So Nutrition 101? I thought I’d get my very clever and extremely gorgeous husband to give you the 411 on nutrition because I think the more we know and understand about nutrition and what food does to our body, the better choices we can make. I know so many people who say they eat “really well” all the time and can’t lose weight, feel bloated blah blah blah. Guess what, they generally do NOT eat really well at all when you actually find out what they eat. Hot tip people…. Fat free generally means 100% sugar, you’re better off having the fat. So anyway, my rant is over for now but here’s Trav’s nutrition lesson…..
DISCLAIMER: The information I am about to impart is generalist in nature and not directed at the seasoned athlete (although the basic fundamentals may yield some positive results in performance and body composition). This info’ is directed at those who have little training and nutrition knowledge/experience and want the need to get the fundamentals sorted before tweaking their own nutrition to suit their needs, lifestyle and training/sporting goals. For the athletes, there are specifics that need to be applied based on the energy system requirements of your chosen sports and so it is very individual with many contributing factors influencing what macronutrients you consume, in what combination, timings and quantities…
I will start by outlining the basics and then build on that. I will try to use simple terms and some of this you may already know; however, keep reading as my ‘Golden Rules’ may be of interest to you. Holistically, you should each be eating for ultimate health and nothing else. Weight loss and becoming a picture of ‘twisted steel and sex appeal’ should be seen as an incidental benefit.
Hopefully I can arm you with some great knowledge and prompt you to be more conscientious about your food choices… Follow my wife’s blog and you are half way there! Keep in mind that training is only 25% of the battle, the other 75% is what you stick in your ‘pie hole’…
Basic Macro-Nutrients/Substrates and their connection with one another through Insulin…
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the Pancreas and is responsible for storing everything we consume in it’s respective place (unfortunately, this little hormone loves to take fat to your hips, bum, belly and thighs most of all). Insulin is only present in large quantities when we consume sugar (carbohydrates), yet this is dependant on the type of carbohydrate, it’s glycemic index and load. When carbohydrates (explained later) are consumed and broken down into sugar, Insulin is sent from it’s ‘Taxi Rank’ at the Pancreas, picks up all the Macro’s (Protein, Fat and Sugars), takes Protein to the muscles for repair and growth, takes Fats to the fat cells to make us a little tubbier, and takes Sugar to the muscles and liver to be stored as energy.
Sugar (carbohydrate) is the only substrate that will trigger an insulin release. If no sugar (carbohydrate) is consumed, Insulin response will be limited and therefore fat storage is reduced… Your goal is to drastically reduce and stabilise Insulin release as it also causes the Liver to produce Triglycerides! Read more about breaking the sugar addiction here
The 4 Macro’s/Substrates…
Protein… 1gm = 4cals
Protein is broken down into Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) when digested – These are then used to repair muscle tissue, reinforce the integrity of cell walls, hair and nail growth, etc. The important thing to remember about protein is that you need at least 1gm per kilogram of bodyweight per day as a minimum and your protein choices must be from the following (good quality lean sources in a quantity no larger than your closed fist or approx 150-200gms per serve):
*Lean red meat (lean Beef, Venison or Lamb);
*Chicken or Turkey (not deli meat);
*Legumes in limited amounts (Lentils, Peas, Beans);
*Dairy (Eggs , Milk – Dairy, Almond or Oat/Rice replacements, Cream – Whole, and Yoghurt – Natural only); and
*Plant, Nut and Seed derived sources such as Avocado, Nuts (raw or dry roated, Macadamia are best), Seeds (same as nuts, Quinoa is also a Seed and great source of protein among other things), and NO Soy (There are many opinions on this one click here to read more)
Protein on it’s own, doesn’t cause an insulin response as it isn’t broken down into sugars (There is an exception to this statement… If you are following a keto type diet and only taking in trace carbohydrate, your body will use a metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis to break non-carb macros’ down into sugar for energy production). Happy to speak with anyone out there on this topic…
Carbohydrates… 1gm = 4cals
Carbs are anything that is primarily made up of, or broken down into sugars. I could write a novel about the different types of ‘Saccharides’, how they are broken down and what effect each has on insulin, but there are only a couple of things I want you to take on board and live by with Carbs… The following are your main Carb sources that you would typically consume and are ‘safe’ when eaten on their own and or with other substrates (in the right quantities – no more than 1 cup, cooked, per serve in most cases):
*Grains (Oats, Rice [long grain white, brown or wild], yet hold back on wheat based grains [our digestive systems haven’t progressed enough to process these properly); read more about this here
*Vegetables (Sweet Potato – Red or Orange Skin, Pumpkin, and Carrot/Parsnip). Greens and other more fibrous veges can be eaten by the truck load!;
*Fruit (limit your fruit to only 1 serve per day. Any more than approximately 50gms of Fructose consumed in a sitting will trigger a decent insulin response which in turn causes a triglyceride response from the liver and can raise cholesterol like most refined sugars will).
