What's in Your Cart?
I can’t stress enough how a balanced nutrition plan is important. Your plan, how much calories to consume and how to divide your macronutrients, should be made according to your goals and your lifestyle. Proper nutrition will allow you to gain lean muscle mass, cut down your body fat or maintain your current weight. It all starts in your kitchen: look at what you already have, throw away the bad and tempting stuff and head to the grocery store (or my ultimate favorite, the farmer’s market). Make a list of what you need and stick to it!
The three basic components of every diet
Calories: 4 calories per gram.
Protein is mostly associated with building muscle and primarily found in meat, dairy products and plant protein. Its uses go beyond building muscle. We need protein for growth tissue repair, immune function, making essential hormones and enzymes, energy (when carbohydrate is not available), and preserving lean muscle mass.
When consumed, the body breaks down protein into amino acids. There are nine amino acids considered essential since they cannot be produced by the body and must be absorbed through food. The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. You can also find all the essential amino acids in plant-based diet (vegan and vegetarian diets), contrary to popular beliefs.
Calories: 4 calories per gram.
Carbohydrates are primarily found in starchy foods, such as grains, potatoes, and fruits. Other foods like vegetables, beans, and nuts contain carbohydrates, but in lesser quantities. Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. It is broken up into glycogen used by muscles and the liver, and glucose used by the brain.
Carbohydrates can be divided into simple or complex, which refers to their chemical structure: it refers to the length of the carbohydrate molecules. The shorter the molecule chain is, the easier it is for your body to break down. It is then considered simple—essentially they’re sugars. On the other hand, larger molecules are complex because it takes longer for the body to break it down. To feel fuller for a longer period of time, gravitate towards complex sources of carbs like brown rice, sweet potato, and multi grain or quinoa pasta.
Calories: 9 calories per gram.
Fat often gets a bad reputation because it’s the most calorie-dense nutrient out of the 3 macronutrients. However, we need of fat for normal growth and development, energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy), to absorb vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K, to provide protection for the organs, and to maintain cell membranes.
There are three main types of fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and trans fat. Saturated fat and trans fat have been known to increase risks for heart disease. Unsaturated fat found in foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and coconut oil has been shown decrease the risk of developing heart disease. Another essential fat are Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s which can be found in fatty fish, flax, and nuts.
Don’t forget your micronutrients
Our bodies also need to consume plenty of water and micronutrients. Micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, are nutrients that our bodies need in smaller amounts, but they are as important as macronutrients!
How to Calculate Macros
The easiest method to divide up calories to each macro is to use a percentage split. I have to remind you that everybody is different, so what works for one person might not work for you. Allocating your macros is something you can experiment and play with to find the best split for your body type and metabolism. With that in mind, I am going to use the most common split (and a good one if you’re starting out) as an example. 40:40:20: meaning, 40% of your calories allocated to protein, 40% to carbohydrates, and 20% to fats. From there, use the following calculations:
Carbohydrates and Protein
- 40% of your calories are devoted to your carbohydrate and your protein intake.
- 2000 x 0.4 = 800 calories (based on 2000 calories, change the first number according to your calorie intake)
- There are 4 calories/gram of carbs and protein, so the total amount is 200 grams of carbohydrates and 200 grams of protein (800÷4=200).
- Repeat process to calculate Fats.
What’s in my cart?
I also wanted to share so of my go-to foods when I go grocery shopping. It’s important to find healthy alternative you enjoy eating. That way, eating clean won’t be so unbearable and you’ll be able to make it a habit.
- Steal Cut Oat Blend by Rogers
Steel cut oats are considered a power food in my books because they are an excellent source of protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals. Health benefit of oats: decreased heart disease risk, diabetes prevention and controls blood pressure
- Unsweetened Almond Milk by Earth’s Own
I ditched milk (and most milk product) about a year ago mostly because of how much sugar 1 cup of milk has. I’m not lactose intolerant but I found that by cutting milk based products, I am less bloated. I do love cheese and ice cream so I’ll have them from time to time. You can find so many diary free products nowadays it’s incredible! You just have to look and you’ll find them.
- Egg whites
Egg whites are a staple, protein rich food I could not live without! They are always part of my breakfast and there are plenty of ways to cook them deliciously. Find out what I had for breakfast here!
- Nuts ‘n More Peanut Butter
I knew about this product but never actually tried it until 2 months ago. I’m so glad I did! Protein and peanut butter combined are in every fitness/health minded people’s dream. There are tons of flavors and they’re all to die for. If you live in Calgary, you can find this product at any Believe Fit location. You call also find Nuts 'n More products here.
- Mary’s Organic Crackers
I’m a big fan of crackers and cheese (and wine). You can find them in the organic aisle at your local grocery store. They use whole grains and whole foods.
- Kombucha Tea by Yogi
It’s been around for over 2,000 years! Kombucha is known for its health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and many other diseases. It's by far my favorite tea for how good it tastes without any added sweetener.
All you have to do is steam them, and you've got half of your meal ready. Asparagus is a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K. Not only is it loaded with nutrients, it is also packed with antioxidants. One more benefit is that asparagus contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and helps rid the body of excess salts.
Stay tuned for more of my faves! In the mean time, feel free to share, like and comment on my post, request and ask me any questions.