Nutrition 101 + Calorie Cheat Sheet + Daily Food Journal
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Since this here is my first blog post, I find no better time than right now to share this with everyone. The write up is a condensed version of an ebook that I wrote a couple years ago. It gives pretty deep insight into macronutrients and how they work within our bodies. There is also a water calculation that you can use to find out exactly how many ounces of water you need to be fully hydrated.
After the article I have attached something special that I put together over the last few days, I was debating on strictly giving it to only my client base but decided that it could be a powerful resource for anyone looking to fully change their diet; it's attached to the bottom of this write-up.
Feel free to bookmark, copy & paste this in your notes, or print it if you'd like, it's a great reminder for those just starting their journey.
This word right here should now become ingrained in your head. Whether you are trying to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain your weight, you must track your calories.
Calories are a unit of measurement for energy. Your body requires a certain amount of energy daily depending on your goals. In order to reach your goals, you must consume the proper amount of energy. This energy is made up of your macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbs.
Protein is the building block of muscle and is your #1 macro nutrient when dieting, exercising, or putting on muscle mass. This is a very thermogenic nutrient which means it takes a lot of energy to break the protein down and this raises your core temperature. This is good because your body always wants to stay at a average temperature of 98.6 degrees so it burns extra calories to control the heat increase. Roughly about 20% of the calories is burned of in digestion of protein, also called protein synthesis. Protein is 4 calories per gram.
Most people think carbs are the enemy when it comes to dieting but really, it's all about calories. Carbohydrates are used by your body as the primary energy source. Carbs are converted to glycogen which is then by used by the muscles and organs for fuel. Low carb diets are very successful because as you lower your carbs your body has to pull from its own reserves (fat). About 7% of carbs are burned off in digestion and is 4 calories per gram.
There are two main types of carbohydrates, simple carbs and complex carbs.
Simple carbohydrates are composed of simple-to-digest, basic sugars with little real value for your body. The higher in sugar and lower in fiber, the worse the carbohydrate is for you — remember those leading indicators when trying to figure out if a carbohydrate is good or bad.
Fruits and vegetables are actually simple carbohydrates — still composed of basic sugars, although they are drastically different from other foods in the category, like cookies and cakes. The fiber in fruits and vegetables changes the way that the body processes their sugars and slows down their digestion, making them a bit more like complex carbohydrates.
The most important simple carbohydrates to limit in your diet include:
- Candy - Soda - Artificial syrups - Sugar - White rice, white bread, and white pasta - Potatoes (which are technically a complex carb, but act more like simple carbs in the body) - Pastries and desserts
Complex carbohydrates are considered "good" because of the longer series of sugars that make them up and take the body more time to break down. They generally have a lower glycemic load, which means that you will get lower amounts of sugars released at a more consistent rate — instead of peaks and valleys —to keep you going throughout the day.
Picking complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates is a matter of making some simple substitutions when it comes to your meals. Have brown rice instead of white rice, have whole-wheat pasta instead of plain white pasta. To know if a packaged food is made of simple or complex carbohydrates, look at the label. Read the box so you know what exactly you're getting. If the first ingredient is whole-wheat flour or whole-oat flower, it's likely going to be a complex carbohydrate. If there's fiber there, it's probably more complex in nature. Stay away from foods containing the words, " enriched, bleached, or modified."
Fat is a very important nutrient because even though people don't want excess fat on their body, fat is what most hormones are made from. At 9 calories a gram, it's the densest macronutrient so keeping fats low especially when carbs are high is a must if your goal is to stay lean.
There are 5 types of fats:
- Saturated fat: This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Trans fat: This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. By partially hydrogenating oils, they become easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than do naturally occurring oils. Research studies show that these partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Monounsaturated fat: This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
- Polyunsaturated fat: This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. It may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, the body doesn't convert it and use it as well as omega-3 from fish.
Now that we have calorie break down out of the way, next I'll explain the importance of water and sodium.
Most of us take it for granted. But have you ever taken a moment to stop and think just how important water is to you? For the human body, water is truly a vital resource. You can go weeks without food but only 5-7 days without water. When the water in your body is reduced by just 1 percent, you become thirsty. At 5 percent, muscle strength and endurance declines significantly and you become hot and tired. When the loss reaches 10 percent, delirium and blurred vision occur. A 20 percent reduction results in death.
There is no more important nutrient for our bodies than water. No other substance is as widely involved in the processes and make up of the body. A man's body is about 60 percent water, and a woman's is approximately 50 percent. Did you know that the human brain is about 75 percent water?
How much water do you need daily? Use this equation:
Your weight x .52 = the minimum amount of water in oz you should drink daily
HOW TO STRUCTURE MEALS
Essentially, it makes no difference if you eat 1 meal a day or 8 meals a day, at the end of the day it all comes down to calories in vs calories out. You can optimize certain times of the day to build more muscle or lose more weight though so here's a good way to look at:
Morning - you just wake up from a 6-8 hour fast (sleep) and you body has been deprived of nutrients, this is a good time to have some protein (for muscles), complex carbs (for sustained energy), simple carbs like fruit (for instant energy).
Snack - two to three hours after your first meal you'll want continue to feed your metabolic furnace. If you condition your body to continuously burn calories, then weight loss will be easier and eating often will keep you from overeating during your main meals. This meal should be mainly protein with some light carbs and fats; 200-250 calories for females and 275-325 for males.
Mid-day - this meal should be very similar to the morning meal. If you're very active during your day, throw some simple sugars into your meal, if you're mainly sedentary though out the day it would be better to stick with whole grains and vegetables. Always high protein.
Snack - this is your second snack of the day and because it's later in the afternoon, drop the carbs and shoot for fats and protein only. String cheese, almonds (very low carb), or cottage cheese is a great choice.
Evening - this meal is tricky, most people have potatoes, rice, or beans for dinner but unless your main goal is mass gain, stay away from the carbs. You're going to be asleep soon and the last thing you want is to load yourself up with energy that you won't use. A good example would be a 3-4oz piece of salmon with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus.
Now that all your meals are taken care of, I'm going to bust the myth of eating before bed. Like I said above, at the end of the day it comes down to calories in vs calories out. Will you get fat if you eat 2 cups of rice before bed but you only ate 1000 calories... No, no you won't.
You do want to go to bed on an empty stomach (at least 3 hours) because while you sleep your body releases growth hormone. Insulin blunts the release of this so to take advantage of this super anabolic hormone and increase the speed of your results, you shouldn't eat 3 hours before your slumber.
These are your basic, "need to knows" we will be working with you more hands on but this is a great reference sheet incase you forget any of the basics later on down the line.
Now, here are the items I promised you at the top of this article. First there is a Calorie Cheat Sheet. This is a very wide range of food items with full portions and calorie breakdown. I also included carb and fat breakdown in most of the items for those people doing Keto and those doing low-carb. Sorry, I have not added protein to this list yet as it's one of my "to-do"s" still, so for any bodybuilders reading this, you're just going to have to google it... plus, you should already have that memorized if you're serious about training.
The second attachment is a Daily Food Journal which goes hand-in-hand with the Calorie Cheat Sheet that I created. This will help you plan or structure your days, if nothing else, it can be used to track the foods you eat throughout the day. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail... now how corny is that? True though.