7 things you need to know!
Understanding what you eat to control your body and your weight can seem like a weighty topic. It’s as if the rules governing a good diet differ according to what each of us believes. What doesn’t change, however, are the fundamental needs of our body. Here’s a snapshot of the guiding principles of diet.
Are you familiar with the concept of the energy balance? As you know, to stay alive we need energy from our food. We use this energy in one of two ways: the body burns a minimal amount to maintain its vital functions AND then it uses energy for daily activity (sport, climbing stairs, physical work…). As a result, we say that such and such an activity burns so many calories. If your diet gives you more calories than you need, you put on weight. If you take in less energy than you
need, you lose weight. It’s all down to the energy balance.
Let’s look at the body’s needs in greater detail. Keeping your body fit and healthy, and, for some of you, boosting performance requires you to make careful choices about how much energy your body needs. you need to make choices That doesn’t mean eating anything just to meet a notional target of 2000 calories. The body also needs vitamins and minerals, proteins and carbohydrates… It’s time to discover the seven must-know concepts about nutrition.
A man uses an average of 2,500 calories a day/an amateur sportsman uses between 2,800 and 3000/for a professional athlete this can top 3000 calories.
A woman uses on average 1,900 calories a day/an amateur sportswoman between 2,200 and 2,400/for a professional sportswoman this can top 2,500.
These figures can vary depending on an individual’s metabolism and the type of physical or sporting activity.
Your body is about 60% water. True, we are repeatedly told to drink a minimum of 1.5 litres (6 to 9 glasses) of water a day, but water doesn’t just come from a bottle. Your body needs about 2 litres of water and it gets some of this from food. Fresh fruit and vegetables have a particularly high water content. It’s important to remember that your needs depend on how much water you actually lose (through urine, sweat…). When you take part in sport or it’s hot, you need to drink more. Old people and children are more fragile and need watching to ensure they stay properly hydrated. Mineral water with a low sodium content is best. Avoid sugary drinks.They will make you thirsty
rather than hydrate you.
According to France’s national health and safety agency for food, the environment and work (ANSES), we need to eat 0.8 grammes of protein per kilo (about 0.36 grammes per pound) of body weight per day. That’s 50 to 60 grammes (just under 2 ounces) on average for someone weighing about 65 kg (around 145 pounds). You may need more depending on your level of physical activity.
A portion of 100 grammes (3.5 ounces) of meat contains about 20 grammes (0.7 ounces) of protein. Meat also contains lipids and carbohydrates. You also find animal protein in dairy products, fish and eggs.
Plant proteins are just as vital: soya and tofu are the ideal complete protein for vegetarians. Grains (rice, quinoa…) and pulses (lentils, chick peas, split peas, red beans…) eaten together are a source of complete protein that fully meets the body’s needs. Eaten on their own, they are no substitute for meat.
These, broadly speaking, are fats. Often seen in a bad light, they are essential for the proper functioning of your organism and if you want to stay healthy. You do, however, need to distinguish between good and bad fats.
Saturated fatty acids (bad) are in processed foods such as palm oil. They are used in the food industry and are often a source of bad cholesterol. You find them in many read-made or frozen meals or biscuits… and they should be avoided.
You also find lipids in many foods that are not processed, especially those that are rich in omega 3,6 and 9 and which you should eat every day. This is good fat. Olives (olive oil), avocado, walnuts, almonds…
Lipids should make up around 40% of your daily diet, particularly mono-unsaturated fats.
These are sugars, in the form of fast and slow-acting sugars. They are the source of the energy that our body needs. Unlike proteins and fats, the body manufactures sugars from other nutrients. To meet your body’s needs, it is best to choose foods with a low glycemic index as they do not trigger large insulin peaks and are better for your health in the long term. As a result, you should eat as many fruit and vegetables as you want, as they are also packed with vitamins and water… along with (whole) grains, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chestnuts, lentils, beans…
It’s better to eat fewer carbohydrates with a high glycemic index: biscuits, pasta, bread…
The amount of carbohydrates you should eat varies depending of how much energy you burn.
They are an easy way to take on board the energy you need and reach the correct balance, but they are not the only way.
Thirteen vitamins fall into two distinct groups.
Firstly there are the water-soluble vitamins C and B (B1, B2, B3, also known by its historical name PP as it prevents the disease pellagra, B5, B6, B8, B9 and B12). You find these vitamins in fruit and vegetables with a high water content. They do not contain calories and do not give you energy like carbohydrates, but they play an essential role in regulating your metabolism, the system that converts the fuel in food into energy. Vitamin C and the various Vitamin Bs are not soluble in water and cannot be stored in body tissue. Their impact is short-term.
The second group are the lipo- or fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These are stored in body tissue and, as a result, can be consumed less-often than the first category. They are generally found in lipids (fats, fatty acids… ) in such food as fish, egg, liver or oils…
In general terms, vitamins act as antioxidants that fight against free radicals, which accelerate ageing in tissue.
These are found in water as they come from nature and the earth. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium and chloride are the minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. You need to consume 100 mg a day of them on average. Iron, zinc and copper… These are trace elements that you find in the body and ingest in tiny quantities simply by drinking water.