Diet vs Activity
Daily physical activity is vital in following a healthy lifestyle. However, a high nutrient diet plan can help you transform your body. The combination of diet and exercise delivers the best possible results to your well-being and your waistline.
In most cases following recommended guidelines is the most effective way to optimize your health overall.
Think your body as the engine or the motor and the food as the fuel. Your aim is to try fuel your engine with the best quality of fuel (100 octanes). This means that you have to feed your body with the best food quality.
However, if the motor is damaged, it does not make a difference what kind of fuel you add to the engine. If the fuel is of bad quality, the human body won’t operate to its potentials.
Concerns of high protein, high fat or any carbohydrate diet eating are becoming an over-complicated process creating more stress than needed.
By simply changing your mindset you can change the way your body looks.
This guide aims to help you understand that high nutrient diet plan will help you boost your health. What your body needs and what foods to avoid or not in order to attain a healthier life plan.
Carbohydrates: What are they and why they matter?
Scientifically speaking, a carbohydrate is a molecule consisting of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) atoms.
However, in the nutrition world, carbohydrates are one of the most misunderstood and controversial topics. Diets like Atkins, Dukan and Keto have put carbohydrates on the hot seat. Let me explain.
First of all, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients of our food. That means, nutrients that we consume in relative large amounts and give us energy. The others are proteins and fat. All types of food contain these three elements. Of course, depending on the food, the percentage of each element varies.
There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex.
Carbohydrates appear in simple forms such as sugars and in complex forms such as starches and fiber.
Simple carbohydrates, in the most basic form, refer to sugars with a simple molecular construction of one or two parts.
These are the sugars added to food or drinks. Sugar in biscuits, cake, cereals, chocolate, candy bars, flavoured yogurts, and all kinds of soft drinks.
This kind of sugar is regarded as artificial because it is manually added by food producers, at home, or even by a chef.
Other types of sugar that occurs naturally still count as free sugars. These are usually in honey, maple syrup, nectars, fruit juices, vegetable juices or smoothies.
Useful or not?
Simple carbohydrates have the advantage that the body can process them quickly because of their simple molecular structure.
These kinds of sugars are directly converted to glucose offering a quick rush of energy, followed by a low, once the process is complete.
Simple carbs, affecting blood sugar levels quickly, they tend to have a high Glycaemic Index (GI). They are regarded as bad carbs and should be avoided, most of the time.
Complex carbohydrates refer to sugars with a complex molecular structure of three or more parts.
Foods rich in complex carbohydrates are derived from plants and include whole grains, wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, oats, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, apples, etc.
These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre which are vital to overall health and wellbeing.
Good or Bad?
The body takes longer to break down complex carbs in order to produce the glucose it needs for energy, due to their complex structure.
Food containing complex carbs is processed more slowly by the body. This allows the body to provide sustained energy levels over longer periods of time than simple carbs.
These naturally occurring complex carbohydrates which tend to have a lower Glycaemic Index (GI).
Complex carbohydrates can lower blood cholesterol when they are substituted for saturated fat.
The reality is that carbs come in a variety of forms. Some are healthy for you, and some unhealthy. The highly processed ones are usually delicious but bad for your body and should be avoided. Eating processed foods loaded with sugars is usually very tasteful but great at making people fat.
The reason is that we usually end up eating far too much of it. If you are disciplined enough, then your diet can include some processed carbs too, as long as it’s a minimal amount.
You have to understand that low-carb diets are not the magic pill for fat loss. The solution is to eat the right amount of healthy foods that fuel metabolism, which in turn will help you burn fat.
Whatever diet you follow, you have to remember that your body needs carbs, even if they tell you otherwise. This is vital in case of performing any kind of intense exercise. If you strictly avoid carbs, your body will begin to break down your muscle tissue to fuel your body.
A low carb diet can be beneficial for your health or weight loss. However, you should not avoid carbs. A research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is no significant difference in fat loss and muscle retention by following a lower carb compared to a higher carb diet.
