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Nutrition 101

Food provides our body with a range of different nutrients. Some nutrients provide us with much needed energy, while others are essential for our maintenance & growth of the body. 

Some of the nutrients we need are in the form of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. These are called macronutrients and we need to eat them in relatively proportioned amounts in our diet as they provide our bodies with energy and also the building blocks for growth and maintenance. You can use our wellness coach calculator to gauge the number of macronutrients your body needs per day here. Vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients which our body needs in small amounts, however these micro powerhouses are essential to keep us healthy. There are also other components within our food chain that some would say are not strictly ‘nutrients’ but are really important for health, such as water and fibre. All of these are covered in more detail in our wellness blog.

The key to healthy eating is moderation and balance, at wellnesscoach.ie we like to work off the 40:30:30 principle as explained on our calculator page here. The eat-well plate is a portion guide to the foods we should eat from each food group. As you can see some of the groups are larger than others. Most of what we are supposed to eat should come from foods shown in the two biggest food groups on the plate - complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables (make up the 40 ratio). The meat, fish, eggs, beans, seeds and oils group and the milk and dairy products group are slightly smaller (make up the remaining 30 ratios). Try to eat less from these groups, also try to limit the intake of foods that are higher in fat and sugar. This model is a guide and we encourage you aim to get the balance right between the different food groups over the course of your day, week, etc.

If you tend to struggle it is important that you try to stick to the proportions of the eat-well plate. This in turn will help you to stop overeating foods high in fat, sugar or salt, which in the long term could be detrimental to our overall health. However, there are foods and drinks can be part of a healthy diet as well as a healthy active lifetyle, so don’t you have to give up these foods and drinks that we really enjoy, unless otherwise advised by your doctor or wellness coach.

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Essential Nutrients - Protein

Protein

Why is protein is the main nutrient to get right in your diet? Protein is the building block of life and is essential for cell growth and tissue repair. Protein is also responsible for the building and repairing of muscle tissue, especially after exercise.

Protein functions:

Protein builds lean muscle mass, assists with muscle recovery while also contributing to a better bone health. Protein helps our immune systems to function properly too.

Sources of protein:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Poultry and lean white meat
  • Lean red meat
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and pulses

High quality protein shakes and bars (wellnescoach.ie recommends Formula 1)

Proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids are called complete or high quality proteins e.g. meat, eggs, dairy products and soy beans.

How much protein do I need?

A quick “guide” to how much protein is required per day is as follows. For somewhat inactive individuals would be 0.83g per kg of body weight per day. For those of us that are participating in endurance and strength training, the protein recommendations are a higher, between 1.3 to 1.7 grams of protein per kg of your body mass per day. For example a 70kg person who exercises regularly should consume between 90 to 120g of protein per day.

The best time to consume protein

The recovery period after exercise is a time when our bodies are very receptive to using dietary protein to build muscle. During the recovery period (within 30min post workout), 25-30g high quality protein is sufficient to effectively stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

 

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Essential Nutrients - Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a major source of fuel for our body and it is critical for daily functioning, including exercising. As we know there are good and bad carbs.

Good carbs:

Complex carbohydrates; Whole-grains, pastas and cereals and brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, Fruits & Veg, the more colourful fruits and vegetables apart from supplying us with carbohydrates also supply us with the much needed micronutrient vitamins and minerals.

Bad carbs to avoid:

Sweets and sugars as they tend to be very high in simple sugars and usually have very little to no fibre, vitamins and minerals

 

Carbohydrates and exercise

When you increase your physical activity, you simply need to increase your intake of healthy carbohydrates. Change to whole-grain carbohydrates instead of white carbohydrates where possible.

Switch to fruits and vegetables or small amounts of protein for snacks. Believe it or not carbohydrates are stored in the body in the form of glycogen in muscles and liver but unlike fat, it is a limited store that gets expelled quickly.

Both endurance and resistance training or a few hours seriously deplete your glycogen stores. Without sufficient glycogen stores, training will forever feel harder and your performance will suffer.

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Essential Nutrients - Fibre

Fibre

We like to call Fibre the brush for the bowel. The plain and simple fact is we do not get enough fibre and if the truth be known, we do not know what foods are high in fibre. Fibre provides bulk to our gut while also keeping our digestive tract healthy.  By adding the right amount of fibre a day, we balance bowel regularity and normal colonic function. We recommend an intake of 24g – 30g a day for adults but and there is a but. You need to consume the right amount of hydration to make all of this work. Simply put, fibre needs water

Good sources of fibre:

  • beans,
  • pulses,
  • legumes,
  • whole-grain rice and pasta,
  • nuts,
  • seeds,
  • vegetables and fruits

If you are struggling to eat enough fibre, taking a fibre supplement can help you reach the recommended fibre intake. Speak to your wellness coach or doctor about the Fibre supplement options available to you.

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Essential Nutrients - Fats

Healthy Fats

Although fat got a hammering in the carb-crazy ‘90s. Healthy fats have finally been vindicated and are now seen as very important to a healthy diet. Healthy fat has numerous functions that fit perfectly into our daily healthy active lifestyles. It helps to maintain our brains and nervous system, helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, adds wonderful healthy flavour to foods, while also keeping our eyes, skin, bones and nails healthy.

Fat comes in two main forms: unsaturated and saturated fat. Unsaturated fats are oils — the kind that are fluid at room temperature (such as olive oil). Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (think dollop of coconut oil). You need both kinds of oil in your diet, but the majority should come from unsaturated fats. The current recommendation is that you get about 25 percent-35 percent of your daily calories from fat. We at wellnesscoach.ie work off 30% and you can get your calculation from our macro calculator. Please note that no more than 10% of these should come from saturated fat.

Healthy fats come from:

  • Fish and fish oils
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Avocado (personal favourite)

 

Avoid and keep fat down:

Avoid fried foods

Bake, roast, boil or steam your food

Go easy on sauces, gravies, salad dressings, mayonnaise, butter and margarine

Try low or non-fat versions of foods (e.g. milk, yogurt, spreads, salad dressings and snack foods)

 

Incorporate healthy fats into your diet:

Have oily fish 2-3 times per week

Add a handful of nuts or some avocado to a salad

Use olive oil sparingly and high quality coconut oil for cooking.

 

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Essential Nutrients - Vitamins & Minerals

 

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals or micronutrients support overall good health, vitality and healthy weight management. They are essential for the body’s normal growth and development. Even minor deficiencies in some of these power houses can cause damage. Poor eating choices and hectic lifestyles may mean you need to supplement your daily intake with vitamins and minerals to reach your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).

Vitamins help us get energy from food and enable growth and repair of skin, bone and muscle.

There are up to 17 minerals that we absolutely need such as, calcium, iron and magnesium because the body cannot make them. This is why it is so important to include varied and balanced meals as part of your daily eating choices.

If you find it hard to get the balance right, speak to your wellness coach about the vitamin and mineral supplement options available to you.

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Nutrition Basics

Watch this video to learn more about the basics of nutrition. The foundation of nutrition basics includes learning about micro and macro-nutrients. In today's age of processed food it is possible to eat a lot of calories with very poor micro-nutrients.
This video will break down the essentials of micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients and how you can use them to help customize your diet.

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