Nutritional trends come in waves. 100+ years ago, most cultures were eating minimally processed foods and grains. 50 years ago fat became the enemy. 10 years ago, carbs became the enemy. The reality is that the body needs both fats and carbohydrates to properly function. Complete elimination of one specific nutrient can lead to health problems down the road.
So what gives? How can one determine the correct amount carbs and fat to reach a specific fitness goal? That nutrient requirement will certainly vary depending on the goal itself. If you missed it yesterday, we talked about how managing portion sizes is a step to take control of food intake. Today we’re talking about what that food consist of: fats, carbs, and proteins (we’ll go over this tomorrow).
One argument for the case against carbs, is that when eliminating carbs, weight loss is so much faster. The truth to this is that most of the weight that’s lost is water. One gram of carbohydrate results in four grams of water retention. When you cut them out, that’s a significant amount of water. This makes eating bacon, cheese, and avocados even more enticing. However, glucose and carbohydrate intake is very crucial to energy production, muscle recovery and brain function.
Fats are often linked to chronic diseases, elevated lipids, and other issues. But just like carbs, not every fat is categorized the same. In fact, sources like avocados, nuts, fish, and eggs provide healthy fats that are necessary for hormone production, and brain function.
Without these two crucial ingredients, the human body is really missing out on key energy sources.
If you don’t have the time, nor the mental bandwidth to measure out your food to the gram (and track it in My Fitness Pal); then the hand method is a great way to keep track of your portion sizes. The great thing about your hands is that you always have them with you, and you don’t have to take the time to measure the food. Think about the following serving sizes (for each meal, 2-3 meals/day)
Thumb size piece of fat
Cupped handful of carbohydrates
If you’re a woman and want to lose weight, stick with 1-2 portions of above as a general guide. Eat based off of hunger and energy levels. If you want to gain some weight, add an extra portion (for a total of 2-3).
If you’re a man and want to lose weight, focus on 2-3 portions of the nutrients above as a guide. Use hunger and energy as your guide. If you want to gain some weight, add another portion (total of 3-4).
The good news is that vegetables are an entirely different food group for the hand guide; and it’s encouraged for you to eat as much as possible! If 12lbs of vegetables per week sounds like a lot of veggies, then you’re not eating enough! Think about having at least 2 fist fulls of vegetables for each meal to help satisfy any of your hunger cravings, and go for an extra helping of this food group before you get another source of carbs or fat.
Carbs aren’t bad, and fats aren’t bad. We just need to keep an eye on how much we eat. So go ahead, enjoy your food and don’t be scared to add butter to your bread (just stick with your portion hand guide!)
If you need more help on this, click here to book a call with our nutrition coach Amber. This 15 minute call will help you get a better grasp of what the best route is for you: low carb, low fat, or a balance between the two.
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