Nutrition is a curious subject. Put diet in as the sole search criteria in Google and you will realize 467,000,000 results in less than 1 second! Considering that our current population in the United States is 318.9 million, diet is on a LOT of people’s minds! Monthly magazines tout the latest and greatest diet trend. Talk show hosts preach to us about what we should be eating and what we should be avoiding. It’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves fumbling over what foods we should or should not eat. So let’s not go there. Instead, let me share with you some consistent basics of nutrition that you can choose to simply read or carry forward in some fashion of implementation on your own. My intent is really to get some dialogue going between you and your trainers at BodyBasics.
In order to get us moving in a usable direction I think it’s important first to understand a few things about why we need to eat in the first place. Our bodies are energy consuming machines. Did you know that approximately 70% of the energy we expend each day goes toward non-movement related physiological activity? Simply keeping us alive is hard work! What is non-movement related physiological activity? Here’s the crazy part. We’re only talking about breathing, digesting food, and all of the countless chemical reactions your body participates in every day to keep you alive and well. All of this by the way is while you are lying down. As soon as you stand up and start moving your energy need is increased. Here I want to stop you and ask you to consider if you are eating enough. Most people I talk to especially those seeking to manage their weight or lose some of it are not.
Forget calories for the moment and instead try this definition of good nutrition on for size. Let’s look at 5 important criteria that all good nutrition plans must meet.
- Good nutrition properly controls energy balance
- Good nutrition provides nutrient density
- Good nutrition achieves health, body composition, and performance goals
- Good nutrition is honest and outcome-based
- Good nutrition is sustainable for both us and the planet
Let’s now take the rest of the time and discuss the first one in more detail. I will continue with 2 through 5 in the coming months.
1) Good nutrition properly controls energy balance
Energy balance is a valuable component of good nutrition because it represents the relationship between energy coming into the body through our food and drink choices and the energy going out via calories used in the body for our daily energy requirements. Remember that around 70% of our daily intake goes toward non-movement related physiological activity right? Here’s why that is so important. Understand that our ability to balance energy levels does influence when we gain, lose, or keep the same body weight. But it also determines whether our cells are thriving or waning. Remember from your human biology class way back that we are simply an organism made up of trillions of different cells. At a basic level our function simply depends on the health of all of these cells. If we overfeed (and/or under-exercise) weight gain is the most obvious consequence, but health and cellular fitness suffer too: plaques can build up in our arteries; blood pressure and cholesterol can increase; we can become insulin resistant and begin to suffer from diabetes; our risk for certain cancers increases, and the list could go on.
On the other hand if our energy balance is tipped negatively, our energy in is less than our energy out, we will certainly lose weight but at a significant cost. Our bodies are designed to sacrifice every bit of themselves that they possibly can before releasing gobs of fat for energy. This means that a lifestyle consisting of under consuming and over exercising will leave us with less bone mineral density, less muscle, and decreased libido. When we give the “I’m starving” message to our bodies all non-survival functions including reproductive function, metabolic function (all those required cell to cell transactions happening every day), and brain function slow or, in extreme instances, shut down.
At this point you recognize the importance of energy balance but you may be uncertain how to determine it for yourself. There are formulas that you can look up to determine a closer approximation of your energy balance need each day but let’s just talk for a moment about some simpler options. The first consideration is to check your body composition. If you have a healthy body fat (share this link with your trainer to determine yours. http://www.linear-software.com/online.html ) your energy balance is probably spot on. Your trainer will be able to help you determine whether your body fat is healthy or not after you have yours taken.
By knowing your body fat percentage you can determine if you’re body’s muscle versus fat ratio is ideal/average or other. A chronic negative energy balance will result in you weighing less but having an unusually high body fat to lean weight ratio. Some would consider you in this scenario to be under-muscled versus over-fat. On the other hand if you’re in positive energy balance you will show a higher percentage of body fat as your body is consistently in a state of surplus energy and thus storage of that energy in your fat tissue.
