The ABC’s of Nutrition
Carbs, Protein and Fat.. We’ve heard these concepts before but what do they mean? What makes a carbohydrate a carbohydrate, a protein a protein, and a fat a fat? Are all carbohydrates created equal? Are all fats bad for you? How does a vegetarian get their protein without meat?
I am here to tell you, understanding the building blocks of nutrition (carbs, protein and fat) can open the doors of knowledge for you. Its understanding the foundation before you build up that gives you stability and strength in your structure. It’s the simple facts that can help you decide whether to put AVOCADO or BACON on your sandwich.
Tackling all things CARBOHYDRATE related
Your body NEEDS energy for growth, movement, activity, walking your dog… you name it –> the body needs it. This energy comes from the food we choose to eat. long story short, energy is generated from either carbohydrates, fats, or proteins.
The RDA* for carbohydrates is roughly 130 grams/day or about 520 calories
- (*Recommended Dietary Allowance is used by Registered Dietitians for recommending an adequate intake of a specific nutrient to meet essential needs)
Our dietary carbohydrates are composed of either SIMPLE SUGARS, COMPLEX SUGARS or FIBERS
- Simple sugars include breakfast cereals, sweeteners, some fruits/veggies & candy. We want to limit these as much as possible for a healthier chew.
- WHY: Simple sugars are composed of monosaccharides and or disaccharides and the body breaks these down relatively fast leaving our blood sugar levels to quickly rise and us quickly feeling hungry for more. Over time, our body can get used to raised blood sugar and create an insulin resistance in the body.
- Complex sugars include grain/wheat products, beans & legumes, some fruits/ vegetables like potatoes, bananas, squash etc. These are great to add into your daily diet, especially in the morning when your body has lots of time to metabolize and utilize that energy throughout the day.
- WHY: These sugars are composed of polysaccharides and therefore take the body longer to metabolize and break down, all the while releasing energy for the body during a longer amount of time. This helps us to remain feeling full longer and not wanting to go back to the candy counter.
- Fiber can include the skins on fruits & veggies called pectin, beans & legumes, and some grain products. Insoluble fiber has more health benefits than soluble fiber. Easy ideas to incorporate more fiber into your chew include
- More fruits and vegetables (with the skin because this is where the active fiber agent is located)
- Adding flax seeds to oatmeal in the morning
- Snacking on nuts (almonds and walnuts are best because they have the most bang for your buck, AKA the most nutrients for the least amount of fat).
- WHY: Insoluble fibers cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract and therefore are proactive in initiating bowel movements and excretion. High fiber diets are proven to help prevent cardiovascular diseases, cancers (such as colon) and obesity.
As we can see, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Complex sugars are better then simple sugars, and fibers are EVEN BETTER than complex sugars. However, it remains important that we consume carbohydrates in our daily chew because most of the daily energy we expend comes from our carbohydrate intake. Carbs have recently been given the bad chew by the public, thinking all carbs are equally bad. HOWEVER, if we eliminate carbohydrates from our daily chew look at what important foods might be missing.
- Fruits: apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, cherries etc
- Milk: yogurt, milk
- Vegetables: corn, peas, squash, potatoes
- Starches: beans & lentils, bread, cereals, grains, pasta, rice
- The ONLY non-nutritive carbs are for your sweet tooth: brownies, cupcakes, pie, cookies etc
- American Diabetes Association
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Texas A&M University