Welcome to the New Year, where resolutionists live with vim, vigor, and a brand new shaker bottle. Before you stock up on expensive supplements filled with ingredients that you can't pronounce, let's talk about food!
Food is defined as any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth. However, food has a lot more meaning to people than maintenance and growth - we turn to food in good times and bad, during celebrations and tragedies. We defined food, but what is it, really? What kinds of food will help you sustain energy? Fuel your brain? Help you maintain a healthier weight? First, you need to know that food is comprised of three macronutrients - protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Proteins are the most versatile macromolecules in living systems and serve crucial functions in essentially all biological processes. They function as catalysts, they transport and store other molecules such as oxygen, they provide mechanical support and immune protection, they generate movement, they transmit nerve impulses, and they control growth.
Carbohydrates provide your body with energy. Most of the carbohydrates in the foods you eat are digested and broken down into glucose (sugar) before entering the bloodstream. Glucose in the blood is taken up into your body’s cells and used to produce a fuel molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through a series of complex processes known as cellular respiration. Cells can then use ATP to power a variety of metabolic tasks.
Fats (aka lipids) are used for four things; insulation and long-term energy storage, being a primary component of cell membranes, hormonal functioning, and helping to control the fluidity of cell membranes.
I know what you're thinking. THAT WAS A LOTTA SCIENCE. How do I make food WORK for me?
Here's the bottom line my friend - all three of these macronutrients are essential to your diet and your lifestyle. Between energy, movement, DNA and cell structure, they all play a valuable role in your body. Additionally, you will get the most out of your macros when they're consumed together! To most effectively absorb nutrients, work on building your plate with all three macros. That means consuming protein, carbs, and fat in every meal.
Here are some portion sizes to work with:
Protein should be about the size of your palm (fingers not included).
Vegetables and fruits (carbs) should take up the remaining space of the plate (around 1-2 cups). Keep the moderate food list in mind here, and remember that vegetables should be the primary carb - not fruit.
Fats that are oils or grass-fed butters should be be about the size of your thumb, or two tablespoons. Avocados can be eaten by the half, or the whole. Nuts and seeds should only fill a closed handful, but coconut flakes or olives can fill an open handful! This macro goes on top of your other food portions to complete the meal.
Real talk for a minute.
Coffee is not breakfast.
Cold cereal is not breakfast.
Fast food is NOT breakfast!
Two scrambled eggs with spinach, diced peppers and onions topped with half an avocado IS breakfast.
Get the picture? You will find that when you build your meals using all three macros, you'll feel fuller longer, have more sustained energy, and less brain fog.