Happy Tuesday! I hope the weather is sunny wherever you are. In Iowa, we have had a few severe storms lately that fizzled away to bring more sunshine!
I had a great workout yesterday and hope to do the same this afternoon. In light of all the talk surrounding exercise, I wanted to provide my blog followers a chance to hear more about the nutrition component behind healthy living.
When I began training for my first half marathon in 2009, I was surprised at the lack of change in my body composition. I figured that running 10+ miles every week would result in some sort of noticeable difference. Below is a picture of me finishing my first half marathon.
What I didn’t realize was that what you eat has much more of an influence on your weight than exercise alone. Therefore, proper nutrition paired with a exercise routine is the key for success…
I know that eating healthy can be both simple and complicated. Many people seem to fall into the trap of “eating healthy” by consuming primarily fruits and vegetables. Without much thought, this diet can quickly become monotonous. Other people can become obsessive and count their calories, which can lead to individuals feeling deprived.
So what are we supposed to do? I have found through studying nutrition as part of my undergraduate degree that focusing on a balance of macronutrients is the key ingredient to happy heart and body. What does the term “macronutrients” mean? It’s much more simple than it sounds. Macronutrients can be broken into three main categories of: carbs, fats, and proteins. All three are equally as important to fuel your body and provide energy for your day.
Carbohydrates (Carbs): Made up of various sugar structures, which turn into glucose. Glucose is a sugar that your brain and muscles use as fuel. Have you noticed that you find it hard to concentrate or feel light-headed when you haven’t eaten? That’s your body’s way of saying that it’s missing sugar. To think that carbs feed our brain makes the bad rap they have diminish in my mind. It’s true that we need a particular amount of carbs and that excess can be converted into fat. However, the same rule applies with protein and fats. Society just blames carbs because of the abundance of food products they are found in. (ex: Snack items, breads, cereals).
Fats: Comprised of three different structures and can be broken into lay terms such as “good” and “bad” fats. “Good” fats are mono/polysaturated and unsaturated. Examples of good sources are: olive oil, avocados, and nuts. “Bad” fats are saturated and trans. Sources of these come from animal products (ie: whole milk) and vegetable fats (ie: packaged snack foods). Everyone needs fat to survive. Not only does it provide insulation for our organs, it also helps chemical reactions in our body to speed up and ultimately run more efficiently. A common myth is that consuming fats makes you fat. The same principle above applies to fats. When you consume too much fat, it can be converted into literal body fat. However, by not consuming fat, your body will actually do the reverse and begin storing any fat eaten. The reason being that you put your body goes into survival mode and assumes you are starving. (The old caveman situation).
Protein: Helps keep us full and rebuild our muscles after exercise. Proteins are made up of amino acids. In order for your body to absorb the protein efficiently, you must ensure you are consuming a complete protein. Sources of complete proteins can be found in low-fat animal products, soy, and certain grains such as quinoa. If you are vegan or do not like animal products, you can learn about protein pairing here.
Many people argue on the proper ratio of these three macronutrients. I have found a plate through www.choosemyplate.gov/ that details a suggested balance.
I hope this helps you understand the basics of nutrition. I am by no means an expert, nor did I go into much detail.
Ultimately, I have learned that moderation is the best thing you can practice in your health. I try to eat healthy 85% of the time. But occasionally, I will not turn down a cupcake (like I was given today at lunch!)
Have a great day 🙂