All About Nutrition (And Whats Best for You)
Calories, fat, carbohydrates, and proteinyouve heard of them, but what are they? Why do I need calories? Doesnt fat just make you gain weight? Are fast food restaurants healthy? How can I eat healthier in restaurants? Read on to find out and learn lots more, too.
Calories measure the amount of energy that the body gets from food. Normal body functions (breathing, heart beat) and physical activity (running, playing games) use energy. This energy comes from the food we eat and the energy stored in our bodies from fat, protein, and carbohydrates. If we dont have enough calories, we wont have enough energy, and we will get tired often. If we have too many calories, we will put on some weight and get fatter. Kids need at least 2,000 calories per day.
Carbohydrates are either simple (called sugars) or complex (called starches). Carbohydrates are the most abundant source of calories on earth. The best sources of carbohydrates are cereal, rice, potatoes, breads, spaghetti, fruits, and vegetables. Our bodies need carbohydrates to use fats effectively. Carbohydrates are also needed for proper brain function. Your brain uses a lot of simple carbohydrates each day, the equivalent of 1/3 pound of sugar per day! Carbohydrates should make up about 50 - 55% of your daily calories.
Fats are actually divided into two groups. Unsaturated fats are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Foods high in unsaturated fat are nuts, mayonnaise, oils, and fish such as tuna. Saturated fats are fats that are solids at room temperature. Foods high in saturated fats are butter, cheese, milk, sour cream, chocolate, ice cream, and some fish. Many people think that fats are totally bad for you, but you actually need them. Fats provide insulation and cushioning for your skin and internal organs. Fats are an important source of energy since they contain twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrates and proteins. Fats provide a place for the body to store vitamins A, D, E, and K. And, fats make food taste better by absorbing other ingredients which add flavor and smell to food. With all of these uses, you might feel like you need a lot more fat, but you dont. Your body has almost no requirement for saturated fat. To stay healthy and have just enough fat, limit the amount of fat you eat down to 30% of your daily calories.
After water, protein is the most plentiful substance in our bodies. Almost 20% of our weight is protein in our bodies! Our muscles, hair, nails, skin, and eyes are mostly protein. Protein is important because it provides support for body cells, builds and repairs muscles and other body tissue, and is very important for growth. When enough fat and carbohydrates arent in the body, protein is often used by the body as energy. Foods high in protein are eggs, milk, soybeans, rice, meat, fish, potatoes, corn, and peanuts. Protein should make up about 15-20% of your daily calories.
Foods that are high in protein are often high in saturated fat, which isnt too good. Good ways to get protein without getting a lot of fat are to choose skim milk and low fat cheeses, substitute ground turkey for ground beef, remove the skin from chicken before eating it, and substitute fish for your regular meat.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):
The recommended daily allowance is a set of recommended amounts that the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences established. This tells you what the average person should eat in a day.
Food Pyramid courtesy of Worldguide Fitness
by Sam Miller via email firstname.lastname@example.org (sam)