8 Patterns of Wellness — Part 3 of 8: Nutrition

Health & Wellness

In this series, I’m going to share some thoughts about the eight patterns that comprise the eight-week program that is Integre8t Wellness. With these fundamentals in place, you can expect to see enhanced results from your fitness plan. Part 1 discussed breath, and Part 2 focused on hydration.

The third pattern is nutrition. Food provides the energy, macronutrients, micronutrients and building blocks required to keep you healthy and strong. Our modern world has made eating far more complicated than it needs to, and has become a point of confusion for many people. There is no mystery: Eat healthful foods in sensible quantities. Focus on meals that are fresh, colorful, unrefined and free of chemicals and hormones. The ingredient list should be short, you should be able to pronounce each component, and know what they are. Avoid eating chemistry experiments!

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Energy on food labels is described as “calories” (with a small “c”). This is a bit of a misnomer, because our foods contain kilocalories (1 KCAL = 1,000 Calories [with an uppercase “C”]). Those numbers start to look huge on a food label, so the standard is to use the number of “calories.” For example: 100 calories is actually 100 KCAL (or 100,000 Calories). But what really matters is that all Calories contain the same amount of energy, regardless of which macronutrient they come from. When food or supplement products claim to “target” certain types of calories, that is simply a marketing ploy. Ignore it. What they mean is that the product has more Calories from certain macronutrients as opposed to others.

Macronutrients are the energy sources within foods. They are called Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. In their natural states, all of them are essential, so eliminating one (or even worse, two!) will likely undermine your wellness goals. An example of this includes the outright lie started in the 1980s which persists to this day that fat should be avoided. To make fat-free foods palatable, something had to take the place of the removed fat. Those replacements were salt, carbohydrates in the form of refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils. This has led to an epidemic of obesity; heart disease; metabolic disorders; tooth decay; cancer; and mental, emotional and psychological illnesses, as well as the myriad of other cascading risk factors that come with these diseases. Something to consider is that although all of the macronutrients are essential to health, each individual person has varying needs in terms of energy quantity and macronutrient ratios.

A simple macronutrient ratio that is a broad blanket statement is the 40:30:30 principle. Your needs may vary, but this is one of the common default suggestions. Let’s keep the numbers simple. If you eat a 100-calorie snack, look to see if there are 40 calories from carbohydrate, 40 calories from protein, and 30 calories from fat. On the label this will be listed as ~10 grams of carbohydrates, ~10 grams of protein and ~3 grams of fat. Scale this up or down for the total calories you intend to consume. You need carbohydrates for energy and recovery from exercise. You need protein to build muscle and repair or replace other tissues and cells in your body. You need fat to maintain your nervous system and to move fat soluble vitamins throughout your body. Each macronutrient has many other functions, but this is a good short list. Also, try to include all three macronutrients together simultaneously at each meal. All of them help to use the others more efficiently.

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Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals, trace metals and other components of food that are essential to health, but which do not contain energy. They are required for processing the Calories you consume; movement; immune system maintenance; hormone production; and many other processes in your body. Be sure to eat a wide variety of all the food groups: Fruits and vegetables; whole grains and legumes; nuts and seeds; plant and fish oils, as well as natural butter; and proteins. The micronutrients in these natural foods come in the proper ratios to maximize absorption, and they compliment each other to create an ideal nutrition plan.

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.

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