Lets discuss some of the basic things that we should know about nutrition that will help us create and maintain a healthy body. First of all we need to understand that our bodies need a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, to perform at our best.
We need protein to build muscle, repair tissue, and it is essential for growth. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and provide the transport of nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout the body. Protein makes all life possible. Eating healthy, lean, portions of protein each day are important if you want to be healthy.
Good sources of animal protein can be found in eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. Fish is another way to find a good source of protein, and usually has less fat in it. Fish also provides you with omega 3 oils that help keep your body running better. Many people choose to get their protein from vegetable sources, as they prefer not to eat animals. This can be done, but if you choose this way of eating you will need to make sure that you are getting your minimum of 50 grams of protein a day to insure good health. It takes a little more know how to find that amount of protein in vegetables, but again it can be done.
Carbohydrates are very important for optimal health. Without them you could not survive and be healthy. Carbohydrates give you energy, it is basically your fuel, as gasoline is to a car. There are two types of carbohydrates, complex carbs, and simple carbs. It is the complex carbs that you want to have the most of. Complex carbohydrates are vegetables and fruits, or what I like to call "Natures" carbs. They are packed full of antioxidants, fiber, water, and many other wonderful things that help our bodies stay healthy.
Simple carbs are found in processed foods like breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, sugar, and chips. Those are the carbs that you should limit if you are interested in being lean and healthy. It is the processed carbs that have less nutrition and are a leading cause of obesity in our country. Eat them occasionally, if at all.
Fats are also essential for optimum health, but it makes a huge difference in the kind of fat you are ingesting. Animal fats are the most harmful of all fats, and that includes butter! It is animal fat that creates cholesterol. Vegetable fats never harden in your arteries. Keeping your animal fat intake low, and your vegetable fat as your main source is a healthier way to eat. Refer to my blog on "The Low Down on Fats" from January 2010 to read more on different types of fat and its function.
There are different opinions on how much of protein, carbs, and fats that we need. I always believe that it is an individual thing to a point, but only to a point. For instance my body works better when I eat animal protein as opposed to being a vegetarian. I have tried many times to be a vegetarian, but I am healthier when I eat animal protein. Some people believe you should have 30% protein, 30% fats, and 40% carbs, in your daily diet. Others believe you should eat less fat and more protein. I believe you need to find what works for you. Personally I work better on more complex carbs, and less fat and protein.
There is a belief that your body type dictates how you should eat. Whether you are predominantly a Mesomorph, Endomorph, or Ectomorph, can determine how much protein, carbs, and fat you should have. It is an interesting science that I think holds a lot of truth to it. There are tests you can take on line to find out what type of body you have. Just put "body types" into a search engine and you can learn what type you are.
After understanding the components of what we should eat, we also need to know the amount of calories that we are taking in. As I have stated many times, it is not just the amount of calories that is important, but the quality of calories that should be looked at. 200 calories of vegetables is a much better choice of calories than 200 calories of cookies. So calories should not just be counted, but chosen for their quality.
Most women should be eating between 1500 and 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight. Men should eat between 2000 and 3000. This will depend on many variables like weight, height, basal metabolism, and amount of muscle you have. Remember that your basal metabolism is what it takes for you to be alive for twenty-four hours without moving. To get a true basal metabolism reading you will have to see a doctor, but the average person who is fit and not overweight usually has a basal of around 1500 calories a day. Our basal metabolism slows as we age, with inactivity, and having a high body fat percentage.
Knowing these basic facts about nutrition will help you to make better choices when it comes to eating healthy. It is always about choices, so choose healthy proteins, healthy carbs, healthy fats, and healthy amounts of calories if you want to feel good, look good, and perform at your best. Knowledge is power, and being healthy is too!