22 Apr Nutrition basics
Sebastien, the team’s sports coach, was inspired by Bluetens brand’s slogan – “Get Better” – to offer you some tips and guidelines for improving your health practices as well as your physical conditions. In his first post, he suggests you to start with the basics: nutrition. The way you eat affects your health, and nutritional deficiencies may be responsible for serious diseases. Understanding the following will also help you to manage your weight, whether you want to lose it or gain it. A good understanding of how your body works is useful to suit its needs and to achieve long lasting results.
Every day, your body is using energy to work. Energy is essential for our vital organs to function properly or for our muscles to perform. This energy is known as calorie (kcal).
Each person’ s daily energy expenditure depends on various factors: age, height, weight, sex, physical activity, and even intellectual activity (a stressed person will burn more calories at rest). Food allows you to provide your body with the necessary calories for its maintenance needs. This energetic expenditure will mainly depend on your basal metabolism. Basal metabolism corresponds to our body’s daily energy requirements at rest. That is to say the minimum energy expenditure necessary for the cells’ proper functioning, for breathing motions, for our heart beat and for vital organs’ maintenance. In order to lose weight faster, it is wise to increase our basal metabolism. We will see how to increase it in an upcoming post.
Energy is divided according to nutrients:
1g of proteins = 4kcal
1g of carbohydrate = 4kcal
1g of lipid = 9kcal
1g of alcohol = 7kcal
On average, daily energy expenditure is at:
2500 calories (kcal) for an adult male.
2000 calories (kcal) for an adult female.
Those figures are averages for a medium build person who doesn’t practice physical activities.
There is only one-way to find out the calorie count you burn every day: eat exactly the same meal (if possible at similar times) during several days, at a given caloric amount, and see if your weight increases or decreases.
If your weight increases that means that you are eating more calories than your body is burning (calorie surplus), if it decreases that means that you are eating less calories than your body is burning (calorie deficient) and if it becomes steady… Bingo! You know exactly how much calories you burn every day.
Your weight fluctuations will therefore depend on the calories you ingest. The more you eat the more you put on weight and the less you eat the more you lose weight. However we must say that the weight loss or gain of weight indicated on your scale does not only concern fat. You can also gain or lose muscle.
Let’s use the example of a person who is losing 5 kg in 2 weeks by following a strict diet. Given the speed of this loss of weight, the 5 kg will correspond to maximum 2 or 3 kg of fat. The rest will correspond to a loss of dry weight (of muscle). You will therefore lose your curve, harmonious shapes and tonicity… It’s a pity… in such a short time; just target fat is impossible unless resorting to plastic surgery!
Food can have a vegetable or animal origin. They contain energy and nutrients, which foster the body’s growth, its care and proper functioning. Those nutrients are composed of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients incorporate proteins, carbohydrates (sugar) and lipids (fat). They are the ones who will provide the body’s need to operate.
Micronutrients incorporate vitamin (A,B,C…), minerals (calcium, magnesium…) and trace element (fluorine, zinc…). Those ones won’t acquire energy but are essential to proper metabolic functioning.
The needs in nutrients will depend on the activity of each individual. For example, sport will force you to fill some deficiencies (such as zinc) or to eat more proteins in order not to lose muscles. Therefore, in order to ensure that our body won’t miss anything, we need to find the right balance between macros and micros nutrients. Nowadays, micronutrients are unfortunately too low in our nutrition.
These are amino acids. They are the very basis of our body: they compose your muscles, hormones, enzymes and antibodies. There are 20 amino acids of which 8 are essential, because the body can’t produce them. It is therefore necessary to obtain them from food, they can be from animal origin (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) or from vegetable origin (soya, cereals, legumes etc.…).
Proteins are essential to build muscle, because by definition muscle is composed of proteins (in fact of sarcomere, which is composed of microfilaments and myosin, which are proteins). In such case, it must be pointed out that a protein from animal origin is more efficient to build muscle than a protein from vegetable origin. For an individual who practice bodybuilding, a tasty soybean steak will not be as effective to build muscle as for example a beef steak (even if they contain the same amount of proteins).
So, how can we know what is the right amount of proteins that we must consume everyday?
The average for a sedentary person is between 0,6 and 0,8 g of proteins per kilogram of body weight. Therefore a 75 kg individual should eat about 60 g of proteins per day.
Warning: 100 g of meat does not correspond to 100 g of proteins, but only to approx. 20-25. It is up to you to look the labels in order to see the percentage of food’s protein.
Athletes who would like to gain muscle can eat until 2,2 g of proteins per kilogram of body weight, for 75 kg it would correspond to 160 g of proteins that is 100 g more than a sedentary! During a bodybuilding session, a man will “destroy” muscle, its body will then repair/ rebuild its muscle cells by adding more volume or density thanks to its nutrition and rest.
