Nutrition: Quantity vs. Quality?

What came first? The chicken or the egg? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Eggs and chicken are both yummy, and that’s good enough for me. You get my point. The quality vs. quantity rose to fame in the last few years. Up until recently, the focus has been on quantity: how many calories did you eat vs. how many you burned. When fitness gurus started preaching quality over quantity, things swung the other way. People assumed that if it was good quality, they could eat as much as they wanted. The paleo diet took the world by storm, and many people consumed insane amounts of fat and protein far exceeding any recommended daily calorie intake. Then the paleo treats came along, and people ate paleo muffins, cookies, and cakes like there was no tomorrow. Not long after macros became a popular topic, people were allotted a certain amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat every day. The focus was getting the proper amount without much attention to quality. There are a couple dozen more popular diets that were in-between. This has lead to a lot of confusion for the every day person trying to figure out what really matters. Let me help clear things up.

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Quantity

Knowing how much you eat can be very useful information. Our bodies have a certain amount of calories they need every day just to keep us alive. There are specific tools and calculators that can give you a ball park number of what your BMR (basil metabolic rate) is. Mine usually comes out to about 1500. This is not counting exercise or any other activity included in the day. This is just what my body needs to survive in its current state. It is important that I get enough food.

In the world of dieting, many people are undereating, and in the long term, this can cause metabolic damage. The body thinks you’re starving, and slows the metabolism down to conserve energy. On the other hand, many people over-eat. This is not news to us, but many of us don’t know we are the ones over-eating! We think we deserve more food than we actually do. A study done on food diaries found that people underestimate how much they eat by 200-300 calories! This is where macros can be useful. Having people weigh their food can be an eye opening experience, but is not usually sustainable long term.

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Quality

Our bodies are very complicated. Thousands of different chemical processes happen in our body every day. Nutrients are sent throughout the body, providing each organ with what it needs to function at its best. If you don’t give your body what it needs, you are placing it under stress. Eventually this will cause inflammation. Inflammation leads to breakdown of the tissue and chronic disease. We know that certain foods cause inflammation, with sugar being near the top. We also know that food sensitivities cause inflammation, which means that some foods that bother me may not bother you. Before anything else, give your body what it needs. Have a nutrition analysis done of what your currently eating and make sure you are getting the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) your body needs. Let’s say I’m on a 2000 calories a day diet. It may take 1800 calories of veggies, meat and fruit to get me the nutrients I need. This means I have 200 calories left to do with what I want. When I am considering a treat I ask myself “have I given my body what it needs?” I then consider whether that treat is noticeably going to have a negative impact on me. For me, dairy is most often not worth it. It makes me bloated and lethargic. Some potato chips don’t visibly bother me, so I’m more likely to have some of those in order to skip the side effects of the dairy.

Final Thoughts

Most of this is actually very simple if you think about it. We have made food so complicated that most of us don’t even know where to begin. If we look at our body as a machine that we need to run properly for 80-100 years, it may change how we look at food. In a few weeks I will be taking on my first nutrition clients. There will be a limited number of spots open per month for new people to sign up. I want to ensure that each client gets the attention and accountability they need. Followers of this blog will be the first to be offered a chance to sign up. If you enter your email in the box on the right, you will receive an email from me inviting you to enroll before I release it to the public. I hope to help you on your health journey soon!

Eat your veggies!

Charity

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