NUTRITION 101: The Basics
For us at Fortitude Fitness, coaching begins with education. This provides people with the knowledge to become more self-sufficient. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." That is the highest form of coaching. Our nutrition philosophy is extremely open minded to all the different approaches to achieve your goals. Whether we count calories every day, only eat vegetables, or simply make a couple better food choices, there is always room for improvement in what we are putting into our bodies. Nutrition is NOT one size fits all.
The simplest way to define a calorie is to think of it as a unit of energy. Your body needs these "units" of energy every day to operate and do daily tasks. Everyone has a baseline number of calories that their body needs to exist at rest. This is called our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Think of this number as what your body needs just to have basic living functions (breathing, heartbeat, brain function etc.) Additional calories are needed then to perform daily physical activity that comes with your lifestyle. Whether that is a physical job, exercising, or just doing tasks around the house, they all require calories on top of what is needed for your BMR. Calories in versus calories out is still simple math. More calories ingested than you need in any given day will lead to weight gain, and less calories than you need will lead to weight loss. Many of our daily “calories in” are composed of different components that can lead to different health, physique and performance measures. Extreme diets, such as very low caloric intakes for fat loss, are not always necessarily better, and often lead to goal detriments. On very low-calorie diets, our bodies will sometimes stop losing weight as a self-defense mechanism and will hold onto the stored energy in our body. Overall, we are always looking for a SUSTAINABLE nutrition lifestyle.
All external calories we ingest are comprised of the three main macronutrients; protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They all play a key role in how our bodies adapt every day. Different ratios of these nutrients will affect health, performance, and physique measures. The key is finding what works for YOUR goals and nutrition beliefs.
Protein is the building block for almost every essential body part—this includes muscle tissue, organs, and skin just to name a few. During training and exercise, our muscles get broken down and need to repair to grow stronger. Protein is the main dietary source that drives this recovery process. Protein also helps with hunger cravings because it is a macronutrient that requires high calories to be burned to break down and digest it. It is challenging to "pig out" on high protein-based foods like chicken, ground turkey, and lean beefs. We will go over daily requirements when we get into calculations, lifestyle, and goals in a few weeks.
Carbs are bad right? Is that still how this macro nutrient is portrayed? Carbohydrates are one of our body's main sources of energy to complete a given task. Some common forms are starches, fruits, and vegetables. They are stored in our body as glycogen and are needed to perform exercise and even brain function. The problem is, most of western society's diets are composed of TOO many carbs. You need to have adequate levels to match your daily physical activity. This is different for everyone. Just because Suzy down the street only eats a few carbs a day, doesn't mean that it will fit your goals and your lifestyle.
Fat is the final macronutrient that is found in our diets. It gets a bad reputation because it is highly dense in calories (9 cals/gram) as opposed to carbs and protein (4 cals/gram). There are several benefits to eating a healthy balance of fats including improved body composition, hormone balance and reduced inflammation. Some common healthy examples of fats are coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, and flax or chia seeds. They all provide a wide range of fat types that each have their own purpose in our diets.
The intent of this article was to create a general understanding of what we are eating and putting into our bodies. For members at Fortitude Fitness, our next step towards better nutrition is going to be self-awareness. Anyone interested will be educated on how to track your food and learn portion sizes. We will record a food and nutrition log for one week to create a starting point going forward. More details to come soon!!
Director of Training