Disclaimers: 1. I am not a nutritionist or trainer. These are all some basics information which i learned by myself with time so remember that there could be more to these concepts since they're quite simplified in my post.
2. There will be parts where i talk numbers in regards to food so if you feel triggered by them skip the post.
Part 1 Food
What is nutrition? Basically it analyzes and tells you what nutrients, vitamins, minerals you need or have too much of.
Another aspect of nutrition is understanding how your body works while taking into consideration the emotional factor.
Nutrition is not a diet or some restriction system. It's understanding what your body needs to function properly. This being said, you don't need to eat fruits and veggies and cut out sweets or salty snacks. Everything in moderation while being mindful about your needs/feelings.
Now, some common used terms in nutrition and some basic information.
Intuitive eating - this means you know to listen to your body when you need food, when you need to stop eating, when you crave certain things etc. Intuitive eaters have a healthy relationship with food.
BMR - Basal metabolic rate; everyone is unique and the amount of food they need is influenced by their lifestyle. BMR is the least amount of calories that an individual needs for his body to function properly. This amount is consumed every day. If you were to stay in bed and not move, this is the amount you'll burn.
Calories - each food has a certain 'value'. Each person is unique so their BMR is influenced by how much they move, how tall they are, their weight, age etc.
Calorie counting - keeping track of calories. Why would you do that? Some people eat less than their BMR and some eat more. Counting calories is used when you want to be aware of how much you eat. Eating too little or too much has side effects over a long period of time.
Macronutrients - these are the "more important" (everything is important in the end) nutrients that your body needs. They are protein, carbohydrates (carbs) and fats. Each amount is decided by a formula (which you can find on Google bc i didn't memorize it) and can be influenced by your fitness goals too. Now, let's take them one by one.
Protein - this one is very important for your muscles. Your muscles need protein to function and to repair themselves. When your muscles are sore, they're ripped and they rebuild themselves by using protein. (They also become stronger once they rebuild) Protein is often found in meat and beans. It is important to mention that protein can't be processed by your body in high quantities. The limit is 20-25g Of protein per meal. This is why is adviced that you eat the amount you need throughout the day and not in 1 meal.
Carbs - usually found in grains (we all love pasta, don't we?) and also fruits. Carbs give you energy. However, in order not to have some energy crash, you should eat carbs with some protein/fats. An example is apples (carbs) and peanut butter (fats).
Fats - usually found in avocados, peanuts, butter. They're responsible with your hormones and try to keep everything balanced.
Everyone has a different amount of macronutrients that they should eat. Keeping track of them can be tiring though so just remember that if your muscles are sore, more protein is needed, carbs is for energy, fats are for hormones. A good way I've seen people track all of them is by dividing the plate in their head and add something from each category. Note, keeping track only of the macros intake can lead to eating less than your BMR in some cases. (Based on your food choices)
Micronutrients - these nutrients are also important but they are rarely focused on. Here you'll find sodium, fiber, sugar etc. They're all very important in the end and any lack/surplus is going to influence you somehow.
Sodium (salt) needs to be paired with potassium when possible. An example: salty crackers and banana. Why do they need to be paired? They're opposite. Sodium makes you retain water while potassium makes sure your body doesn't retain it. Cellulite often appears as a result of high sodium intake so drinking more water and getting potassium will improve that if you are looking for a solution regarding that.
Fiber - helps with the bowel movement. Found in popcorn, bananas etc.
Sugar and cholesterol are usually seen as something bad BUT there are 2 kinds of each. Sugar is found in fruits, onions, even tomatoes. That's good sugar. Processed sugar which is found in processed foods can be harmful and should be consumed in moderation. The same, there's good cholesterol and there's also the not that good one.
Fat free, sugar free products - if a product has on it "(sth) free", it means there's a surplus in another category. Usually a sugar free product has a surplus in fats.
Fasting - going long periods of time without eating, then eating for X hours.
There's no rule to eat 3 meals a day. There's no rule for snacks. You eat as often as you need. If having 3 meals only helps you, go that. If 6-7 smaller meals is your go to, that works. Again, everyone's body and life is different.
Lemon water doesn't cleanse anything. If you drink it for the flavor, good for you but drinking it because fitness gurus say that, nope.
Cravings - the desire to taste something in particular. Sometimes it's the wish to taste pasta bolognese, other times is the weird need to drink milk. Either way, cravings show either a body need (you lack something so you get the craving) or an emotional need.
Emotional eating - eating in order to look for comfort. Some foods make you "safe" when you're anxious, depressed etc.
The last 2, both are valid reasons to eat but again, everything in moderation.