Another measure of your energy balance besides your body weight and body fat is your body’s immunity. Quite simply a well-nourished body will have a stronger immunity to infection and disease than an under-nourished one. A practical measure of this is to simply evaluate your health over the last few months. Were you sick at all? If so, evaluate the amount of food you consume each day and consider intuitively whether you have been eating too much or too little.
A final tried and true measure of energy balance is a tool that I would ask you to consider using every single day until you get it. It’s called the hunger scale. Here’s what it looks like:
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The purpose of this tool is to help you develop the habit of noticing how physically hungry or full you are. To use it simply circle two different numbers every time you are eating. The first number that you circle represents how you feel before you start to eat and the second number is indicative of how you feel after you eat. For optimum energy balance you are aiming to eat somewhere around a 7-8 and stopping somewhere around a 2-3.
Use of this scale regularly will help you to better appreciate understanding your hunger. It will increase your conscious awareness of all of the times that you eat for other reasons that really have nothing to do with physical hunger if you are a person who tends toward overconsumption. For those of you who may be in a chronic state of negative energy balance, use of a hunger scale can be a bit trickier. In my experience with implementing this with others, I find that under eaters tend to find themselves bouncing back and forth between the two extremes of hungriest and fullest. If you fit this description, it’s probably going to take longer to get back in touch with your hunger so be patient.
If anything, try to minimize the polarity of bouncing from one end of the scale to the other by listening to other cues of hunger such as mood (are you getting more edgy?), focus (does your brain seem less able to recall the information you’re asking it to?), lightheaded or headache (do you find yourself getting faint upon standing often or dealing with nagging headaches?), and that feeling of having an empty stomach (when was the last time I put something in there?). If you still find yourself struggling to pick up on hunger signals then look at the clock. If you have not eaten anything in four or more hours since the last time you did, stop whatever it is that is occupying your mind and go eat something!
Physiologically your body needs fuel even when all you’re doing is sitting around at least every 4-6 hours and if you ignore this basic need, your body will eat itself! Our bodies are designed with self-preservation in mind so when food is in short supply we become the main course to the detriment of our hard-earned muscle, brain health, sex-drive, and immunity. So at a minimum eat at least every 4 – 6 hours.
I hope I was able to provide you with some thoughtful perspective on why a significant part of good nutrition involves maintaining healthy energy balance. Please explore what I shared with you and determine how you can implement the information in a meaningful way for yourself. And, if you are challenged with getting the ball rolling on your own, talk to one of us about doing some coaching. We can get you started or refer you to one of our allied partners who can delve in as deep as you would want to go.
Next month I will explore the concept of nutrient density with you and why it should also be considered when defining good nutrition. Between now and then have a happy and safe holiday season!
1 – Perry, Marc, CSCS, CPT. “Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be? – BuiltLean.” BuiltLean. N.p., 03 Aug. 2010. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://www.builtlean.com/2010/08/03/ideal-body-fat-percentage-chart/>.
2 – Berardi, John, Dr., and Ryan Andrews, RD, CSCS. “What Is Good Nutrition?” The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Second ed. N.p.: Precision Nutrition, 2013. 9-17. Print.
Say hello to this month’s Client Spotlight, Barbro Huth. It was right around three years ago that one of her neighbors, who also happened to be (and still is!) a BodyBasics’ client, inspired enough curiosity in her to give our studio a call. At the time Barbro was actively seeking a fitness solution. In her words, she was feeling “weak and tired”. In her past she had joined several gyms but never found one that inspired her to stick with her workouts. So, with a renewed desire to “learn” to exercise, Barbro called BodyBasics and scheduled her initial evaluation.
When Barbro came in for her evaluation at BodyBasics, she knew she had stepped into a special place. Thinking back she recalls the sense of community she felt immediately as she walked through the front door from both trainers and other clients alike. Still, her initial plan was to learn some exercises and be on her way.
