By Kelsey Emmanuel
You may have heard the quote “Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition.” I do not know how accurate those percentages are, but I do know that food plays a huge role in your everyday life. If you want to start making a difference in how you physically look and feel, it has to start in the kitchen. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information online, where every health and fitness guru is contradicting one another’s facts, and you don’t know where to start, do not fret! I am going to go over the basic building blocks you need to know to properly fuel your fitness.
Macronutrients VS Micronutrients
If you’ve ever started your healthy journey before, I am sure you’ve heard these two words thrown around: macronutrients and micronutrients. First things first, I’m going to break down what those two fancy health terms mean. “Macro” means big. Therefore, macronutrients are “big” nutrients that your body needs, such as fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Your body needs a lot of macronutrients every day to stay full, help with energy and grow muscles. Micronutrients are the ones we need in small amounts, like vitamins and minerals which help your body stay healthy and digest your macronutrients.
While all foods contain carbohydrates, fat or protein, not all foods contain large amounts of micronutrients. We need both types of nutrients to thrive! That is why it is important to be conscientious about the quality of the food you eat. For example, packaged and processed foods contain very low amounts of micronutrients. However, unprocessed foods such as organic and grass-fed animal products, vegetables and fruits are extremely high
in micronutrients. So eat those leafy greens and organic berries!
Track Your Food Intake
Start tracking your food yesterday. Even if you aren’t implementing healthy eating habits yet, start writing down what you are eating regularly. This will show you where you are already doing well and where you are slacking.
The most crucial ingredient you need to make anything work is consistency. To make new food routines consistent in your life, you need to start with small changes and incremental steps that will lead to better eating habits. Eating perfectly for five days and “falling off track” every weekend is not going to help you reach your goals and definitely won’t help your mental health. Try implementing one simple, doable action step that you can perform daily, such as eating a serving of fruit every morning for breakfast. Along with making small, healthy changes to your daily eating habits, tracking your food intake can be a very helpful skill for recognizing your eating patterns and understanding proper portion sizes.
Don’t worry! You do not need to track what you eat for the rest of your life. Tracking your food intake is simply a tool to help you see how you are fueling your body and how you can make adjustments to meet your health and fitness goals. Once you’ve learned what a day of food needs to look like for your body and your goals, you can transition off of tracking and start intuitively eating. You can track your food through apps or grab a designated notebook for logging your food, daily wins and new favorite recipes!
Eat The Cookie
If you are craving ice cream or your favorite salty snack, eat it! It’s important to satisfy your cravings. That being said, if you are properly fueling your body with enough nutrient-dense meals daily, then you will be less likely to crave a ton of junk food.
Losing weight is a science. If you want to lose weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit. If you want to be healthy while losing weight, you need to eat more foods rich in nutrients vs sugar. I like to share healthy alternatives, and I implement them into my own diet, but sometimes there isn’t anything like eating a pint of your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Oftentimes, people will have a craving for one of their guilty pleasure foods, but they decide to eat a healthy alternative instead. But guess what happens? Those apple slices and cashew butter didn’t quite do it, so you decide to eat frozen bananas because people tell you it tastes like ice cream. You eat all the healthy alternatives you have which leads you into a calorie surplus! When you could have just eaten the Ben & Jerry’s to satisfy your craving and be fine and still on track with your goals. Plus, who wants to avoid cookies for the rest of their life?