As a fitness professional, I tend to get caught up in my own world and with working with my clients. They already know what I have taught them, but I forget about the general population, who may have only had some basic nutrition in high school health. With so much controversy with fast food, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, etc., it can be rather confusing when trying to shop and eat healthy. I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately about balance, portion sizes, and recommended daily amounts(RDA). I’m gonna try and touch on each of these, hopefully with out rambling too much, and can keep it simple
Let’s start with RDA’s
Here is a link from the Mayo Clinic that has the FDA’s RDA based on a 2000 calorie diet.
CARBOHYDRATES – Carbs are our bodies #1 fuel source! Your brain alone needs 100g of carbs to function. That’s why people doing low carb diets, atkins, or HCG may not feel great initially – their brains are starving for carbs, but then your body kicks into ketosis, and starts burning fat. A carbohydrate would be anything such as grains, breads, rice, potatoes, fruits, sugar, ect. Most foods have carbohydrates in them, except for most animal products. Carbs are broken down and stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When you engage in physical activity, this is your primary fuel source. 1g of carb has 4 calories in it. You want to look for complex/whole carbs. The more natural for it is in, the better. EX: Apple juice – good, applesauce – better, a whole apple – BEST! The fiber content is very important when looking at labels. A lot of processed/white foods have low fiber content. Whole/complete carbs will have a higher fiber content. Brown rice vs. white rice, whole wheat bread vs. white bread, whole grain pasta, vs. white pasta. I like to say, “if it’s white, it ain’t right”
FAT – Fat is your bodies second fuel source. That is why we have a “fat burn” zone when exercising. When you are aerobic, you are getting enough oxygen to burn fat. You are still burning carbs (that’s why it is important to eat carbs to fuel your workouts), but you are burning more fat then you would if you were anaerobic or resting. Once you go anaerobic, you are burning predominately carbs/glycogen. When looking at fats, you want to do everything you can to avoid trans or saturated fats. RDA is no more than 20g a day – at most! Think of it this way – if it is solid at room temperature, it will be “solid” in your arteries. A lot of fast foods are high fat and cooked in trans/saturated fast. Although, they are getting better. You want to look for liquid fats and anything that says monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. These are olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil. You can also find high good fat foods such as nuts, avocados, seeds, fish. Eating foods high in good fats can actually lower bad cholesterol. Keep in mind 1g fat has 9 calories in it! That’s why we want to limit ourselves to about 50-75g a day. Here’s another article from the Mayo clinic on Fats:
PROTEIN: Protein/amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies. 1g of protein also has 4 calories, like carbs. Your body can’t really break down more than 30-35g of protein in a meal, that is why it’s better to eat 4-6 small meals a day. When we exercise, especially weight lifting, we create microscopic tears in our muscle tissue. Protein comes in to repair it, and that is how we get stronger. The last thing we want our bodies to use for fuel is protein. That’s why it is important to eat carbs and fat. To calculate your protein needs, divide your body weight by 2.2 to get kilograms. Then times this by 1, and 1.5. That is the range of protein your body needs, especially when working out. The RDA is only BW in Kg x .85 for a sedentary person, but we aren’t sedentary, right??? Try and focus on lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and lean cuts of beef (I recently just bought a 1/4 cow – farm raised, grass fed, extra lean! So excited!)
BALANCE AND PORTION SIZES:
This is where it can get tricky, but I’m going to try and keep it simple. There are many ways to break it up depending on your own body. I personally aim for 50% carb, 30% protein, 20% fat. It can vary day to day, but I know if I eat too many carbs, I start to feel bloated. When doing low carb diets, you may see a 40%c/40%p/20%f. This may work for some people. You just have to find what works for you. That is why I feel it is important to keep a food log. I use http://www.calorieking.com/. There is also http://www.livestrong.com/, http://www.sparkpeople.com/, and many others.
A good way to gage your portion sizes, per meal, is by using your hands. I have adopted this technique from Dr. Shawn Talbot (Killer at Large, Cortisol Diet). Fruits and veggies are pretty much unlimited – just use a little caution with fruits, since they do contain sugars, but try and have at least one fruit or veggie in every meal. For your carb – make a fist. That should be the size of your carb, and make sure that carb has fiber in it. Fiber helps move things along, absorbs sugars and helps keep blood sugars level. Now open your hand. The palm of your hand is your protein. This is a piece of chicken, fish, steak, ect. just make sure it is lean. Now touch your thumb and pointer finger together to make a circle. That is the amount of good fat you should try and have – about 1 TBSP. You want to try and have 1-2 carbs, 1 protein, and 1 fat in every meal/snack. By eating these all in a combination, especially with high fiber, it will help you feel fuller longer, control blood level spikes(which will help reduce cravings), and will help fuel your body.
To figure out your caloric needs, refer back to my previous article about knowing your numbers
http://askcandice.blogspot.com/2011/01/know-your-health-numbers.html There is a RMR calculator on there that is super handy. Remember that 1lb of fat = 3500 calories. To lose 1lb a week, you would need to cut 500 calories a day. You can do this by diet alone, exercise alone, or by both. I prefer both. But also keep in mind, if you are exercising a lot, and are very active through out the day – EAT. You need to fuel your workouts! If you eat too low of calories and are working out, you can do more damage than good. If you want an excel spread sheet that you can print out to just leave on your coutner and keep track of your meals, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If you have any questions, please just comment below, or on my FB page, because others may have the same question.
If you are looking for a great meal replacement – this is what I use once a day
This stuff is awesome! Feel free to contact me if you would like a sample. Also, anyone is welcome to friend me on Facebook under “Candice Ekberg.” My pic is of me in my uniform in front of an ambulance Happy Losing everyone!