Variety, it's important to have variety in your meals. Try new things every once in a while.
Because emotions control your desire for food, you shouldn't cut out anything. Social media promotes a lot "clean" eating which is usually revolved around the classic healthy foods like veggies, fruits etc. Nutrition is all about healthy eating but taking into consideration your feelings too. So if you want a hamburger, chocolate or both on a particular day, you can get it. As long as you know how much to eat and not eat until you feel pain, that's alright.
Intuitive eaters tend to automatically find what they need to eat if they lack in something. Had too little iron, protein, fats etc? They'll crave Y or Z in order to get what they need. This means you need to pay attention to how you feel constantly and how certain foods make you react.
Last note about this, eat what you enjoy. You hate salad? Then eat something else. If you don't like beans, try lentils. No broccoli? What about cabbage? Eating what you enjoy and what feels right for your body is what matters.
I also promised that I'll make a part about eating on a budget so some tips for that:
Choose fruits and veggies that are in the season. They're cheaper.
Classic veggies and fruits which are always cheap: apples, potatoes, onions, carrots, cans of veggies, frozen veggies/fruits.
Forget what you see on instagram. Quinoa might look fancy, but if your budged says rice, get rice.
Look at the entire aisle before deciding. Marketing places at eye level the products which are the more expensive kind. Look around a bit.
Meal prep can save you time, energy and money but try not to make too much food or it will have a weird taste. Try at every 2-3days?
Part 2 Fitness
You don't need to workout. Now that i got your attention, walking is enough to keep you in shape. Especially if it's a brisk walk. (Basically you walk a bit faster)
Fitness, working out, whatever you want to call it shouldn't make you feel like it's a chore. How not to make it feel like that? Experiment and see what you enjoy doing.
Some suggestions: aerobics (i personally like Eva fitness from youtube, i feel like a dancing magikarp *splash splash*), shadow boxing, badminton, yoga, pilates, any martial arts tutorial that you fancy etc.
Youtube has many tutorials for beginners so you can learn ninjutsu for all that i care, as long as you enjoy it, that's the important part!
Oh, another thing, whatever reason you have for getting in shape, make sure it's your decision. You want abs? Aesthetic reasons are fine. You want to test your limits? Go for it. Wanna be strong/flexible/whatever? YES!
If you feel pressured by society or anything/anyone else, don't. You try to build better habits for yourself. You might end up hating whatever you choose to do if the reason is not chosen by you.
Posture is important. Whatever exercises you do, posture makes sure you don't get hurt. Even if you're slow, do the exercises correctly. You'll get speed with time.
Start slowly. Do 5min for a while, then 10, 15 etc you'll be able to do more after a while.
Don't have high expectations but have a goal. Having a goal/reason will make you keep going. Having expectations is bad for you when they don't become reality so don't expect to be a full athlete after 2 workouts.
Running is a form of advanced cardio. If you're a beginner, start with something else.
Cardio vs weights - cardio keeps your body shape but it makes you smaller. Lifting weights makes you toned. However, body weight exercises which focus on strength usually, have the same result, just takes more time.
You cannot burn fat in a particular place only. You lose it everywhere. When an exercise is for abs, arms etc. it means it will work the muscles there. The human body isn't designed to burn fat only where you want.
There are various types of yoga. Some are mild, some make you feel like a piece of paper in the middle of an origami tutorial.
You don't need to work out every day. Apparently 10-20min 2-3 times a week it's enough.
If you're sore that means your muscles are rebuilding to be stronger. However, depending on the level of soreness, you can decide if you rest or not. Even if a program for workout has a day by day program, when your pain/soreness is too much, take a break. A little soreness is alright though. It goes away after a few minutes of working out.
This brings me go the next topic, warm up before your workouts/physical activities. Don't stretch. There's a difference between stretching and warming up. Stretching has been noticed in studies to harm. Warming up is usually circular motions like rotating your hips, neck, shoulders, arms etc. This is less stressful for your body than stretching.
Part 3 Conclusion
You don't need to do anything from what I said here. However, i think it's important to know basics from various fields. The purpose of this post is educational.
I also suggest for those who would like to apply the knowledge from this post to go ahead and learn even more. Which foods have what or what benefits/harm can too much of 1 thing have etc.
Nutrition works with numbers which can lead to obsessive behaviors. It's important to remember the human body doesn't really work on a 24h system. You can eat more today, less tomorrow etc. The average of these days is the end result for both, nutrition and workouts because there might also be those who will workout out excessively.
Nutrition can be something intuitive but if you think you need the help of a specialist because you feel something is not alright or you have a specific medical condition go and contact one.
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