In the last article I went over calories and what each macro nutrient does for your body, if you did not get to read that article here is the link: https://wordpress.com/view/jhhealth.net. Before we get into setting up your diet there are still a few more terms we need to go over and understand. They are fiber, micro nutrients, and water.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber will often turn to a gel when in water. Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as oats, dried beans, nuts, barley, flax, oranges, bananas, blueberries, apples, artichokes, tomatoes, and carrots.
The other type of fiber is insoluble, this type of fiber adds bulk to stool and helps make sure you have regular bowel movements. Some foods that contain insoluble fiber are celery, root vegetables, green leafy vegetables, the skins of fruits and vegetables, seeds, and some nuts.
What are the benefits of fiber? Fiber has many benefits including helping us feel fuller for longer, lowering our risk of colon cancer, lowers cholesterol, ensures things move through our digestive system, as well as improves our gut health.
The minimal recommendation for daily fiber intake is around 25g per day. Ideally we would want our numbers a little higher than this, precision nutrition says the optimal amount should be around 35g per day for women, and 48g per day for men. They do mention however that not every person can tolerate that much fiber. Certain digestive issues such as inflammatory bowel disease colitis may feel better with less fiber intake during flare ups. This once again proves that there is no right way to eat, it all depends on how you feel and react to certain foods. Just becoming more aware of the food we eat, is the first step into eating better.
The next two things we will go over are called micro nutrients(vitamins and minerals), they are called these because we need much less of them than our macro nutrients (Carbs, Fats, Proteins). While we want to make sure we get enough micro nutrients, we can have too much, so we need to focus on making sure we are getting the right amount. Without these micro nutrients we will not function properly, may get sick more often, and key processes in the body can break down. Micro nutrients also work together, meaning if you get too much of one, than that will affect the balance of another micro nutrient. I dont want you to worry too much about what micro nutrients you are getting so focus on eating a wide range of whole, less processed foods. Here is a list of micro rich foods:
-colorful fruits and veggies
-herbs and spices
-lean proteins (poultry, fish, eggs, red meat)
-beans and legumes
Many chronic and nagging health problems can be attributed to a micro nutrient deficiency. Ideally we would get these micro nutrients through real food, but sometimes it may be beneficial to take a supplement.
Vitamins are active in regular bodily process such as growth, repair, digestions, energy transfer, nervous system function and immunity. We need vitamins in our diet, because we cannot make them without food. Luckily we can get most of our vitamins through food.
There are two types of vitamins, water soluble and fat soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in our fatty tissue and they can accumulate, Vitamins A,D,E, and K are of these kind. Water soluble vitamins are NOT stored as well as fat soluble because we are always taking in and getting rid of water. Therefore we need to get more of these vitamins more often, they include B vitamins and vitamin C.
Just like vitamins they do not directly give us energy but we need them to survive. They aid in building body structures such as teeth and bones as well as help regulate our body fluids. Here is a list of minerals:
-Calcium (leafy greens, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds)
-Iron (this is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide)
-Potassium (Vegetables, potatoes, fruits)
It is important to remember that too much of one can cause issues with another mineral. For example, too much sodium and not enough potassium will cause you to retain water. A good rule of thumb for this is a 1:2 ratio of sodium and potassium. The more active you are the more sodium you will need though, once again its when sedentary people consume too much sodium that it becomes a problem, not to mention most of that sodium is from highly processed foods. So just by eliminating those you will see your sodium intake drop.
Water intake is extremely important for your physique goals as well as many key processes in your body. Some of those key processes in the body include transporting substances, lubricates tissues, regulates our temperature, and provides minerals. For example, when it comes to regulating our body temperature, if our body temperature goes up we sweat, as it evaporates it cools us down.
Making sure we get enough fluid daily is extremely important to maintain fluid balance. We are constantly losing and taking in water. We lose water through sweating, breathing in the air, we can also lose it through our urine and feces. Our body helps regulate our thirst so we know to take in more fluid when we need it. For example, we get thirstier when its warmer out, we have eaten something salty, we have drunk alcohol, and we have been sweating. On the other side we are less thirsty when its colder out, its humid, or we have not been sweating much. It is important to pay attention to these signs because a lack of fluid intake can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration simply means we have not had enough fluid intake, severe cases of dehydration can lead to vomiting, nausea, fever and sweating, and even kidney failure. Once again if you are sedentary these cases are extremely unlikely but if you are exercising or are in extreme conditions like extreme heat then you are more at risk. According to Precision Nutrition there is a big of “lag time” from losing fluid and your body telling you it needs more fluid, therefore its important to keep this in mind because even slight dehydration can lead to decreased thing, focus, and performance. Here is a list of symptoms of dehydration:
- Low blood pressure
Now lets go over some recommendations on water intake. As a baseline most adults will need about 12 cups of fluid each day (we get about 4 cups from food). As with everything else this is just a baseline and each individual persons intake will vary. Bigger people will need more water than smaller people, if you are sick and losing water through diarrhea or vomiting you will need to increase your fluid intake, another factor is if its warmer out Precision Nutrition recommended drinking 2 extra cups, and finally if you are exercising you may need up to 24 cups of water.
One other thing I did want to go over on water is the relationship with water and carbohydrates. Im sure you have heard how people who do low carb diets lose weight really quick, well part of that has to do with how we store water. Carbohydrates increase water storage in the body, for every gram of stored carbohydrate (glycogen) we will store 3-4 grams of water. Therefor low carb diets = less water storage and high carb diets = more water storage.
Now that you know more about what each nutrient does to your body and why they are important lets look into setting up your diet whether you are looking to build mass, cut weight, or just maintain. But first, I do want to reiterate that there is no single diet that is better than any other one, the best diet is one that you can consistently stick with. Not to mention each person may react differently to a certain type of food so it is important that you become more aware of these types of things. Check back later this week to read the article on setting up your diet.
Matthews, M., 2014. Bigger Leaner Stronger. 2nd ed. Oculus Publishers Inc.
Berardi, John, et al. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Third ed., Precision Nutrition, Inc., 2017.