Nutrition is not only about the food we eat but it's about what our body does with the food we consume. I've been taking a nutrition certification course this summer that has been extremely informative and eye opening. So I thought I would write to you about some of the things that have been ah-hah moments for me. I've been personal training for a number of years now. I have studied about the basics of nutrition. I knew about enough to be able to give some advice but was by no means an expert. When it comes to nutrition and knowing what are healthy choices and what are not, I think many of us know what we should be eating however we continue following our same patterns. We then complain about our lack of energy and/ or our forever growing bulge around the middle section. Sometimes hearing something from another angle can make a big impact on our actions. Often when we know the why, what we learn makes sense, it becomes easier to apply. Studying for my precision nutrition certification has done that for me. To know the why behind what the experts tell us has made so much sense. I will share with you some of the things I've learned that have changed the choices I've made.
First of all, what we eat is not merely food. It's fuel! Food has energy and the energy in the food is broken down (this is an understatement since many chemical reactions take place to break down our food) and used for energy in our body. There is no energy that is lost or gained its just in a sense converted into a usable form. If the energy that comes in (you eat) equals the energy you expend (you use) you will maintain your weight and hopefully a healthy energetic body. However, if you eat more then you expend or expend more then you eat health issues, lack of energy and a host of other things can affect your energy levels. Thinking of food as our fuel source and not just eating what taste good (although this is great too) has new meaning.
The choices of what we eat is important. For instance, our muscle cells, our liver cells, all of the cells in our body (in a simplified version) have a membrane around them and have what we will call channels that run through them. Once food is broken down (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) these nutrients in their smallest form need to be transported through these channels to get inside our cells to be converted to energy. If we eat too much saturated fat, we can clog these pathways. If we eat more fats that are not so firm, we will have a much more pliable channel to get through.
Another example of how food choices are important is this. Carbohydrates are sugars. An example of a simple carbohydrates is table sugar. A complex carbohydrate is maybe an apple or a vegetable. Our body does not know a donut from an apple. It just knows that it has to break down the sugar into its smallest form of glucose. However, the donut does not have the nutrients our body needs to effectively transport the sugar into the cells. We use the vitamins from the apple to help hormones transport things through the cells. Plus, the apple has other qualities that help our bodies function optimally. A donut does not offer much in the way of nutrition. Just extra calories.
The choices in foods we eat does make a difference. We want to choose foods with the most nutrient dense qualities. Choices that offer the most nutrients with the least number of calories are ideal. Most of these would be whole foods with the least number of ingredients that you recognize. Fresh fruits and veggies are nutrient dense foods. Nuts and seeds, whole grain foods and beans are great nutrient dense foods. Donuts, candy, soda pop offer you calories without any nutritional value. Ideally we want to give ourselves fuel that promotes peak performance, gives us energy and keeps us healthy. What do you want? What will you choose? You have control over your choices.