Article – What Is Good Nutrition? Part Two
Happy New Year everyone and welcome to 2016! For those of you who have been faithfully reading my articles you will recall that last month I started a series exploring some solid and evidence-based answers to the question, “What is good nutrition?” I provided five important criteria that all 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
I then went into some detail concerning criterion point number one. If you missed it I encourage you to go back and check out the article found in the December 2015 newsletter. Today I want to continue with this series by breaking down point number two, good nutrition provides nutrient density. Let’s get started.
Nutrient density is defined as the ratio of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.) relative to the total calorie content in a food. Therefore a food with high nutrient density would contain a large amount of key nutrients (protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins, etc.) per 100 calories of food1. Check out the link to www.authoritynutrition.com for a list of the 11 most nutrient dense foods on the planet2.
Also important to understand when learning about nutrient density and its relevance to good nutrition is another term, calorie density. Calorie density is defined as the ratio of calories (which are merely units of potential energy in food) to the actual weight of a food. Therefore a food with high calorie density would have a lot of calories per 100 grams of food while a food with low calorie density would have few calories per 100 grams of food. For example, foods with a lot of fiber and water tend to have lower calorie density. Foods which have less water or are higher in fat tend to be higher calorie density options1. It is important to note that just because a food has a high calorie density does not mean that we should avoid it. In fact many foods that have a high calorie density are actually very good for us to eat judiciously because they are also nutrient rich as well. Some examples include avocado, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, dried fruits, and oily fish. What we do want to be sensitive to are the calorie dense foods that are also low nutrient dense foods. Some common examples include ready-made salad dressings, potato chips, cookies, processed meats, and fast and fried foods.
By now you probably have recognized that the best combination of nutrient and calorie density for improving health and promoting fat loss is a diet that is high in nutrient dense foods and low in calorie dense foods. Having such a diet provides a number of benefits.
For one, it is much easier to control your calorie intake when you opt for a diet that leans toward nutrient dense and less calorie dense options. I’ll give you the example of my delicious salad from the other night. It was loaded with vegetables such as spinach, beets, bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomato slices, and carrots and then complimented with a couple of sliced hardboiled eggs and some fresh chopped bacon bits. The dressing was balsamic vinaigrette. The nutrient density in this salad was huge, as was the bowl I ate it in. However the calorie density was so much less than say a Caesar salad with heavy dressing, croutons, parmesan cheese and a whole lot less color.
Another benefit of high nutrient density and low calorie density is satiation, the state of being satisfactorily full. As mentioned earlier in this article, foods that are more nutrient dense tend to be higher in both water and fiber content. Both of these elements communicate a feeling of fullness to our bodies. So inclusion of these types of options, like my salad again, leave us feeling satisfied for longer periods of time with less total calories coming in.
This brings us to another benefit of eating high nutrient dense and low calorie dense foods; you will find great difficulty in overeating. Take a walk back in time to Thanksgiving for a moment and you will remember, vividly for some, how quickly we can pack in a lot of food. Fat and sugar tend to guide this ability. Low calorie dense/high nutrient dense foods such as fresh vegetables, broth-based soups, and fresh fruits to name a few are very hard to overeat. In the rare instance that we decide to stuff ourselves with one of these types of foods, the dent on our waistline will still be next to nil because the water to calorie content is so disproportionate. For example 3 cups of kale is less than 100 calories. If you ate that much at one time, the water and fiber in it would make you feel like you ate 1000 calories!
A final highly valuable benefit of eating a diet high in nutrient dense foods and low in calorie dense foods is for the health of it. The vitamins and minerals naturally occurring in whole foods determine our quality of life. Immune function, sex hormones, heart health, brain function and every other aspect of happy living are directly linked to the concentration of vitamins and minerals we consume, or don’t, every single day. When we are chronically choosing higher calorie and less nutrient dense options over the latter we are literally speeding up the aging process of our different organ systems. You can dramatically reduce this from ever happening by loading up your plates each day with a variety of fruits and vegetables representing as many colors in the rainbow as you can get. Mind you, eating fruits and vegetables alone will not provide all of your daily vitamins and minerals. You will need some other foods such as beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and dairy, meat, and fish for all non-vegetarians. However simply increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables each day will dramatically improve your body’s available vitamin and mineral content.
I hope you found this second part helpful. I know that when I first started learning about healthy nutrition I was told so many different things. My hope in providing you this series is to get right to the core of what good nutrition is. And as we discussed, it is very important to understand what nutrient density is and why you want to pursue it for yourself. Next time I will dig further into point number three. Until then, enjoy some happy and healthy eating!
1 – 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.
