There are 3 Macronutrients: Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates.
Fats — (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated). Fats allow you to absorb vitamins and nutrients, and are absolutely essential for normal function. The brain is primarily fat… so you need fat!
Proteins — the building block for your biological structures, such as muscles and connective tissue like tendons and ligaments. Proteins build, maintain, and repair your body.
Carbs – Several types of sugars, starches, and dietary fiber. All carbs break down into simple sugars in the body. Carbs can be complex or simple, and are a universal energy source.
All 3 macronutrients are absolutely essential to not just normal activity levels, but particularly for peak athletic performance. In addition, all 3 macronutrients should be present every single time you eat.
In other words, every time you eat, whether it’s a meal or a snack, you should have equal amounts of fats, proteins, and carbs. 33% fat, 33% protein, and 33% carbs. The more active you or your child are, you can ramp up the carbs, up to 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% carbs.
Fats should be predominantly monounsaturated – and don’t be afraid of fat! Your body and your brain need fat, so don’t skimp. Protein should be lean and varied in source (meats and eggs are perfect). Carbohydrates should be predominantly complex and low-glycemic (slower burning) – and be careful here! Unless you’re pretty active and/or crossfitting for hours a day, you need far less carbs than you think.
What should I eat?
We look at food as both fuel, and medicine. All food is either healing, neutral, or harmful. We try to emphasize healing foods while limiting harmful foods. In plain language, base your diet on lean meats (protein and fat!), garden vegetables (some carbs and fiber, but lots of vitamins and minerals), nuts and seeds (wonderful fat!), a little starch and no sugar. That’s about as simple as we can get. Some good rules of thumb are:
-shop around the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles. This is a great way to keep your food whole and fresh, rather than processed with long shelf lives.
-if it wasn’t food 100 years ago, don’t eat it. If the ingredient listing is too long, full of unprouncable names, or even more than 5 items long, don’t eat it.
What Foods should I avoid?
For starters, avoid AT ALL COSTS refined and/or processed carbs. Obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and psychological dysfunction have all been scientifically linked to a diet too high in refined or processed carbohydrates. Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in nutritionally caused health problems. High glycemic carbohydrates are those that raise blood sugar too rapidly. They include bread, potatoes, rice, most grains, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar.
Give me an example of a bad breakfast:
Taking the long-established definition of ‘healthy’ food as “low fat, whole grain”, lets look at a sample breakfast that most healthcare professional would tell you is healthy.
1/4 cup Oatmeal
¼ cup blueberries
2 slices whole wheat toast w/1tbsp margarine.
1 cup Orange juice.
Sounds pretty healthy, right? Whole grain, low fat, several sources of fresh fruit, nothing processed, and certainly no donuts… sheesh, whats the problem? The problem is that its all carbs. And while there are differences in carbs, from simple carbs and complex carbs, high glycemic carbs and low glycemic carbs… the body breaks it all down into the same — sugar. The breakfast is all sugar!
Here is what I mean:
1/4 cup Oatmeal (3g fat, 6.5g protein, 26g carbs)
¼ cup blueberries (0g fat, .25g protein, 5.25g carbs
2 slices whole wheat toast. (2g fat, 8g protein, 26g carbs)
w/1oz ‘butter replacement’ (0g fat, 1g protein, 25g carbs)
1 banana (0g fat, 1g protein, 31g carbs)
12 fl oz Orange juice. (0g fat, 0g protein, 170g carbs)
Total: 5g fat, 16.75g protein, 283.75g carbs. Wow!
Now, what happens when you eat a breakfast like that? When you take in a lot of sugar and that sugar ends up in the blood stream, you end up with high blood sugar levels. The body’s response to bring down that blood sugar level is for the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is a hormone that stabilizes blood sugar, right? Well, blood sugar stabilization isn’t insulins primary job. The primary purpose of insulin is fat storage. So while insulin is lowering blood sugar, it is taking that blood sugar to the cells to be stored as energy… otherwise known as fat. That’s how it lowers blood sugar – by taking the sugar away to be stored as fat. The more sugar you take in, the more insulin released, and the more fat stored.
Over time, the body’s response to sugar becomes a bit acclimated. Its used to getting all that sugar, and it needs more insulin to have a similar response. (Hyperglycemia, then Hyperinsulineamia) Much like a junkie requires more and more of a drug to have the same high, the body requires more and more insulin to stabilize blood sugar. Oftentimes, this insulin resistance is undetected, and even though they’re getting sicker and fatter, the doctor is telling them to “eat right, avoid fats”, and so on. Sounds logical, yes?
The problem is that when the food manufacturer removes the fat from a product, it tastes like garbage. So for them to sell the product and stay in business, they have to make it taste better – and they fill it full of sugar. This is why whenever you see “low fat” on a food label, if you read the nutritional factors and the ingredient listing, you’ll find more carbohydrates and more sugars than the normal, non low-fat version. The consumer sees ‘low fat’ on the label and thinks they’re eating healthy, but in fact they’re eating the very thing that is making them fatter and sicker.
Finally, as a result of YEARS of chronic low fat (high carb!) eating, the body has become so insulin resistant that it can’t produce enough insulin to stabilize blood sugar levels, and you have a type 2 diabetic.
Give me an example of a good breakfast:
On the other hand, a good breakfast that is easy, fast, healthy, filling, that promotes long-term energy and stable blood-sugar,
–4 eggs, with yolks (the whites are your protein, the yolks are your fat and cholesterol – which you need!)
–4 sausage links (or bacon, or whatever. Some kind of meat for more protein and more fat, and a little carbs)
–1 ½ to 2 cup seasonal veggies. Whatever you have in the garden, whatever you feel like, and however you feel like whipping it up. A simple salad, a stir-fry, cut into dipping sticks, whatever. Have fun with it, experiment with herbs, spices, cooking methods, etc… (veggies are Gods cleansers, full of fiber along with vitamins and minerals. They’re low caloric energy, but very necessary. Eat a ton!)
— 1 banana, or apple, or pear, or whatever. This is primarily for carbs, but fruit is also nature’s dessert. It satisfies a sweet craving, and can be paired with some kind of fat like a nut butter for a great snack.
Ok, so what are the nutritional factors for the above?
–4 eggs (28g fat, 24 g protein, 0g carbs)
–3 sausage links (14g fat, 10g protein, 1g carbs)
–1.5 -2 cup seasonal veggies ( 0g fat, 1 g protein, 10g carbs)
–1 banana (0g fat, 1g protein, 31g carbs)
Total: 42g fat, 36g protein, 41g carbs
See how that’s a nice, even mix of the 3 macronutrients? Its easy, inexpensive, filling, and truly healthy. Meals like this provide more complete nutrition and long term energy for you and/or your athlete, so they can focus on developing their skills and increasing their abilities.