Moderation, balance important to dieting
With over 69 percent of American adults overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it's no surprise that there are a lot of people talking about nutrition. Unfortunately, not all the advice that gets thrown around is good advice.
It's easy to get confused about what we should be eating when the media seems to contradict itself every day, or when the guy in the gym who believes steroids is one of the main food groups spouts unfounded nonsense in between his sets.
Luckily, government committees and sports medicine organizations offer information based upon sound science that can help us form solid nutrition plans.
The American College of Sports Medicine, the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, and the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition offer recommendations regarding the amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat for healthy individuals to eat.
Protein is arguably the most misunderstood macronutrient, and we don't need as much of it as we've probably been led to believe. According to ACSM recommendations, protein should make up 15-20 percent of our diets, and the RDA is set at 0.8-1.0g/kg of body weight/day. It's recommended that endurance and strength athletes consume 1.2-1.4g/kg/day and 1.6-1.7g/kg/day respectively.
Understanding that there are 2.2 pounds in 1 kg, these recommendations make it easy to set protein intake goals that will efficiently increase performance.
The ACSM also recommends that our diets be made up of approximately 50-60 percent carbohydrate and 20-30 percent fat.
While that may seem like a substantial amount of carbohydrate, remember that carbohydrate is the body's preferred energy source.
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates don't make us fat. Rather, not adequately controlling how much we eat all together leads to increases in fat storage.
"Weight loss is achieved when calories consumed are less than calories expended," states the National Academy of Sports Medicine, one of the most respected personal trainer certifying agencies.
On the other hand, when calories consumed exceed calories expended, we gain muscle or fat weight depending on training regimens.
Registered dieticians and calorie expenditure formulas can help calculate how many calories we should aim to eat each day to achieve our goals. Mayo Clinic provides a helpful calculator to estimate daily caloric needs on their website.
"Nutrition isn't about what foods are 'good' or 'bad,'" says Megan Earls, nutrition major at ETSU. "Nutrition is about moderation and balance."
While a lot of fad diets omit entire food groups in the name of quickly dropping weight, this can sometimes be unsafe and inefficient.
Hammering out a nutrition plan that is more concerned with macronutrient ratios and total caloric intake than banning specific foods can lead to better results.
Before making a change in dietary habits, however, one should always consult his or her physician.
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