2 – Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods on the Planet.” RSS 20. Authority Nutrition, 05 Mar. 2014. Web. 03 Jan. 2016. <http://authoritynutrition.com/11-most-nutrient-dense-foods-on-the-planet/>.
Client Spotlight – Rick and Marline Dunn
Meet the Dunns! Both are shining examples of what persistence can do. Their story with BodyBasics began at separate intervals, first with Marline followed by Rick. Marline started coming to BodyBasics about 3 years ago looking for a solution for her left foot that was really starting to nag her after walking on a treadmill, something that had happened in her tumultuous past that involved back surgery and some hardware. So, needless to say, she wanted to squash her foot hurt as soon as possible! After both her massage therapist, Lorri Gaffney, and her good friend, Annette Geistfeld, both recommended Chris at BodyBasics, she was sold. Then Chris and Marline developed a program for her to do mainly at home and then met once a week to provide adjustments to it. Things were moving along well until she started having pain down her left leg and into her SI joint. Something was clearly not working. Thankfully a consult with Dr. Samir Patel revealed that scar tissue from her prior surgery had formed and was creating intense nerve distress. Two different shots were administered to reopen the narrowing space that was the locus of her pain and she was as good as new!
Presently, Marline participates in the Foundations small group class at BodyBasics along with her husband every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She continues to get stronger and more able bodied.
In her words: “Not only have I received excellent physical help here, I have received excellent mental health. When I lost my self-motivation to exercise, which was very depressing, I came to Chris for help. My goals have always been the same for three years: maintain my metal back, keep my body strength, good balance, and flexibility. I am very fortunate to have BodyBasics in my life. Thank you.”
Rick’s days at BodyBasics didn’t start first as a client. Instead they started as a co-coach to Chris as the focus was on getting his wife Marline’s foot to feel better. Rick would come to just about every session in support of his wife and Chris would make sure that he knew how to assist with various exercises so that Marline had a resource in him at home. Then one day Rick came in asking about exercises for his balance. That was the beginning of his training relationship with BodyBasics.
Unfortunately no sooner had he started than Chris recommended he see a cardiologist after a treadmill evaluation revealed some questionable heart activity. That ended up being a godsend because it turned out that his heart was in distress and that resulted in two arrhythmia operations and at least a year away from BodyBasics!
Rick has always prided himself in his physical fitness. Starting from an early age as a lifeguard in the Santa Monica area and later as an Underwater Demolition specialist in the Navy he always demonstrated an incredibly high level of personal discipline when it came to taking care of his health. So you can imagine the impact multiple heart surgeries had on him. Still, the guy pushes on. He is a wonderful example of perseverance in action. Presently Rick joins Marline for the Foundations small group classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Welcome New and Returning Clients
The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from one of our clients or allied health network!
Sarah Kennedy referred by Shelley Phipps
Susie Hilkemeyer, Welcome Back!
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.
Judy Krautter – for achieving a personal best on her hex bar deadlift of 155 pounds x 4 reps!
The Ladies at 6PM Group – for their dedication and letting BodyBasics be a place that they look forward to coming to at the end of their days at work!
Rick Weiss – for staying ultra consistent with both his scheduled workouts and his personal workouts during the busiest time of his year!
Marny Wellman – for increasing her “can do” and “can do sometimes” lists dramatically in the last few months!
Kim Griesmer – for her cheerful welcome to all everytime she comes in and her continued transformation from wheel chair bound to quite capable!
Recipe – Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots
Try this yummy skillet recipe for a complete meal in less than 30 minutes. I recommend having all ingredients cut and ready to go before starting as the recipe moves fast.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 (6oz) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 ounces baby carrots
8 ounces small red potatoes, halved
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Thyme
8 thin lemon slices, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups, whole milk divided (I used skim milk)
1 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and cook 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Place carrots and potatoes, cut side down in pan; sprinkle with Thyme. Place pan in oven; bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Return chicken to pan; top with lemon slices. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Place chicken and vegetables on a plate.
- Combine 1/2 cup milk, flour and rind in a bowl. Return pan to medium-high heat (do not wipe out pan). Add flour mixture, remaining 1 cup of milk, and stock to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add chicken and vegetables to pan. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Serves 4 (serving size on piece of chicken, 3/4 cup of vegetables and 1/2 cup of sauce)
Calories: 365; Fat 11g (3.2g saturated); Protein 42g; Carb 23g; Fiber 3g; Cholesterol 118mg; Sodium 673mg
Video – Bridge on a Slick Surface
Wishing You All A Happy, Healthy New Year,
Chris, Kris, Amber, Maureen, Mike, Myrya