Foods You Need
Nutrition — the science of food and its effect on our bodies — is pretty new, at least in comparison to other sciences. But at this point, the science has singled out about 40 specific nutrients, each of which has a purpose. Each nutrient is a chemical that fulfills one of three functions in the body: gives you energy, helps grow and repair tissue, or regulates your metabolism.
Nutrients include water, vitamins, and minerals, which grow and repair tissue; and carbohydrates, fat, and protein, which give you energy by providing calories. All of the nutrients regulate your metabolism by helping your body function smoothly and in balance.
The most important thing to remember is that every nutrient is important, and the idea that you need to cut out fat, or carbs, or any other nutrient for that matter, is just wrong. The best eating plans balance nutrients and utilize the healthiest ones, but all nutrients are important and have a job to do, so cutting any one of them out completely is not good for your health or your fitness.
As everyone knows, the news is filled with reports about food that is good for you and a food that is bad for you, and those two foods are often the same. As nutritional research develops, so does the advice we get. For example, an egg has protein (in the white part) and fat (in the yellow part), but no carbohydrates. The white has few other nutrients, while the yellow has a high amount of vitamin B12 and folate.
Nutritionists used to think that because the yellow part held all the fat, it wasn't good to eat too many yolks, but now they know that the fat in an egg is good for the brain and doesn't contribute to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Likewise, even though this section of the book covers nutrients, the fact is, we think about eating food, not specific chemicals. So, it's much more helpful to think about eating nutritious foods than to think about giving ourselves specific nutrients.
It's quite possible that we know only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrition. For example, 10 years ago no one knew that dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which are good for you. Instead, everyone assumed that because chocolate contains a high amount of saturated fat, it wasn't nutritious.
So it's best to keep this general rule in mind: eat moderate amounts, and eat a wide variety of whole foods rather than processed foods. Just following that one rule will be enough to help you make wiser meal choices.
Calorie Types and Body Weight
Your body does not discriminate based upon the types or source of calories. For example, when you eat, it doesn't matter whether the calories consumed are high fat, low fat, or nonfat. The bottom line is you have taken in more calories.
When the body accumulates an excess of 3,500 calories (in other words, calories that are not being used), it will store them as one pound of fat regardless of whether they are from carbohydrates, fat, or protein. In terms of storage and weight gain or loss, a calorie is a calorie.
Where do calories come from? Calories come from only carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, not from vitamins or minerals. And each of these three nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) has its own energy value.