Our view on nutrition & keeping your body healthy

Nutrition is always viewed as a major player in health and wellbeing. The reason for this is often explained in a very complicated manor which can cause a lot of our heads spin. I am going to attempt to break nutrition down to a very basic form to make it as understandable as possible. Nutrition as a term which is used to describe the food we put into our bodies and the various categories and nutrients that make up our diet.

What we eat is very important and our body requires a balanced diet to maintain a healthy and efficient way of working. I am going to try and explain the basic nutrition.

The body requires 3 main food groups, these are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

In terms of percentage this could be 40-60% carbohydrates, 20 – 25% fats and 20-25% protein.

To break this down even further, if we take 50% carbs, 25%fats and 25% proteins, at a base level (low levels of exercise) this would equal 150g of carbs, 75g of fats and 75g of proteins per day.

This ratio relates to a base level, that would be an individual doing very little exercise and just keeping the body functioning normally. The more exercise you do the greater the number of grams per category you will require, however the percentage balance should remain the same. For example, moderate exercise may require 200g of carbs, 100g of fats and 100g of protein which would still be 50%/25%/25%.

If you are lacking in any of these food groups your body will go into “starvation mode”, you won’t realise this, but your body will. It will then begin storing any excess food as fat to protect the body as a defence mechanism. This is why people can train excessively however not see any change to shape. Therefore, the process of balancing the food groups is one of the most important factors. More often than not it is the protein intake that is lacking. For example, just for your body to conduct basic functional movements such as walking during the day, you require 75g of protein. This is equivalent to two and a half tins of tuna or 3 large chicken breasts per day. Remember this is doing no training, the more training you do the more you will require of each food group. The percentages will remain the same however the amount of food required to make them up will increase or decrease directly with calorie and energy expenditure.

I am going to talk a bit more about fat cells for a moment to help explain the reason behind weight gain.

Fat cells can be created by the body to store excess fat in the adipose tissue however the body can never get rid of fat cells. When you lose weight the fat cells empty and you tone up as you would expect. However, if you have been over weight in the past and revert back to an old diet your body can increase in size a lot more rapidly due to not having to create new fat cells. This is why it is a lot harder for someone who has always been toned to put on excess weight in a short space of time compared to someone who has previously been over weight.

This is why diets which cut out specific food groups are dangerous. You may lose weight very quickly however the weight is being lost because the body is essentially dying. For example, if you cut out carbs that consist of 50% of what your body requires, it will begin to get weaker and not only use up all of the fat stores to protect the body but more importantly it also starts to breakdown and use the muscle tissue within the body which puts a tremendous strain on the organs and body as a whole. This is because when muscle tissue is broken down it provides a greater energy source than the fat stores. Not only this but when you revert back to eating normally everything may begin to get stored in the fat tissue again to further protect the body. This usually causes the body to rapidly balloon back to its original size.

More often than not a body is lacking in a certain food group that prevents weight loss. To counter this, look at what you’re eating and work out what nutrients you are lacking in. Before you decide to reduce what you are eating, try and increase that specific food group and you may see yourself begin to lose weight. If you remain the same weight for a month or longer, begin to reduce the amount you are eating across the board if that means consuming a little less carbs, fats and proteins together and not one food group. This should be done slowly and very gradually until you begin to tone up at a steady rate. The widely accepted and healthy rate to lose weight would be 1-2 pounds per week. You do not want to lose weight too fast as this may also cause the body to re-enter “starvation mode”.

Hopefully you found this short guide helpful, for a more in depth breakdown of diet or if you are unsure, making an appointment with a nutritionist to assess your diet and work out what your specific ratio of food intake should be.

NHS, BAPO and HCPC logos