Introduction to Food Science and Nutrition, For Your Own Health
Food science is the study of the physical and chemical makeup of all things food-related. It’s a field of study that involves multiple disciplines. As someone who has experienced deficiencies and issues with my diet, this field has been a large part of my research.
Calories are a big part of food science and nutrition. Remembering back to my elementary school days, I attended a talk from a professor and I asked her multiple times if calories were good or bad. To me, I didn’t know if calories were a good thing and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Many of you may be the same as me and maybe confused about how to understand what people eat.
The definitive answer is that calories are a unit of energy. A kcal (calorie that we refer to) is the amount of energy required to raise 1kg of water by 1º C.
People are always tricked into believing fad diets and other weight-loss scams. 3,500 un-burned calories become 1 pound of fat. Everybody burns calories throughout the day to sustain their bodies, but if you eat an excess of what you burn, you will gain weight. On the other hand, if you are at a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. Specifically, if you eat at a deficit of 3,500 per week, you will lose 1 pound a week.
Proteins simply put are linked chains of amino acids. Protein is responsible for certain body parts, like your skin, hair and muscle fibers, as well as a key component of your immune system. Most protein is stored in your muscles, and are building blocks for other parts of your body.
Protein is the one macronutrient bodybuilders and other fitness experts focus on. If you can, getting 1g of protein per pound that you weigh should be sufficient daily. This amount is required to allow your body to recover from workouts, and build muscle. If you find this hard, it’s because it is. To ensure you’re eating enough protein, protein shakes offer a quick protein fix without too much work.
Examples of food that contain high protein include chicken breast, seafood, milk, and dairy products. Make sure you watch out for high amounts of fat and carbs with the proteins. A common mistake is getting the required protein per day, but going over on calories, so if you’re looking to stay slim, it will make you end up gaining weight. Protein that doesn’t contain as many carbs and fat will allow you to meet your protein goals without compromising your calorie count.
Same Amount of Lean Protein > Fatty Protein
Carbohydrates can be remembered as the providers of energy for mental and physical activity. Without carbs in some form, your body would not function with as much energy.
There are simple and complex carbohydrates, and you should always try to eat more complex carbohydrates. The benefit is that they leave you feeling more full, and don’t lead to blood sugar spikes since it takes longer for complex carbs to break down. Complex carbs are also full of minerals and fiber, which have benefits to your body in other ways.
Complex carb examples include fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and whole-grain products. Simple sugars are generally sweet, or processed, such as candy and sweetened soft drinks.
Complex Carbs Good → Simple Carbs Not As Good
Many articles talk about cutting fat from your diet, but this is a terrible misconception. Fats are also called lipids and come in 3 main ways.
Some fats are better for you, and fats that are worse for you.
Unsaturated fats are needed by the human body to regulate metabolism and maintain cell membranes. Not only does it help in this way, but it also improves blood flow and cell growth. Cutting fat completely out of your diet is terrible for your health and will likely cause you issues in the future.
Fats are not as important for building muscle and are more useful to maintain your body health. With this in mind, fats should only make up 30–35% of your daily calories.
High fat-content foods include avocado, cheese, dark chocolate, and nuts. These foods are high in nutrition and good fats that will help you reach your daily limits.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Foods contain macronutrients, and also provide other useful molecules important for health. Your body doesn’t need as many micronutrients compared to macronutrients, which gives them the distinction.
There’s no need to stress the importance of vitamins, as many of us already know of their benefits. The more you know, however, allows you to understand what your body is doing with these nutrients and it will help control your diet.
Not having enough vitamins and minerals would be detrimental to your health, and you must always make sure that your body has a healthy supply. Personally, the easiest source of micronutrients comes from vegetables and fruits. If you find that it’s hard to get the required amount, multi-vitamins and micronutrient supplements can be helpful.
Vitamin Bs and Vitamin C are in this category. As these nutrients are soluble and can be dissolved in water, they are not stored in your body.
Vitamin A: Good for organ function and vision. The best foods for vitamin A are orange and yellow vegetables/fruits. Carrots and broccoli are great examples.
Vitamin D: Bone strength, and maintaining a good immune system. People in North America lack this due to lack of exposure to the sun, and it is important to ensure you get enough vitamin D. Fish, and some dairy products may be good sources of this vitamin.
Vitamin E: Immune system benefits, as well as antioxidant functions. Vegetable oils, nuts, and leafy green vegetables are high in vitamin E.
Vitamin K: Bone development and blood clotting. Green leafy vegetables and fish are great sources of this vitamin.
Calcium: Bone and teeth structure. Best sources from dairy products, and leafy greens.
Magnesium: Assists with enzyme reactions, and regulates blood pressure. Best sources from nuts.
Iron: Helps transfer oxygen to muscles and creates certain hormones. Best sources from spinach, and white beans.
Zinc: Maintains immune system health, and helps with wound healing. Best sources from chick peas, and certain seafood.
Minerals and vitamins can have antioxidant effects, which protect against cell damage. Not having enough may lead to complicated issues for your health too. Lack of vitamins A and C have been linked to some types of cancer.
Many people forget about the importance of health and spend more time focusing on their businesses. Health is the one thing you cannot buy, and not keeping your body in optimal shape is abuse. With the same emphasis, you place on building your business, make sure you continuously build your body. For those workaholics out there, what would you do if a business segment of yours is failing? Failing to know the basics of your body, and how to maintain its health would be like letting your business segment fail.
Be mindful of your macronutrient ratio, and understand that the best ratio is the one that you can consistently stick to. Fad diets and yo-yo diets are not useful in the long run for losing weight, and in order to reach your body goals, you must be consistent.
Not getting enough macro and micronutrients is dangerous, but having too much is toxic too. Stick to recommended limits, and always be mindful of what you’re eating. A balanced diet is the best way to get an adequate amount of micronutrients.