Nutrition Facts and Myths Part 2

National Nutrition Month

By Laura Van Camp

In honor of National nutrition month, last week’s article covered facts about dairy, grains and vegetables. This week is all about protein, sugar, and calories – things that the majority of Americans eat far too much of.

Calories

Calories are essentially the amount of energy a particular food contains. Your body needs this energy to last throughout the day, but often we eat many more calories than our body needs to consume. When you consume more calories than you need to use, your body assumes that you are preparing for a famine.

Leftover calories are converted into fat, so your body is able to use them later. Unfortunately, our bodies rarely encounter that famine and therefore continue to pack on the pounds. This is why counting calories is an effective weight loss strategy. The average male only needs 2,000-2,500 calories a day and the average female needs 1,500-2,000 calories. Apps like MyFitnessPal help you to keep track of your daily calorie intake.

Protein

Protein is an important element of our bodies – it makes up our skin, hair, muscles and bones and keeps our internal functions moving. The average adult needs to eat 46-56 grams of protein daily.

The quality of the protein we eat is more important than the amount. Eating red meat, like steak and beef, increases your risk of type-2 diabetes by 12-32 percent. Opt instead for white meat, fish, or even beans for your daily protein intake.

Sugar

 Sugar is hidden within all kinds of food and called by many names – high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, evaporated cane juice, to name a few. Sugar is another form of energy for your body.

Eating sugar raises your body’s glucose levels, which requires your brain to release insulin in order to use that glucose. However, eating too much sugar can cause either a shortage of insulin, or having too much insulin, which will cause your body to become resistant to it. This is the basis of diabetes. To keep your insulin and glucose levels in their normal state, it’s important to watch your sugar intake.

Stay tuned for next week’s article about which types of food are the worst for your health and your metabolism – and which foods are the best!

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