It’s important to be knowledgeable about nutrition, but don’t let it stress you or take over your life. However, it’s important to understand the basics because it could lead to not having enough of the critical nutrients, or you could have an imbalance. So, start slow, and enjoy the journey, and don’t go too intense into it otherwise it will intimidate you.
First step is knowing your calories – what is needed and how many you’re taking in. It’s all a balance. I would not become a slave to calories, but I would generally be aware. Depending upon your goal, whether it is losing weight, leaning up/out, or weight gain, you will either want a calorie deficit or a calorie surplus.
Second step is to know your macronutrients (“macros”). I would learn about protein, healthy/unhealthy fats, and carbs. I would learn about food sources, how it is grown, and definitely know about what is artificially added in. Then I would look at when you eat them, and ratios between the macros. I can’t provide generic advice, because all this depends upon your goals. You need to always eat with a purpose. Know what your goals are, and what it takes to achieve your goals.
Third step, which is more complicated, is learn about micronutrients (“micros”). This is less important, and where people begin to stress out. Micros consist of vitamins and minerals. Your body needs smaller amounts of micros relative to macros.
We get our micros from the food that we eat versus producing it in our bodies. This is why micros are also referred to as “essential nutrients.” Vitamins are organic compounds made by plants and animals, but that need heat, acid or air to break them down. Minerals are inorganic and are found in soil and water and can’t be broken down.
Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth, immune function, brain development and many other critical functions. In addition, certain micronutrients play a role in preventing and fighting disease. It’s important to know what each mineral and vitamin does, but it can be inundating. Therefore, it’s best to eat a variety of foods to mix it up and get a sufficient number of vitamins and minerals.
These are a few signs that you may not be getting enough calories, the right mix of macros, or maybe missing out on the right micros:
- Being constantly fatigued throughout the day, despite adequate sleep.
- Waking up in the middle of the night hungry
- Being inconsistent with certain bodily functions
- Being constantly sore and taking days to recover from a tough workout
- Experiencing gas, bloating, reflux or extreme fatigue immediately after meals
- Constantly being depleted of energy halfway through your workouts and/or you are experiencing cramping
- Being unable to make strength gains
- Being unable to achieve your desired body fitness goals despite being consistent with a program designed by an expert
- Being in a constant state of hunger throughout the day regardless of having eaten sufficient calories
I wouldn’t recommend stressing about all this information. I recommend reading about it, working with a trained/experienced nutritionist, and remembering that variety is the spice of life.
If you want a program to help you, or if you just have questions, reach out to me.