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When you turn on the TV or open a magazine you are bombarded with messages about what you should eat and how much and how you should feel after doing so. Sometimes it is confusing and most of the time discouraging. There are four basic building blocks of nutrition that your body needs everyday. They are protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water. Eat these four and you body will function at a healthy state. In recent years a funny thing has happened. There was a time that we all ate to much protein like eggs and ham, burgers, and steaks they were considered healthy because they put meat on your bones and contained lots of iron. Then every one became more educated and meat was a no-no and pasta was taking it s place. Diet fads may come and go but they best way to eat is the way it has always been balanced among the essential nutrients with a wide variety of foods. Adequate protein is essential to keep your body functioning properly. Half of our dry weight including muscles, hair, nails, and skin is composed of protein. Our cells and immune system rely on protein for maintenance and rebuilding. Our body s don t have the ability to store protein or synthesize all the amino acids we need – that s why eating some protein everyday is so important. Now the lovely carbohydrate comes into place. As wonderful as carbohydrates are for providing energy quickly, to many can send us into a tailspin of low blood sugar from a insulin dump. It s the job of insulin to lower blood sugar levels when they get to high. Insulin does this by taking the excess sugar and storing it as fat. The easiest and best way to avoid extra fat storage and dipping energy levels is to eat the right amount of high fiber carbohydrates so the sugar in these foods enters our blood slowing , keeping the pancreas from releasing high quantities of insulin into the blood stream. If there is a big bad wolf of nutrition it is fat. We can hardly say the word without disgust entering our voices and thoughts. Yet fat is an excellent form of fuel for energy. It is concentrated and we have lots of fat in storage. Also it is easy to include in our diets. The key to making fat a part of a healthy diet is to eat the right kind of fat. Any fat that is solid at room temperature is not our friend it s saturated and brings with it all kinds of heath problems. The best sources of fat come from vegetable sources and are mono- or poly -unsaturated such as peanut, canola, olive, and walnut.
Water is one of the greatest things on the planet. It has no calories or fat. We can drink it warm when we are cold or we can drink it cold when we are hot. It goes with every thing and can be found almost anywhere. It s also essential in keeping us healthy and happy. Dehydration can lead to crankiness and a whole host of other more serious conditions. As a rule of thumb we should try to drink at least eight glasses of water everyday, and even more on workout days. A big glas about 10 – 20 minutes before workout, and 4-8 ounces every ten minutes during workout, keeps us feeling good and functioning optimally. Drinking enough water is especially important for aiding in fat loss. The liver is responsible for metabolizing fat. When our kidneys do not get enough water to perform their functions, they recruit the liver to help them out. If they liver is busy helping the kidneys, the liver cant do it s own job of using up that stored fat for fuel. In addition, our bodies need water to keep cool during exercise and, and to help in digesting the food we eat. There are no rules on how much we need to eat. We can read charts and calculate calories-needed based on calories-expended. Roughly speaking, we should eat about 1-3 ounces of protein at breakfast and 3-4 ounces at lunch and dinner. What is crucial is that we get some protein every day and at every meal or snack that we eat. Along with that protein, we get to have the fun stuff carbohydrates and fat. Carbohydrates that enter the bloodstream slowly (like fruits and vegetables) should be our first choices. Not only do we get the vitamins and minerals they naturally supply, but the fiber in them makes us feel full. A balance throughout the day between grain-based carbohydrates and fruit/vegetable carbohydrates is the best way to feel great. In addition, a small amount of fat (the equivalent of 1-2 teaspoons of oil per meal) will keep the rate of sugar absorption down and keep our energy at optimum levels. We all should feel great about food. It s the source of our power and strength. We all need to get over our fear of eating the wrong thing or eating too much and listen to our bodies. If we pay attention, our bodies will tell us just what we need to know. I think these guidelines help our body to “speak up.”