Barbro quickly recognized that her training at BodyBasics was much more than just learning some exercises. She saw how every movement in every session was always planned just for her. Additionally, Barbro discovered that her training was having a profound impact on her emotional wellbeing as well. When she would be training all bothersome thoughts would fall away and she found herself leaving each session feeling renewed.
Three years later Barbro continues to train at BodyBasics. In her words, “I have been training at BB for three years. When I started I thought a few sessions with Chris would be enough and then I would train on my own. I was wrong! Twice a week for three years – it’s become a routine I truly enjoy. I do feel stronger, I’m conscious of my movements, my balance is improved, my posture is better, I have muscles where I didn’t know there were any, and it’s been fabulous mentally.”
Welcome New and Returning Clients
The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from one of our clients or allied health network!
Pat Brown referred by Jeremy Irons at Adient-Gyllenhaal Physical Therapy
John Buehler referred by Dr. Griffin
Diane Cooper referred by her pulomologist
Sandy Donaldson referred by his Personal Trainer in Minnesota
Sandra Larison referred by Dr. Carol Henricks at NorthStar Hyperbaric Neurology
Henry Wood referred by a past intern of ours, Clay.
Shout outs are about us voicing victories we witness you all having at BodyBasics. What you don’t know is that we start every Wednesday staff meeting with our shout outs. After doing this for quite some time and realizing how many incredible experiences are being shared, We thought it would be excellent to position a place within our newsletter to share also with all of you. We’ll keep it to our top 5 each month.
Amy Maharry – for her dedication to her health and fitness through healing her foot
Denise Roepke – for recognizing the value of sticking to her workouts despite both physical and emotional upheavals that would have stopped her in her tracks in the past
Mo Goldman – for channeling life-changing discipline and dedication over the last year and affirming it all by completing the New York Marathon in 4 hours
Shelley Phipps – for her contagious enthusiasm every workout and unwavering commitment to getting the most out of every single session
Teena Sandstrom – for completing the 40 miler in the El Tour de Tucson and supporting a wonderful organization, Tu Nidito, in the process
Congratulations to our BodyBasics Athletes for completing some amazing races in November!
Mo Goldman New York City Marathon, Teena Sandstrom El Tour 40 miler
The ICS Gifts of Love program is a way to match families in need with donors and groups (faith communities, schools, businesses, civic organizations) who are willing to help meet seasonal needs. This year we are helping a family of 9 have a brighter holiday.
This will be BodyBasics 5th year participating in this wonderful program. We are collecting items now thru December 14th. It’s easy to participate, simply take an ornament from the tree and bring back the wish on the back. For more information on ICS and the Gift of Love program, click here.
Recipe – Healthy Appetizers
It’s holiday season and that means hosting and going to parties! Here are a couple fun, fresh and healthy options you can have out for pre-dinner munchies if you are hosting a party or to take if you are heading to one. These are easy to make and take only 30 minutes or less.
Tomato Basil Skewers
16 small fresh mozzarella balls
16 fresh basil leaves
16 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle, fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: prep time 10 minutes
Thread one of each item on a skewer, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Makes 16 skewers.
Nutrition per piece:
46 calories, 3 grams fat, 8mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 217 mg sodium.
Olive and Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
25 cherry tomatoes
3 ounces goat cheese
2 Tablespoons finely chopped green olives
1 Tablespoon low fat milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of each tomato. If necessary, trim a sliver off the bottom so the tomato sits flat. Gently scoop out the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a small knife.
Mash goat cheese, olives, milk and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Fill each hollowed tomato with a generous 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with oregano and more pepper, if desired.
Tips: make ahead and hold at room temperature for 2 hours. To help make stuffing easier, use a 1/4 teaspoon to scoop cheese mixture.
Makes: 24 tomatoes, nutrition per piece
14 calories; 1 g fat; 2 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 21 mg sodium
More great ideas can be found at
Video – DB Bent Over Row w/ Leg Variations
Chris, Kris, Amber, Maureen, Mike, Myrya