Featured image credit: Carnivore Style
To someone who has started a fitness journey or has been wanting to for a while, it’s hard to figure out where to start. You may be thinking, “I just have to eat a bunch of bland salads and work out a lot.” I can assure you that this is just a misconception.
In reality, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you have to consume wholesome meals filled with various ingredients. Such include micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, as well as the essential macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
I am not a dietician, of course, but food science is very intriguing to me. Through writing this article, I desire to advocate and inform others on healthy eating, positivity and more. Do not forget that everyone is different, so different things work for different people.
Be aware that you should always consult a dietary specialist and/or physician before altering your diet! However, first things first, you have to understand what you are consuming before you consume it, right?
Macro 1: Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are composed of glucose molecules that provide energy for your body and are imperative in any diet. They are sugars, starches and fibers that provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. The energy density of carbohydrates is approximately 4 kilocalories per gram.
For a more comprehensive scientific analysis of carbohydrates and their nutritional value – click on this link. Some carbohydrate sources are fruits, vegetables, pasta, breads, as well as other grain and milk products. A common misconception is that overconsumption of carbohydrates has a negative connotation. However, this only applies to carbohydrates within processed foods.
Macro 2: Proteins
The building blocks of proteins are amino acids. To summarize it (so that I don’t bore you with all the scientific details), proteins make up body tissue and are a crucial fuel source. Some lean protein sources include (but are not limited to) fish, beef, chicken, turkey, shrimp, eggs, oats, tofu, broccoli, tuna, milk, greek yogurt, nuts, and more. Similar to carbohydrates, proteins provide 4 kilocalories per gram.
Macro 3: Fats
While some fats are bad for you, there are among countless others that are crucial for your body. The building blocks of fats are lipids. Phospholipids, which make up our cell membranes, have a three part structure with a glycerol and phosphate head, along with two fatty acid tails.
Triglycerides – which provide insulation for your body and energy for your cells – have a two part structure, a glycerol head and 3 fatty acid tails. They provide 9 kilocalories of energy per gram, as opposed to the energy content of proteins and carbohydrates.
Some sources of high fat foods that are beneficial are avocados, cheese, whole eggs, fish (such as salmon with a high Omega-3 content), nuts, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, full-fat yogurt, and even dark chocolate! Some fats to beware of include saturated fats, which have no double bonds, along with trans fats.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate a lot of junk food, especially during my freshman year of high school. As a result, I gained a significant amount of weight – a consequence which I wasn’t concerned with as much as the persistent self consciousness, lack of self-esteem, and lethargy faced with it.
I decided to aspire towards a healthier lifestyle in my sophomore year. This year, I may have lost weight, but most importantly, I gained confidence, attentiveness, a positive mindset, and more. When you stabilize your physical health to a form that you feel content with, your spiritual and mental wellbeing flourish.
One example of a sustainable diet that I focused on the most was the Mediterranean diet. This has very few limitations in comparison to other diets.
In addition, I placed the food I cooked in containers – a method which encouraged me to eat controlled portions to avoid binging. This was effective for me because I had a tendency to overeat in the past. Portion control is crucial in any diet, but the portions should be reasonable and filling, not restrictive.
Also, a caloric deficit (decreasing your daily or weekly caloric intake) is beneficial, but only to a certain extent. You should still consume enough that supports the needs of your body. For example, I brought my own lunch to school and avoided the school snack store as best as possible.
Balancing Your Lifestyle
Whether you are losing fat, gaining weight, muscle, or maintaining body composition, we all have a similar goal in terms of an ideal lifestyle. That goal is to uphold a balanced diet and prosper. When I say “balanced,” I mean a diet composed of all these macronutrients and organic molecules in various proportions based on your specific dietary needs.
Of course, every individual is different, and diets can consist of various things. However, it’s important to establish the idea and acknowledge that we are all striving toward the same objective – to be healthy.
Health is the most important thing in life. Without it, we cannot live, be happy, be successful, or do anything for that matter. Our nutritional well-being is one of the only things we as human beings can control that will impact our present and future existence. Therefore, we should be considerate and conscientious of it. Good luck and stay positive!