A Beginners Guide to Nutrition
Healthy eating is simple, and companies promote fad diets have confused matters by over compilating it to make money. If you live by the basic knowledge provided in this article you shouldn’t go far wrong.
You diet should consist of natural foods from good sources such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and dairy. If you are on a plant-based diet this should extend to include good sources of protein. You don’t see cans of Pepsi growing on trees or chocolate bars in fields so these are not great sources of food.
Being healthy had so many benefits, the most important of which are:
- You are less likely to become ill
- It allows you to live for longer
- You are more likely to be healthy
There are 3 macronutrients that you need in your diet. These are listed below with examples of what their role is in your body.
Protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of all cells. Your body uses protein to repair tissue and build muscle mass. Protein is important for your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein is commonly found in animal products, although is also present in other sources, such as nuts ad legumes.
Protein is made up of amino acids. Some amino acids can be made in your body and some are classed as ‘essential’ because the human body can’t make them.
For a protein to be classed as a ‘complete’ protein it must contain ALL the amino acids. The protein in all Ultra Nutrition products is ‘complete’ and contains an optimal amino acid profile.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
Carbohydrates are important for a healthy diet, these are the sugars, starches and fibre found in fruits, grains, vegetables and dairy products.
Dietary carbohydrates can be split into three main categories:
- Sugars: Sweet, short-chain carbohydrates found in foods. Examples are glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.
- Starches: Long chains of glucose molecules, which eventually get broken down into glucose in the digestive system.
- Fibre: Humans cannot digest fibre, although the bacteria in the digestive system can make use of some of them.
Most carbs get broken down or transformed into glucose, which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat if you consume too many.
Fibre is an exception. It does not provide energy directly, but it does feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. These bacteria can use the fibre to produce fatty acids that some of our cells can use as energy. It is important to ensure you have plenty of fibre every day as it helps with many of the bodies processes.
The sugar in alcohol is also classed as a carbohydrate. Alcohol is full of empty calories, this means the calories will count towards your daily macros but provide no goodness. In fact, consuming alcohol has many negative effects on your bodies ability to work well.
If you are aiming to lose weight or struggle with binge eating you should avoid sugary carbohydrates and ensure you combine carbohydrates with proteins and fats at meal time to slow down their absorption, this in turn will slow down insulin release which will help you to maintain a feeling of fullness throughout the day.
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
Fat is not the enemy although, some fat is good, some fat is bad. Having excess body fat is bad and this comes from eating too many calories and is not necessarily from too much fat.
All fats are created equal. Some fats are better for you than others and will promote good health. Knowing the difference can help you determine which fats to eat, to avoid and to eat in moderation.
Fat is as essential to your diet. Certain bodily functions also rely on the presence of fat. Some vitamins require fat in order to dissolve into your bloodstream and provide nutrients.
These fatty acids are important and have many powerful health benefits for your body and brain.
Here are some benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids:
Improve eye health.
- Fight inflammation.
- Improve risk factors for heart disease.
- Reduce symptoms of metabolic disorder.
- Improve skin.
- Fight autoimmune disease.
- Improve mental disorders.
- Fight age related mental decline.
- Improve sleep.
- Reduce fat in your liver.
- Improve bones and joints.
Trans-fats appear in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst fats for you and should be avoided. You might find trans-fat in:
- Fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)
- Vegetable shortening
- Baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)
- Processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn)
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
For most of your meals you should combine Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats to make a balanced meal. This will help to ensure that meals are absorbed slowly which will help you feel fuller for longer and help you feel better both mentally and physically.
You should aim to have roughly 33% of calories from each macronutrient but remember this is a rough guide. We believe the best approach is to ensure you hit your protein target every day and then make up the rest of your calories in fats and carbohydrates in the way that you find suits you the best – we are all different and one approach does not fit everyone.
The only time you should not have fat in a meal is if it a meal immediately following a training session, this would be classed as a ‘post workout’ meal and needs to be rapidly absorbed.
The easiest way to check your recommended calorie intake is by using the Ultra Nutrition Macro Calculator. This will help you to work out how many calories you need each day based on your age, weight, exercise and your goal. This will help you to get the correct nutrient intake making sure you have a healthy and balanced diet full of wholesome and nutritious foods.
If you are trying to lose weight and you are losing it too fast, eat a little more or if you are trying to gain weight and gaining too fast, eat a little less. Its important to remember this is a guide and you will naturally need to adjust your calorie intake to suit you perfectly.
If you are new to counting calories it will seem like a lot to take in, you will quickly learn what calories and macronutrients are in various foods and with time you wont need to measure them, this will come with experience.
You don’t get to be an expert without first being a beginner.
Foods to Eat
Try to base your diet around these healthy food groups:
- Vegetables: Packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, you should make sure you eat plenty of vegetables.
- Fruits: Full of nutrients and rich in antioxidants as well as a fantastic source of fibre.
- Meat and fish: Great sources of protein, if you are vegan or vegetarian there are lots of suitable alternatives.
- Nuts and seeds: Full of healthy fats and a great source of fibre.
- Eggs: Another great source of protein, fat and many micronutrients.
- Healthy starches: Whole food starchy foods like potatoes, quinoa and rice are healthy and nutritious.
- Beans and legumes: Great sources of fibre, protein and micronutrients.
- Water: Essential for life and required for your body to work on every level.
- Herbs and spices: Great to add flavour and taste to food and a brilliant source of micronutrients.
Foods to Avoid
The below foods should be avoided as much as possible. This isn’t to say you can never consume them, but avoiding them will help you to be healthier, fitter and in better shape.
- Sugar-based products: Foods high in sugar, especially sugary drinks, sweets and chocolate bars.
- Trans fats: or hydrogenated fats. Once a fat has been boiled a few times as it is in deep fat fryers it becomes a trans-fat, therefore avoid deep fried convenience foods.
- Refined carbohydrate: foods like white bread have minimal micronutrients and should be avoided and swapped for wholegrain products.
- Vegetable oils: Many vegetable oils are low quality and should be avoided.
- Processed low-fat products: These are regularly marketed as a healthier option but, many have added sugar to improve the taste.
These are vitamins and minerals and are essential for your body to function properly. If you want to lose, gain weight or perform effectively you must first be healthy.
If you consume a wide variety of vegetables and fruits and vary your food intake you should get your micronutrients in every day. Remember that processed food is generally lower in micronutrient that more natural foods so always aim to have the most natural foods possible.
Check how many calories and how much protein you should consume on the Ultra Nutrition Macro Calculator.
- Look to your calorie intake over a week, rather than day by day. So if your target is 2,000 calories a day that’s 14,000 calories per week. Some days you may go over your daily target and some days you may be under, as long as this balances out across the week you can stick to this goal.
- Consume lots of vegetables.
- Avoid refined, processed foods.
- Supplements are to supplement a good diet.
- Eating healthy foods will help you live longer and help improve your health.
- Combine protein, fats and carbohydrates in almost all meals.