It’s ridiculous how much people think they know about nutrition these days but don’t understand the fundamental concepts when it comes to various types of nutrients.
Although our incredible obsession with weight and dieting has led to the boom of a billion dollar dieting industry, many people are aware of nutritional concepts such as fat, fiber, cholesterol, more than they ever were before.
These terms are important, but we need to understand the essentials in terms of what types of nutrients we need to be consuming on a daily basis.
The body needs six essential nutrients to function.
The first three are considered energy nutrients, or macronutrients. They consist of:
They are considered energy nutrients because they provide the body with energy. Each of these will be explained in detail in other articles but for now we just need to cover the essentials.
Carbohydrates provide the body with its most efficient and accessible source of energy and are relied heavily on during intense exercise. Fat is also a major fuel source (having a high concentration of calories) that provides the necessary essential fatty acids. As exercise intensity decreases, the proportion of fat burned increases accordingly. Lastly, protein builds and repairs body tissue, including muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The remaining three types of nutrients play a critical role in health but do not provide energy. They consist of:
Vitamins are organic compounds and they are necessary for good health. They must be supplied through diet because the body is not capable of making them. Vitamins are referred to as micronutrients because they are needed in small amounts to support normal health. Minerals are very important nutrients that serve numerous functions. One of the most common minerals we hear about is sodium, which helps assist with levels of body fluid (i.e. sweating).
Lastly, everyone must understand that water is essential for human survival. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and for good reason. It assists with everything from digestion to removing waste and regulating body temperature. We NEED water and we lots of it too. How do you know if you’re drinking enough water? Check out your urine: if it’s dark yellow, you need to drink more water. Urine should be pale yellow or even clear.
Nutrition really comes down to these essential types of nutrients. Once you understand exactly what you are putting in your body, it will be easier to make healthier food choices. Consider remembering the six essential types of nutrients to help assist you with your goals.