Fats: Healthy or not? Blame it on Fats
Fat, similarly to carbs, is one of the three macronutrients, along with carbs and proteins. The fat molecules consist of primarily carbon and hydrogen atoms.
Fat is probably the most criticized and demonized food element of all. No wonder why for several years low-fat diets have been recommended for health and to help people lose weight. However, as nutrition experts are indicating, fats are more complicated. Cutting back on fats might lead to eating a lot more carbs and sugar, that is bad for your health.
No matter what, fat is a nutrient, essential part of our diet and crucial for normal body function. Apart from energy supply, fat is also critical coating for nerves. It helps speed up every neurochemical signal that is sent through your body. Even helps blood pressure, inflammation, and blood clotting.
It’s good for testosterone and muscle retention. In addition, fat in food helps you feel full, so you don’t eat too much. Fat is a necessary component of your daily diet plan and probably something you’re not consuming enough of.
Why Do We Need Fat?
Fats fuel the body and help absorb vitamins essential for the body. They are the building blocks of hormones and help to shield the body.
Consuming the right amount of fat from lean meats, fish, and heart-healthy oils, is important.
What Are the Types of Fat?
There are different types of fats. Some fats are healthier than others. In order to stay healthy, it is important to eat specific fats in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.
However, when eating fat in large amounts, including healthy fats, can contribute to weight gain. But what are the different types of fat?
This kind of fats are found in plant foods and fish. They are further broken down into Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fat.
Monounsaturated fats are healthy fatty acids that are liquid at room temperature, but become solid when chilled. They found mostly in plant foods such as avocados, nuts like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and cashews. They can also be found in olive oil.
Eating reasonable amounts of monounsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans fats can improve your health in a variety of ways:
- They can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) level while raise good cholesterol.
- Keeping your bad cholesterol level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- They can help develop and maintain your cells.
- Help prevent weight gain and may even help reduce body fat levels.
- May help reduce cancer risk.
- Help Improve Insulin Sensitivity.
- Reduce Inflammation.
Polyunsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and stay liquid at cold. Their melting point is lower than that of monounsaturated fats.
They are usually oils. You can find them mostly in fatty fish like salmon, plant-based oils like sunflower oil and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are referred to as essential fatty acids. These fats cannot be produced by our bodies, and so it is essential to include them into our daily diet to avoid any problems or eventually a breakdown.
Polyunsaturated fats can improve your health in many ways:
- Helps improve brain function.
- May reduce age-related mental decline.
- Improves infant development
- Helps promote heart health.
Saturated fats are probably the most misunderstood and most harmful substance you can eat. They can be found naturally in many foods.
It is bad – unhealthy fat found in relatively high amounts from animal sources like meat and dairy products, including full fat milk, cheese, butter, and cream. Can be also found in a lot of prepared foods like cakes and biscuits, to pizzas and pork pies.
A lot of studies indicate that high intake of saturated fats, raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease. However, recent studies suggest that the truth is more complicated than that.
Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Thanks to their solid texture, saturated fats are great for cooking, especially at high temperatures.
Saturated fats coming from animals or tropical plants that are minimally processed, are good fats. Fats like coconut oil, butter, tallow and palm oil are excellent sources of good, saturated fat.
The benefits of saturated fats are:
- Help enhance our immune system
- Excellent for cooking.
- Foods high in saturated fats tend to be healthy and nutritious.
- Help raise good cholesterol.
However, over consumption of saturated fats can have harmful effects, such as:
- Help raise bad cholesterol.
- Can cause heart rate disease.
Our body naturally stores carbohydrates as saturated fat. That is the reason why saturated fat is probably the best source of energy for your body. On top of that saturated fats are some of the most fulfilling foods. This means that they keep you fuller longer.
Several researches show that diets high in saturated fats are usually lower in total calories consumed. This means that you should be not avoiding eating saturated fats. On the contrary, you should eat your fair share of red meat, dairy, and eggs. But don’t overdo it.
