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What’s the most important factor in nutrition?

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on August 15, 2016

nutrition

Nutrition and the order of importance – By Miss K

In today’s day and age, understanding the basics of health and nutrition can be more confusing than ever. Yes, it’s great to have access to unlimited information. The problem is there is a lot of incorrect information and false advertising out there, as well as heavy emphasis on insignificant details before even addressing the basics.  In this article I am going to outline in order of importance what you need to know about the basics of nutrition in relation to body composition.

The below diagram is a pyramid of nutrition, with order of importance from bottom to top. It is important to make sure you address the bottom of the pyramid before worrying about each level above it. A lot of people become concerned with the middle level or top levels before even addressing the bottom level. Depending on how serious you would like to be with your nutrition will determine how many levels you keep track of. As an average person who is concerned about your health you may want to focus on the bottom 1,2 or 3 levels where as an athlete will want to focus on all levels to maximise body composition and performance.

5.SUPPLEMENTS

4.FREQUENCY / TIMING

3.MICRONUTRIENTS

2.MACRONUTRIENTS

1.CALORIES

  1. CALORIES (energy input)

This is what should be focused on first before even thinking about any of the other levels of the pyramid. How many calories you should be eating is going to be based in general around your bodyweight. Of course, individual metabolism and your activity level will also be a factor here. Once you can find your maintenance level (either through trial and error or through using an online calorie maintenance calculator), you need to decide what your goal is with your nutrition.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight you will need to take away approximately 500 calories from your maintenance level. This is the approximate intake of calories you should aim for each day to be losing a healthy amount of weight consistently week by week.

  1. MACRONUTRIENTS (protein, carbohydrates and fats)

*GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SPLITTING UP YOUR CALORIES

Protein 0.8g-1.4g per pound of bodyweight

Fats 0.4g per pound of bodyweight

Carbohydrates fill in the rest, with carbohydrates depending on what your metabolism will allow

What you need to focus on here with your macronutrients is taking in adequate protein and fats as these are essential. Carbohydrates, while non essential are certainly beneficial, but the amount you should consume will differ between individuals depending on metabolic rate as well as activity level, to just name a few.

  1. MICRONUTRIENTS (vitamins and minerals)

This third level of the pyramid relates to vitamins and minerals, which are very important for optimal body functioning. The easiest way to ensure adequate intake of these is through eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, with a particular focus on green vegetables.

*GENERAL GUIDELINES BASED ON CALORIE INTAKE

1000-2000 calories – 2 serves of fruit and 2 of vegetables per day

2000-3000 calories – 3 serves of fruit and 3 of vegetables per day

3000-4000 calories – 4 serves of fruit and 4 of vegetables per day

  1. FREQUENCY AND TIMING OF EATING

While it has been shown through many studies that meal timing and frequency of eating is not as important as we once thought it was in relation to weight loss, it can still play a role in other ways relating to hunger levels and consistency with a diet as well as with exercise performance and recovery. The general recommendation would be splitting up your intake to 3-6 meals per day. That is not to say that outside these numbers is wrong, but for most people 3-6 meals should work best. If you were going to focus on timing at all, I would recommend just ensuring proper nutrition before and after exercise to maximise performance and recovery between workouts.

  1. SUPPLEMENTS

Finally we have reached the least important level of the pyramid, which is often mistaken by many as the most important thing that will help them reach their goals. Supplements should be thought of as that final 5-10% touch for those that have addressed all other levels of the pyramid already. Quite often people will focus on supplements without even looking at level 1,2,3 or 4 first which means they are going to be left disappointed. Do not let marketing fool you as far as supplements are concerned as they really do make a minimal difference and should only be used by those who have their diet already in order.

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