January – Day 14/31

The difference between nutrient dense and nutrient “empty” foods.

I’m pretty sure you will have heard somewhere down the line someone say something along the lines of “You’re just eating empty calories” but do you know what they actually meant by it? Did they know what they meant?

All foods contain marco-nutrients which we spoke about in Day 6 – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, in varying proportions. Not all foods contain micro-nutrients.

A micro-nutrient is a chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms. Think vitamins and minerals.

Generally speaking we, as humans, cannot produce vitamins and minerals and so we must obtain them from plant and animal sources. When you eat you consume the vitamins that plants and animals have created and minerals they have absorbed. The micro-nutrient content of each food is different. By eating a variety of foods you are increasing the number of different micro-nutrients available to your body.

So, this should give you a good idea of where we are going with what is considered nutrient dense and what is not….

Let’s start with nutrient dense foods – non-processed plant and animal products/food stuffs in their more natural state. Think organic fruit and veg, fresh butchered meats, fresh fish, whole grains, pulses and legumes and so on.

The “empty” calorie, low nutrient density foods are things that are highly processed and very refined. Think white sugar and bread, highly processed foods, long-life foods etc. Fast food, junk food and so on. They are generally high calorie foods.

Why is this important?

Your body needs a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in order to function properly, here’s a list of just some of them and what they do:

By eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods (like the ones listed above) you create satiety – feeling well fed, not lacking in anything. IF you are eating a whole load of empty food you are taking in all the calories without giving the body what it actually needs, you get hungry again because the body is trying to get what it needs and then you are over-eating and putting on weight, not to mention the risks of feeling wick because your body hasn’t got the fuel it needs to function correctly.

This is why we have the 80:20 rule. By eating well 80% of the time you will more than likely be hitting all of the macro and micro-nutrient needs of your body. Giving you 20% of you calories to the stuff you like; the “empty” calories, or the shit that we all enjoy basically.

January – Day 7/31

We’re on to day 7 and I want to know one thing; ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH?

Enough fibre that is! Today is all about why fibre is important and making sure that you get your daily quota!

Dietary fibre has a number of benefits when consumed in sufficient quantities including the prevention or relief of constipation, helping maintain a healthy weight, and lowering risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

You’ve probably heard of dietary fibre being referred to as roughage. It includes the parts of plant foods which the body can’t digest or absorb – fibre isn’t digested by the body, instead it passes pretty much intact through the digestive system and out of the body.

There are two types of fibre:

Soluble – dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. Soluble fibre can assist in lowering blood cholesterol and glucose levels and is found in oats, peas, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, apples, barley and psyllium.

Insoluble – promotes the movement of material through the digestive system and increase stool bulk. Insoluble fibre can be beneficial to those who struggle with irregular stools or constipation. Good sources of insoluble fibre are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables.such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.

To ensure you receive the greatest health benefits, you should aim to eat a wide variety of high-fibre foods.

How much fibre do you need?

How much fibre we need varies depending on age and gender:

Men age 50 years or younger require 38 grams of fibre per day whereas those aged 51 or older are advised to consume 30 grams per day.

For women, it’s 25 grams for those aged 50 years or under, and for those aged 51 and over the recommended amount of fibre is 21 grams per day.

How can you get the required amount of fibre each day?

  • Start your day right – grab a bowl of high-fibre cereal (5 grams + per serving). Look for those with “whole grain”, “bran”, or “fibre” in the name. Alternatively you can add two or three table spoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favourite cereal.
  • Chose whole grains – Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another grain as the first ingredient and have at least 2g of dietary fibre per serving. Try things like brown rice, wild rice, whole-wheat pasta and bulgar wheat.
  • Get in the beans – legumes – beans, peas and lentils, are great sources of fibre. Add mixed beans to salads, kidney beans to mince meals etc.
  • Snack on fruit and veg – aim for five or more serving of fruit and vegetables per day, eating the skin too where possible. Not only will you bump up your fibre intake but you’ll get a load of vitamins and minerals in too.

Note: Though high-fibre foods are great for your health, adding too much too quickly can produce some negative effects including intestinal gas, bloating and cramping. To avoid this, increase fibre gradually over a few weeks.

And to round it all off and take us back to day one – make sure you are drinking plenty water. Fibre works best when it absorbs water, making your poo soft and bulky. Oh, and you can track your fibre on MyFitnessPal too without having to add it all up yourself!

So there you go, a whole post on how to poo better. You’re welcome!