Nutrition and Fitness:
Nutrition is defined as food or fuel our body needs to perform normal body functions. It generates energy which is used to sustain life and perform daily activities as well.
Human body requires around 30 calories per kg of body weight and it may be higher or lower depending upon one’s age, sex, activity and amount of physical work done throughout the day. So for a 50 kg person minimum caloric requirements should be 1500. In this case if the calorie consumption is less than 1500 it leads to stress to the body as body is not getting enough fuel to carry out various physiological processes and functions. If this continues for long time can result in chronic diseases like dietary deficiencies, bone deformities, joint troubles to name a few.
Everyone knows consuming more calories than required can result in weight gain. But eating less calories than required over a period of time can lead to weight gain as well. The reason being with less calories body reacts by lowering the metabolism which in turn makes weight loss harder and even weight gain if deficit continues. That’s the reason fad or extreme diets only work for short time.
So eating balanced diet which provide optimum calories is the key to health and fitness. For weight loss key is to manage from where these calories are coming from. A balanced diet consists of proper ratio of three major nutrients present in food.
For maintaining a healthy weight the ratio of carbohydrates, fats and proteins should be 50:30:20 respectively.
Carbohydrates:50% of our total calorie requirement should come from carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the starches or sugars in food that mainly provide energy. This is the first thing that is used for energy when our body performs any work. Needless to say even at rest all our systems like respiratory, cardiovascular, excretory, digestive and nervous system are all working continuously and carbohydrates is the first resource to drive energy from. Carbohydrates are different kinds depending upon the time they get digested or absorbed by the body after ingestion. We will broadly divide them into two kinds: Simple and Complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates provide instant energy as they get absorbed readily but unless body is performing strenuous work body can’t utilize the whole energy so the extra gets stored in body as fat. For this particular reason its advised to consume as much as complex carbohydrates as in order to digest complex carbohydrates body utilize energy so less and less chances of it to be converted into fat. Sources of Complex Carbohydrates are Vegetables, Whole grains, Unpolished rice, lentils, legumes and whole wheat cereals.
Fats(oils): Fats are calorie dense nutrients which also provide energy along with carbohydrates but this is not the first source of energy. In absence of carbohydrates body utilize fat stores to generate energy and fats are required for many other body functions like production of certain hormones, maintaining joint structure and providing insulation to various organs of body. Fats are broadly of two kinds Saturated and Unsaturated. 20 % of total calories in diet should come from Fats. Out of which 30% should be saturated and 70% should be unsaturated. Saturated fats should not be avoided completely in moderation they have many benefits.
Sources of saturated fats are all fats from animal origin like butter, ghee, cream, meats and coconut oil as plant origin. Unsaturated fats come from all other oils like vegetable oils, olive oil, fish oil etc. Fats are even useful in weight loss programs so all those low fat or fat free diets just leads to one or more deficiencies rather than effective in long term weight loss.
Proteins: 30% of our daily calories should come from proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of our body. Each and every call of our body is made of protein and its required for repair and regeneration of cells as well. Moreover its required to manufacture various enzymes and hormones as well. Its deficiency is rather common and even worse in people following vegetarian or vegan diets. Its not right that vegans or vegetarians cant fulfill their daily protein requirements but they have difficulty in getting the optimum level. Proteins that come from sources that are of animal origin is considered first class protein as it contains all essential amino acids to complete the protein chains. So chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, milk and milk products are all first class proteins. Beans, lentils, peas, hemp, corn etc are vegetable protein sources but these are deficient in one or more amino acids so in order to complete the protein chains we need to consume them with cereals.
Broadly an average person should take around .8 grams of protein per kg body weight. So for a 50 kg person average protein requirement should be 40 grams.
Other than these major nutrients our body requires certain nutrients that are required in small quantities but are vital to normal functioning of the body. These are called vitamins namely A, D, E, K, B and C Vitamins. A, D, E, K are fat soluble and B, C are water soluble.
Our body requires some minerals as well like Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Phosphorus, Iodine, Iron, Zinc to name a few.
I order to get these vitamins and minerals we must include 5 servings or different colored fruits and vegetables in our diet as well.
Last but not the least is Water. Our body and its each and every cell is made 70% of water. So we need to keep ourselves hydrated and drink at least 8-10 glasses of water everyday. Water is required to absorb and digest every other nutrient in the diet.
In a nut shell proper ratio of nutrient is the key to health and any fitness program to be successful. Most important part is to manage the portions and plan frequent small meals. Which can provide nutrients to body at regular intervals resulting in increased metabolism and maintenance of optimum weight and health.