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Nutrition basics

Updated: Mar 23, 2022




Watch the video for a quick summary or read below for the more in depth post.


 


 

Macronutrients (macros) and calories are two terms that get thrown around a lot in the fitness world. In this post you are going to learn exactly what they refer to, and how they influence your nutrition decisions.


Calories

A calorie is simply the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. When we talk about food, we actually use kilocalories, which means the amount of energy required to raise 1000g (a kilo) by 1 degree Celsius.

For the sake of simplicity, we can consider a calorie to be a unit of energy.


Why does your body need calories?

Our body needs a molecule called ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) to produce muscular contractions. These contractions are occurring constantly, with or without our knowledge. Your heart, intestines and other organs all have their own muscular contractions, even without us thinking about it. We only have a limited amount of ATP in our body and we are constantly making more of it and breaking it down. It’s during this process that the energy from food turns into the energy being used up for life.


Nutrient density matters

Calories are not all equal

Nutrients are vitamins and minerals, molecules that help your body function at its best. A lack of these nutrients, (nutrient deficiency) can lead to poor performance and even illness. Nutrient density is the amount of nutrient that comes with each calorie. Think of it like a ratio.


For example, a serving of blueberries has many more nutrients for a given number of calories than a milkshake does.


Foods that are high in nutrients usually come from natural and unprocessed sources. To be sure about how natural a food is, you can ask yourself three questions: Can I pick it, hunt it or dig it? If the answer is no to all three, that food has been processed in one way or another. As a general rule, the more food is processed, the fewer nutrients it has. If we take bread or pizza for example, you can still have delicious, minimally processed pizzas and bread if all ingredients are natural. Or you can have more processed pizzas and breads with preservatives, white flour, and other processing techniques.