You have to eat less carbs to lose weight, right?, “I eat more protein so I can gain more muscle”, “Don’t almonds have a lot of fat? I can’t eat too much fat if I want to lose weight”. These are common questions and statements within the health conscious community today. They are reflective of our society’s obsession with the macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) content of food. The problem with this is that although the macronutrient make-up of the food we eat is important, focusing on only this diminishes our ability to understand how food can help to heal and optimize the body to its full working capacity.
What does this mean?
Let’s take a look at a few decades of the past and the dieting trends that were introduced to us. In the 1980’s, there was a large focus on carbohydrates.Consuming a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in protein was the key to losing weight. Things changed in the 1990’s when the focus went to fat. EVERYTHING was low-fat or non-fat. As long as you decreased the fat, you were sure to lose weight. With the turn of the century, the focus changed once again. This time high protein and low carbohydrate diets were the sure way to burn fat and lose weight. However, something is missing from all of the above trends; micronutrient content. For example, if you eat a diet high in carbohydrates, you may fail to concentrate on what type of carbohydrate you are eating. Sugar is a carbohydrate, so is white flour. According to research, these two ingredients are detrimental to our health. Fruits, legumes, beans, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, and buckwheat are also carbohydrates. But, because of their micronutrient make-up (high in fiber, B-vitamins, phyto-enhancing properties, etc.), have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body therefore enhancing the body’s metabolism.
It is just as important to consider the macronutrients as it is the micronutrients. Having said this, in this article, we shall focus on the macronutrient make-up of foods and at the same time mention some of the micronutrient properties of each group.
You will hear most experts describe proteins as the building blocks of the body. They are required for structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. In more detail, they can be in the form of messenger proteins, antibodies, enzymes, and transport/storage proteins. They are vital to the proper functioning of the human body.
Proteins are made up of smaller constituents called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that are essential for the make-up of proteins and each serves a different function in the body. These will be covered in subsequent articles.
Protein can be found in chicken, meat, poultry, dairy and eggs and it can be found from plant based sources like quinoa, buckwheat, beans, legumes, and nuts. It is very important to note that if you eat animal sources of protein that you choose organically grown, free range meat, chicken, and eggs as well as organic dairy. Otherwise, you will consume large amounts of toxins from antibiotics and hormones.
In addition to the above, soy should also be mentioned here. Soy is also a form of plant protein. However, the only form of this protein one should ingest is in its fermented forms of soy sauce, tempeh, or miso. The reason is that fermentation kills the toxins or responsible for destroying digestive enzymes in humans. Soy is also one of the most genetically modified foods in the world (99% is genetically modified), contains the largest percentage of pesticides, and suppresses thyroid function. Therefore, unless it is fermented, it should be avoided.
Your SuperBody app can tell you how much protein you need according to your specific requirements. In general, a healthy individual needs about 1-2 grams of protein per kilogram depending on age, sex, activity level, and health.
Fad diets have made many health conscious people afraid of carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates can be sugar or they can be in the form of fruit. As a macronutrient group, carbohydrates provide the main source of energy to our bodies and our brains.
However, as we were saying, one must look at the content of what each macronutrient offers. We must avoid the “bad” carbohydrates which are linked to a higher rate of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Foods like refined white flour and sugar should be avoided. They should be replaced with “good” carbohydrates which come from a plant-based diet. These include beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables and sprouted whole grains. These carbohydrates will not only give you energy, but will provide you with fiber, phyto-nutrients, vitamins like vitamin C, B3 and B12, and beta-carotene and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. All these nutrients have proven to lower the risk of the fore-mentioned diseases.
It is important to note that research has shown that a higher fiber content in the diet promotes weight control. Therefore, choose brown rice instead of white or oats in the morning instead of sweetened cereals.Depending on one’s needs, 45-65% of calories should come from high-fiber carbohydrates. Again, consult with your SuperBody app to see how much you require.
Fats serve various functions in the body. They provide energy, absorb vitamins, store fat for subsequent use, maintain proper body temperature, and provide a cushion for our skeletal system and major organs. There are three main types of fats: saturated, mono-unsaturated, and polyunsaturated. For a long time, saturated fats have been demonized by being connected to higher cholesterol levels. If one were to look at the history of nutrition, however, this is not the case. The more stable a fat is (saturated are the most biochemically stable) the less likely it is to cause oxidative damage within the body. Research has also shown that there is no link with the increased consumption of saturated fat with heart disease. The best types of saturated fats to consume are coconut oil, butter from grass fed animals, and eggs.
Mono-unsaturated fats are the second most stable fats and are not as susceptible to oxidative damage. These fats can be found in olives and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats are the most detrimental to our health because of their high susceptibility to oxidative damage. These include foods like sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, flax oil, sesame seed oil, pumpkin seed oil and canola (or rapeseed) oil. These oils should be eliminated from the diet. In general, 25-30% of the diet should come from fat. Check your SuperBody app to see how much you need.
As one can see, it is very important to judge macronutrient AND micronutrient density of foods. Looking at what TYPE of carbohydrate, protein, or fat you eat is just as important as how much you eat.