#bfitnation – Nutrients

The nutrients protein, carbohydrates and fats in food make up the body’s energy sources. Each gram of protein and carbohydrate contain four calories, or units of energy, whereas fat supplies more than twice as much: nine calories per gram.

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Protein is an essential nutrient important for proper growth and development. High-protein foods include red meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products. Some teenage athletes may consider taking protein supplements to help increase their dietary protein consumption and help build muscle and recover from workouts faster.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, that are in starches and sugars, get converted and serves as the body’s main fuel source: the simple sugar glucose. Not all carbs are created the same, however. In planning meals, it is important to have complex-carbohydrate foods and go easy on simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs provide sustained energy; that’s why marathon runners and other athletes eat big bowls of pasta before competing. Starches also contain fiber and assorted nutrients too. Most nutritionists recommend that complex carbohydrates make up 50 to 60 percent of a teenager’s caloric intake. Simple carbs, such as candy, soft drinks, and juice, tempt us with their sweet taste and a short term burst of energy but have little else to offer and should be minimized in the diet.

Complex Carbs List

  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Yams
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Steamed brown rice
  • Steamed wild rice
  • Lentils
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Beans (black, kidney)
  • Corn
  • Strawberries
  • Melon
  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • High-fiber cereal
  • Whole-wheat tortilla
  • Whole-wheat pita bread
  • Whole grains

Dietary Fat

Nutritionists  recommend that fat make up no more than 30 percent of the diet.

Fat supplies energy and helps the body in absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. But these benefits must be considered next to its many adverse effects on health.

The Three Types of Fat

Dietary fat contains varying proportions of monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat. Saturated fat, found in meat and dairy products like beef, pork, lamb, cheese, cream, egg yolks, and coconut oil—is the most cholesterol dense of the three. You want to limit your intake of saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories.

The other 20 percent of daily calories from dietary fat should come equally from the two unsaturated kinds of fat, both of which are contained mainly in plant oils. Corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and sesame-seed oil are mainly polyunsaturated. So are the oils in fish and almonds. Foods high in monounsaturated fat, the healthiest kind, include olives and olive oil; peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter; cashews; walnuts and walnut oils; and canola oil.

Unsaturated Fats

  • Almonds
  • Almond Butter
  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter
  • Vegetable oil.
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Salmon
  • Vegetable oils
  • Flax seeds

If you eat a lot of packaged and processed foods, you should start reading the nutrition facts. You may be surprised to see how much excess fat, sugar, and salt, is in the foods you eat every day. And almost all packaged foods that contain fat are likely to have partially hydrogenated fat,because it has a longer shelf life. The best decision would be to not consume any any processed foods and go for more natural packaged foods that are not altered with so they can last longer.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. A well-rounded diet should have a sufficient amount of all the essential vitamins and minerals.

Two examples of really great meals:

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Beef (protein), Avocado (Unsaturated Fat), Broccoli (Veggie) and Steamed Rice (Complex Carb)

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Grilled Chicken (Protein), Avocado (Unsaturated Fat), Cherry Tomatoes (Veggie)

Written by Sam Zammuto