Making Nutrition Simple
Diets are big business and there always seems to be the next ‘new diet’ or the next ‘best diet’. These are usually based on fads and popular trends without too much consideration of scientific research or approaches that are sustainable. It is important to investigate who is ‘selling’ the diet, what their agenda is and what are their motivations. Better still is to avoid any ‘diets’ as such and instead focus on trying to get a range of colourful and wholesome unprocessed foods into your day to match your energy needs.
Everyone’s food requirements are different depending on a range of factors. The relationship between the energy we take in (in the form of food) and the energy we put out (in the form of activity and basic metabolic functions) is an important one to consider if we hope to get the energy balance right. Maintaining this balance helps us to maintain our body weight and feel good. When the energy input exceeds the energy output we tend to put on weight, and when the energy input is lower than the energy requirement we lose weight and feel tired and lethargic.
Sounds simple right? Well, there are a number of other factors that can influence this. Along with weight gain and loss, energy balance affects other processes in our bodies, such as reproduction, cognitive functions, metabolic functions, repair and regeneration. It is not just the food that we take in but more specifically, what we absorb and actually use from that food. So, how well our body is functioning and the influence of hormones plays a big role in this.
It is also important to know that different types of foods have different energy levels and different body parts have different energy requirements. For example fat contains more calories per gram (approx.. 9kcal per gram) than protein (approx.. 5kcal/g) or carbohydrates (approx..4kcal/g) and brain tissue needs a lot of energy (around 300kcal/kg/day) compared to skeletal muscle (only about 17kcal/kg/day).
Without making this a complicated topic on energy processes in the body, just know that whole, less processed foods (along with getting regular movement and living a healthy lifestyle) works best with our physiology. Our body recognises these types of food and knows what to do with them by regulating our energy intake and making us feel good.
Have a look at the types and amounts of food that you are eating daily and see where most of the energy is coming from. Is your nutrition, or diet, carbohydrate, fat or protein heavy, or is it relatively balanced? Have a look at where your energy use is coming from. Is it mostly everyday living, metabolic functions, or does it also involve more active energy use through movement and exercise?