Introduction to Nutrition and Understanding Labels

introduction to nutrition

What is nutrition? According to Merriam-Webster it is “the act or process of nourishing or being nourished”. If we look further into the word “nourish” we see that it is defined as “to promote the growth of”. That’s where this introduction to nutrition comes in.

Introduction to Nutrition

From this point onward, I want you to think of food as nourishment that allows you to promote growth of your body. That growth may be increase in muscle mass, decrease in body fat, or any forward-progressing goal you may have.

Let’s dive a little deeper. Nutrition can be divided into what is known as macronutrients and micronutrients. The macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and water. Each of these six nutrients plays a vital role in the primary functions of the human body.

If you’ve ever heard that you must eat less fat to lose fat, stop right there. This is entirely false. (Unless, of course, you’re the kind of person that eats bacon and cheeseburgers left and right). Even if that were the case though, it isn’t simply the reduction of fat intake that helps you lose weight, it’s really the reduction in calories.

That being said let’s look at the 80/20 rule I mentioned earlier. The overgeneralized statistic in fitness says that 80 percent of progress is diet and 20 percent is exercise. This is primarily since eating 100 calories less is a much simpler process than burning an extra 100 calories. To put it in perspective, 5 Starburst candies are around 100 calories. You would need to run approximately 1 mile to burn that same amount. So next time you’re reaching for those candies (or any food for that matter) just be aware of how it is impacting your body.

We’ll review macronutrients, micronutrients, and calorie essentials later. This brief introduction to Nutrition has at least provided you with the perspective that I have found to be the most beneficial when it comes to achieving results that last.

Understanding Nutrition Facts Labels

The FDA outlines very specific requirements on what Nutrition labels say and how they look. In fact, they have a 132-page document that defines all rules and regulations!

If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration went through all that effort to make sure we have clearly defined and consistent labels to look at, we should be aware of how to use them for our benefit.

Serving Size

This is the recommended serving size of the food item. Everything on this label corresponds to the amount of food measured in that serving. In this case 2/3 cups or 55g.

Calories per Serving

This is the number of calories in each serving of the specified food. This should be the first number that catches your eye when you look at a nutrition label.

Macronutrients

These show the amount of Fat, Carbohydrate, and Protein in the food item. See more detail in the Macronutrients section of this guide on how much you should consume of each.

Micronutrients

These are all the vitamins and minerals that are included in this food item.

If you’re interested in learning more you may want to check out our Nutrition Guide and Daily Meal Plan.

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