By Anne Keckler | February 12, 2008
A lot of people are confused about nutrition, and it’s easy to understand why. Back in the 1980′s, Dr. Pritikin made it popular to eat a low-fat diet. Suddenly, everyone was concerned about cholesterol, and eggs were bad, while margarine was touted as the new health food. Then the 1990′s rolled around, and the low-carb craze began, with Dr. Atkins leading the way. Now we hear a lot about the dangers of trans-fats, which includes margarine!
What’s a person supposed to eat?
Rather than make a list of good and bad foods, I want to teach you a little bit about nutrition. Then you will be able to make your own choices about which foods fit into your own plan, and will help you to reach your goals.
We’ve all heard about fat and carbs and protein. Those are called macronutrients. Between these three macronutrients, and alcohol, we get all of our calories, or units of energy. I’ll write more about caloric requirements in an upcoming post.
Macronutrients are essential to our survival. They provide us with energy, regulate our hormones, and provide the building blocks for new cells, including muscle and fat.
In addition to macronutrients, we also need plenty of water, and micronutrients – vitamins and minerals.
The ratio of macronutrients you need depends on your lifestyle and your goals. In other words, nobody can make a blanket statement that says everyone needs to get 40% of their calories from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat. Nor can we say that it should depend on things such as body type or your metabolic type. The only things that determine the correct ratio for you is your lifestyle and your goals, unless you have a metabolic disorder such as diabetes mellitus.
Each macronutrient serves a specific function. I want to do each one justice, so I’ll be writing about them separately. For now, you might want to get a handle on what your current ratios are. You can track your diet, including calories, macronutrients, water, and some micronutrients at places like Fitday.com or Sparkpeople.com.
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