Nutrition made simple

Whether you are at your ideal weight or striving to reach your weight goal is it simply a matter of burning more calories than you take in? It's a little more involved than that. What those calories are made of, matters.

Overall body health improvement, as well as weight gain or loss, must be factored into the equation or you could be heading for problems. Correct nutrition can help to reduce the risk of a myriad of health-related problems, the most frightening of which are surely heart disease and cancer. Proper nutrition, however, entails eating a variety of whole foods while limiting your intake of processed foods, trans fats, and refined sugar. A proper diet should offer balanced nutrition that reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, and helps with weight control.

Let's learn some of the basics about nutrients:

Carbohydrates - They are the primary source of ammunition in your diet. The body uses carbohydrates to build glucose which can be used immediately or stored in your body for later. Too much glucose, however, is stored as fat. There are two types of carbohydrates - simple and complex. Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Starches and fibers are complex carbohydrates.

Proteins - Proteins help your body build and maintain muscles and other tissues. They also function in the creation of hormones. Like carbohydrates, excess protein is stored as fat.

Animal and vegetable are the two major types of proteins. Too much animal protein can cause high cholesterol, as it is high in saturated fat.

Fats - Strange as it may seem; fat is another nutrient your body requires. It comes in both saturated and unsaturated forms. Saturated fat puts you at risk of health problems. Unsaturated fat is healthy, but if it goes through any type of refinement process, it can become saturated fat.

Vitamins - These are also required nutrients. Different vitamins perform different tasks within the body. They can work with the metabolism to help with energy levels for any task you can think of that you need your body to perform. It has also been noted that certain vitamins can prevent disease.

For example, vitamins A, C, and E, also called antioxidants, can assist with the prevention of coronary artery disease by keeping build up from occurring on artery walls. Vitamin B-1 is needed for digestion and proper nervous system function. Vitamin B-2 is needed for normal cell growth. Vitamin B-3 helps to detoxify your body. Folic acid assists with the production of red blood cells. Vitamin D assists with the absorption of calcium. Vitamin K helps your blood clot.

Minerals and trace elements - These are another nutrient your body requires. Both are used in many different body processes. Minerals like chlorine help make your digestive juices. Phosphorus helps build strong bones. Both can be found in the foods we consume, but with a trace element, your body just needs a tiny amount. Salt is one final nutrient your body requires. You should not consume more than 2400 milligrams per day, though, as it might raise your blood pressure.

Now that we know what to eat, how much should we be eating?

Let’s keep it simple to start.

At each meal have 1-2 servings of lean protein, 1-2 servings of healthy fats, 1 serving of fruit, starchy veggies, or grains, and as many veggies as you want (at least 2 servings).

For snacks, try healthy options that combine fats, proteins, and carbs. Half an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter will provide energy for your day and fill you up.

Be aware of your portion size for meals and snacks. Using the hand method can help you figure out how much a serving size is for you.

Protein is the size and thickness of your palm

Fat, the size of your thumb

Starchy veggies, grains, and fruit are a cupped palm

Veggies, use your fist

I hope this information was helpful. If you’d like to see more nutrition and exercise content for beginners, join my closed Facebook group. It’s a supportive community of people who are working to better their health.

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