Trans Fat – The devil inside
The worst type of food that someone can consume are trans fats. Trans fats can be found in margarine stick and fried foods, such as French fries and potato chips.
There are two types of trans fats found in foods: Natural and Artificial. Natural trans fats are created in the gut of some animals and foods produced from these animals like milk or meat may contain minor quantities of trans fats. Artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process combining hydrogen with liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. This chemical process is called partial hydrogenation. It is ideal fat for the food industry because it can be reused in deep-fat frying and it has a high melting point along with a smooth texture.
On top of that, it increases the shelf life and enhances the flavor of oils and foods that contain them. Simplifying it, trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. In case of pre-packaged food, it’s most likely to contain trans fats.
If you take healthy eating seriously, you should avoid eating trans fats because there produce a wide range of harmful effects:
- Increase bad cholesterol (LDL) in the bloodstream.
- Reduces good cholesterol (HDL) cholesterol.
- Increase inflammation.
- Endorse heart disease and stroke probability.
- Promote diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
- Contribute to insulin resistance.
- increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you’re taking small dosage of junk food, exercise regularly and following a healthy nutrition otherwise, trans fats in-take now and then can be survived. However, you must consider that for every 2% of calories from trans-fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%.
Protein: The White Shining Armor
While most of the athletes or fitness fans usually avoid fats or carbs in some short, they all embrace proteins. Protein is regarded as the building block of life and is found in every cell of the body.
Protein is made up of smaller molecules called amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids that are attached to one another in long chains. It is used by your body to repair damaged muscle, bone, skin, teeth, and hair, among other things. You can refer to it as the connecting material that binds the bricks of a construction. Where the construction is your body. Without it, the entire structure of your body begins to break down.
Nine out of twenty-two amino acids can only be obtained through food. Your body can produce the remaining amino acids.
The amino acids obtained from food are called essential amino acids. These are:
There are three types of protein foods:
- Complete proteins: These are usually in animal foods and they contain all the essential amino acids. Most common are meat, dairy, and eggs.
- Incomplete proteins: This type of food demonstrates the lack of balance in the proteins. This means that the food contains at least one essential amino acid but missing the others. Such foods are usually plants, like peas, beans, and grains.
- Complementary proteins: These refer to two or more foods containing incomplete proteins. Combining them together we get complete protein. For example the combination of bread with peanut butter or rice and beans produce complete proteins.
Proteins play a significant role, because they:
- Help your body create hormones
- Regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Control the metabolic rate and muscular growth
- Transport molecules throughout the body
- Help repair cells and make new ones
- Protect the body from viruses and bacteria.
Protein deficiency from low protein intake can lead to:
- Weak muscle
- Swelling due to fluid retention
- Thin and weak hair
- Skin lesions
- Loss of muscle mass.
How Much Protein Do We Need?
The daily protein amount your body needs depends in your age, weight and daily activity level. Children who are still in the growing process usually need more protein in their diets than adults. Highly active people may need more protein than less active ones.
There is a general rule of thumb to calculate how much protein you need to consume daily: multiply your weight measured in kilograms by 0.8. The result is the number of grams of protein for daily consumption.
For example, an 80kg adult should consume approximately 64grams of protein a day.
Protein rich foods are: Whole eggs (among the healthiest and most nutritious foods), high protein nuts like almonds, chicken breast, oats, cottage cheese, tuna, Greek yogurt, etc.
Summing up, we observe that each macronutrient (carbs, fats, proteins) plays a significant role in keeping your body running optimally. This means that you need all of them in reasonable amounts in your daily diet.
You have to pay attention to the nutritional analysis of the foods you’re eating. In case you cutback in one nutrient, note what you’re replacing those missing calories with. It could make all the difference in your diet.
Try to customize your daily diet based on your own particularities and needs. Create your own personalized workouts and meal plans.
Apply this knowledge into action and make it happen!