They are sugars (or carbon hydrates). They are the main source of energy for the body.
When they reach the blood they take the form of glucose and when they reach the muscle and liver they take the form of glycogen (the fuel for muscular contraction). Contrary to what people might think, carbohydrates are the only (macro) nutrients non essential to life; we could survive just by eating proteins and lipids because they both can be transformed into glucose.
Carbohydrates are mainly found in sweet foods, fruits, milk, starches, vegetables, cereals etc.
Excess of carbohydrates is often responsible for weight gain.
Lipids form living beings’ fat. They are composed of the fatty acid chain or of derivatives. There are 3 types of lipids:
-Mono-unsaturated fatty acids
-Poly-unsaturated fatty acids
Saturated fats, consumed in excess, can have many harmful effects on the body like a growth of insulin resistance or a decrease of lipids use like energy substrate. They aren’t essential because the body is able to build them itself from carbohydrates. They exist in butter, animal fats or palm oil. They have a solid shape at room temperature.
Mono-unsaturated fatty acids are beneficial to the health as long as they are consumed in reasonable quantity. They are for example, omega-9, which can be found in olive oil, which has heart benefits and contributes to certain cancers prevention.
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids are the most important lipids to maintain good health; they are related to omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential fatty acids that our body cannot produce. However, it is important to note that, nowadays our omega-3 and omega-6 ratio is completely unbalanced. Indeed, for an amount of consumed omega-3, we ingest 20 times more omega-6, which is harmful to the heath. It is imperative to decrease our contribution in omega-6 and increase our contribution in omega-3. Omega-3 can be found in vegetable fats like rape oil or nut oil, in almond or nut, fatty fish like salmons, sardines, herrings or tuna.
Omega-6 are mainly found in animal fats coming from factory farming animals, red meat, corn, soya, oat or vegetable oil (except olive oil or rape oil).
However, be careful not to consume salmon or tuna too often because, as they are big fish, they are loaded with heavy metals, which may be toxic to the body.
Little fish very rich in omega-3 like anchovies, sardines, herrings or mackerel can be consumed very regularly without risk.
It is not unusual to see people who want to lose weight quickly who eliminate lipids completely from their meals. For example, they would banish all the oils from their nutrition, by thinking that, consuming those oils would make them put on weight.
I repeat it: it is not so much to eat “fat” that will make you put on weight, but rather the excess of carbohydrates and mostly the glycemic index of foods. It should also be underlined that in order to lose weight, it is necessary to bring good lipids in our nutrition.
Why? You should know that there is a hormone, which have the opposite role of the insulin: it’s the glucagon.
The glucagon will draw in fat reserve in order to provide energy, it is what drain your body fat. In order to make this hormone hide, you need a good type of lipids such as olive oil or almond’s lipids. As a result, when you eat 2 clementines as your snack, you will know that by adding some almonds (6 large almonds) you will lose your fat faster.
Dietary fibers cannot be digested or absorbed by our digestive system. There are soluble fibers and insoluble fibers. Each of those two types of fibers act in different ways in our body, and therefore generates different benefits.
Soluble fibers, which will dissolve in water. They can be found in vegetables’ internal structures. They prevent constipation by forming a kind of gel during the digestion; by slowing transit they break the rise of blood glucose, prevent type 2 diabetes and reduce fat absorption. They are therefore important in the mechanism to lose weight.
Insoluble fibers, which are unable to dissolve in water.
Their role is mostly mechanical: they browse the digestive tract without get any modification and then are going to manage the food into stomach and bowel.
They include for example, vegetable outer shells like apple skin, legumes, wholegrain-cereal and oleaginous (the almond or nut skin for example).
The aim must be to reduce the contribution in insoluble fibers, because they can lead to detrimental effects to the body by reducing the absorption of certain food thus altering the metabolism. For example, the cereal or legume shells can link to minerals, like iron or calcium, by forming insoluble masses, which won’t be absorbed by the body anymore. It is therefore wise to foster semi complete foods rather than complete, which still contain fibers but less anti nutritional’s factors.
Changing dietary habits does not happened overnight but don’t worry, one unbalanced lunch from time to time (1 or 2 gaps allowed per week) won’t destroy all your daily efforts and their benefits.
A healthy diet means adopting a healthy lifetime. Choices, decisions, how to plan your meals and the choice of practicing a regular physical activity is entirely up to you.
The more you know about what you eat, the easier it will be to establish healthy eating habits that will help you for the rest of your life. Your grandchildren will thank you.
Cook by yourself when you can and become responsible for the food you choose to eat, which is a part of the challenge awaiting you!