Ugh, I have a cold this weekend. This is my third cold since October!! What’s up with that? I’m so ready for spring! These tulips my cousin sent me (so nice!) really makes me feel like it’s just around the corner!
Luckily, I’ve been using the downtime this cold has caused me to take to catch up on my 30 Under 30 list!
Number 13 on my list is to finish my ACE certification. ACE stand for American Council on Exercise. I mentioned previously that I obtained my group fitness certification when I was living in Sydney and I used to teach classes there. But when I moved back to the states and started law school, I just didn’t have the time to teach classes and my Australian certification is not valid here. Now that I’m done with school and out in the “real world”, my interest in teaching classes, specifically Zumba has increased and I’m trying to find the time to complete my ACE certification so I am qualified to teach.
So now I’ve been reading on the weekends, during my commute and while sitting on the couch trying to vanquish a cold with tea and ginger ale. I’m about half way through and so far the study materials have been incredibly informative. I recently finished the chapter on nutrition, which I found especially useful. In fact, I decided it was so useful that I should share with you. So please read on to find out more out nutrition.*
We all know that eating is essential to help the body function and eating healthy helps the body function at its peak but here’s the science behind these general principles: the body requires energy to function because on a daily basis, the body naturally expends energy through physical activity (20-30% of the body’s energy), basal metabolism (60-70% of the body’s energy) and dietary-induced thermogenesis (10% of the body’s energy). Basal metabolism refers to the energy required to complete the chemical processes that happen naturally in the body such as protein synthesis, breathing, circulation, etc. Thermogenesis refers to the energy expended naturally as a result of eating, essentially eating food increases energy expenditure. So in order to supply the energy necessary to carry out these expenditure processes and function on a daily basis, a person must consume energy through food.
Energy comes from 4 different sources: Carbohydrates (4 kcal/g of energy), Protein (4 kcal/g), Fat (9 kcal/g) and Alcohol (7 kcal/g). These are called macronutrients. It was surprising to me that alcohol was actually considered a macronutrient, but despite its status as such, it’s not the best energy source because it is nutrient poor. And although both fat and alcohol have high energy contents, they are both calorically dense, which means that it is easier for an individual to exceed his or her energy needs in these categories. Excess consumption of energy is converted to body fat for storage, which we all know is not good and leads to both health problems and negative body image.
So how do we know what to eat in order to get enough energy to fuel the body’s natural energy expenditures but not over-consume so that extra energy is converted to fat? Well, it is recommended that individuals follow the USDA’s My Plate guidelines, which replaced the Food Pyramid guidelines in 2011.
This graphic is easy to follow and shows that most of your caloric intake should come from whole grains, fruits and vegetables with moderate amounts from lean protein and a small amount from dairy.
Of course, this is all well and good but, what about if you want to lose weight? Well, remember the energy that is so necessary for our daily functions that we discussed earlier? If you are trying to lose weight, an energy deficit needs to be created, which is when excess body fat that is stored in the body is burned. To do this, one must consume less energy so the body is forced to then burn its stored energy. Because 1 lb of excess body fat stored in the body equals about 3,500 kcal of energy, to lose 2 lbs per week, a person must burn 1,000 more calories per day than he or she takes in. Likewise, to lose 1 lb per week, a 500 calorie deficit must be created per day (500 kcal.day x 7 days=3,500 kcal or 1 lb of fat). It is recommended that to lose weight at a healthy rate, one should not exceed more than 2 lbs per week of weight loss. Although these numbers can seem daunting, don’t forget that you can help create an energy deficit by:
And if all of this math is making your head hurt, the USDA has conveniently provided us with a SuperTracker website that can help you personalize and track your food intake and your activity level to ensure that you are reaching your personal weight loss goals. Click on the link below OR check out the badge on the right hand side of my blog!
I hope you find this information helpful. I know it really helped me understand the fundamentals behind why healthy eating and calories are so important!
* I am not a registered dietitian and nothing herein should be construed as nutrition or medical advice. Always check with your physician before starting or changing your diet, including eating or eliminating certain foods and restricting calorie intake. All information contained in this article is from ACE Group Fitness Instructor Manual, 2d Ed.