What you should steer clear of:
Processed, refined sugary sweets such as cakes, lollies, muffins, biscuits… REFINED SUGAR! There is no exception to this rule… If you want sweet, go to www.myfoodreligion.com… You need to read labels and make sure that NONE of the ingredients in whatever you are buying contains sugar (or any other sugar derivative such as dextrose, sucrose, maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners, basically anything that ends in ‘ose’). Because I am a nice guy, I will allow you to use the following as a ‘safe’ replacement (in absolute moderation), while cooking or to sweeten things such as a hot drink:
*Agave Syrup, Pure Maple Syrup, Stevia; or
At the end of the day – STAY AWAY FROM SUGAR!
Fats… 1gm = 9cals
Fats – Here is the low down on fats… A fat is not a fat. Hydrogenated products, and some saturated fats found in Butter and Margarine and from animal sources should be consumed in moderation as they are solid at room temp, raise cholesterol and will likely end up giving you a heart attack (I will temper this by stating that not all animal derived saturated fats are bad. New studies – read anything by Mark Sisson on Paleo – suggest that dependant on the animal, how it is fed and its’ lifestyle and health, will determine if you should be trimming the fat, or eating it). Poly and Mono Unsaturated (mostly plant derived fats) can be eaten freely (within reason), and when choosing oils from this category, look for olive, flax, and or fish… Unrefined, cold pressed and virgin are best. Macadamia Oil is a great choice for cooking as it has a high smoke point and won’t convert to a Trans Fat… That sh!t will kill you!
The ‘low down’ on Coconut Oil (since there is quite a bit of hype around this at present and you will see this pop up in Shan’s recipes among other ‘food religions’ such as Paleo derivatives): more on Paleo here
Coconut Oil is a saturated fat (100%); yet is processed differently given its high Lauric and Stearic Acid content, and subsequent health benefits. It lowers cholesterol, is metabolised by the Liver and used for energy, and is a natural antiviral and antibacterial!
Alcohol… 1gm = 7cals
Alcohol – You should avoid eating ‘after’ consuming alcohol (after all, eating is cheating, right?!?!)… This is the reason for a lot of our weight gain. The reason is this: Alcohol is a poison/toxin and the body will work to excrete it before metabolising the other substrates. It will STORE all substrates while it is working on excreting the ‘poison’! That also means that your sugary mixed drinks are going to cause your body to store all the added sugar too. So, if drinking, try drinking only the following, stay on the one type of drink, drink the equivalent amount of water and don’t eat with it.
*White Spirits (without added sugar); and
*Wine or Champagne.
Righto, now you know a little about the Macro’s/Substrates, here are my ‘Golden Rules’:
My Ten Commandments of Nutrition…
1. You can eat Carbs and Proteins together with little or no Fats only. This is because Carbs cause an insulin response and if you are consuming Fats while eating Carbs, you will store those Fats (As you become more tuned in with your nutrition and fat intake, this can be relaxed a little, as the adipose tissue or fat cells will become more insulin sensitive and release fat more readily… However, for the time being, stick to the rule of no fat with carbs!);
2. You can eat Protein and Fats together, without Carbs (for the reason mentioned above);
3. TRY NOT TO EAT REFINED CARBS WITH FATS. If you have consumed Carbs, try not eat Fats for at least 3hrs after. This is because your insulin levels are still raised for up to approximately 3hrs after consuming Carbs (in most cases).
4. Don’t eat anything with refined Sugar (or any of those ‘oses’) in it’s ingredients… That means NO LOLLIES! There are healthy alternatives such as fresh Berries;
5. DO NOT ADD SALT. Salt causes water retention due to balance of electrolytes and Osmosis. If you consume a lot of Salt/Sodium, your body will shunt it to the skin though Osmosis and that is what causes ‘puffiness’ and temporary weight gain;
6. Perform Metabolic Training in a fasted state (on an empty stomach), preferably before breakfast after sleeping. This is because your stored sugar levels (Glycogen) in the muscles and liver are lower and so your body will use a higher percentage of fat to compensate and provide more energy;
7. Drink a litre of water upon waking and before consuming anything else. This acts as a flush and wakes up your digestive tract. It will also stimulate your metabolism;
8. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING THAT CONTAINS ADDITIVES OR PRESERVATIVES OR IS OUT OF A PACKET;
9. Think like a ‘cave man/woman’. If it has gone through 2 or more processes before hitting the shelf, it is not worth eating, go for foods that are PICKED from a tree/bush, PLUCKED from the ground, or CUT from a lean, fast animal (fish and poultry are best); and
10. Fast for at least 2hrs before bed.
In closing… Don’t submit to pressure. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for an alternate option or for a chef to change a dish so that it doesn’t contain certain things. Remember there is a healthy ‘whole food’ alternative for every dessert or processed food. Start cooking… We can all make the most amazing dishes using ‘whole food’ ingredients within the guidelines of what I have written – our predecessors have done it before us, why can’t we?!