Regardless of your fitness goals, you’ve likely been bombarded with advice on how and what you should eat. Some will recommend upping your fibre and others will focus more on your calorie intake; however, food is personal. What works for others might not necessarily work for you, right?
That said, you can figure out your individual nutrition needs by understanding the commonly used terms. To help you get started, we’re breaking down three important elements that beginners to nutrition should be aware of—namely calories, fibre and protein.
A calorie is essentially is unit of measurement for the energy intake from food. Our bodies require a certain number of calories in order to perform our daily bodily functions and for healthy development.
Over-eating calories, without burning the excess, can lead to weight gain; whereas under-eating causes malnutrition. Having a balanced approach to the calories we consume is crucial, but the amounts will vary depending on the following:
- Health or illness
According to the guidelines by Public Health England (PHE), the average woman should consume up to 2000 calories a day for maintenance and 1500 calories for losing weight. The average man should maintain with 2500 calories or 2000 calories to lose weight.
That said, don’t forget about the factors which affect your caloric requirements! It’ll help you know how many calories you need in a day.
Protein is not just for body builders. It is an essential component for our cell and muscle development. Required in large amounts by our body, it is, therefore, categorised as a macronutrient. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, proteins are not stored for use and need to be replenished through regular intake.
Aside from aiding in muscle mass and strength development, protein helps promote bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. It also is satiating and helps to reduce cravings while providing other fat burning benefits by boosting your metabolism. It can be found in both animal-and-plant-based sources. These include lean meat, fish, eggs, seeds/nuts, soy products, dairy products, beans and legumes.
When it comes to daily intake, the following parameters are recommended:
- 56-91g for average men
- 45-75g for average women
Much like calories, the intake you need could differ depending on your current weight, height, age and fitness level.
Fibre is an element of the Carbohydrate macronutrient that our bodies can’t digest. It exists in two forms:
- Soluble fibre: dissolves in water and helps to improve blood sugar.
- Insoluble fibre: does not dissolve in water and helps to regulate bowel movements.
Increasing your fibre helps to control cravings so you can avoid the junk while feeling satisfied and moreover, healthy.
For women, 25g of fibre per day is recommended and around 32g per day for men. That said, be cautious! It should be added slowly into your diet to prevent bloating. Additionally, drink plenty of water to help the body process it.
Want a balanced diet? Be mindful of your calories, protein and fibre intake. They are the key elements that make or break a healthy lifestyle. While you do not need to monitor them at all times, being aware and understanding their effects on your body can help you create a diet which helps you live your fullest.