In conjunction with our partners at Fit Futures Learning Institute, we've prepared the following nutritional guidelines for our Cadence members. 

Nutrition is the science that looks at how the nutrients we eat effect our body. In the past, food sources were dictated largely by the seasonal nature or availability of food.

Now more than ever we understand the consequences of the food we eat. At this stage in time we have an informed basis of knowledge about how food not only affects our energy levels, but also our general health and wellbeing.

Nutrition has a significant impact on our physical and mental performance. We understand that what we eat and when, will have a big impact on how we function.

With the abundance of food available it is no surprise that obesity, heart disease and the myriad of illnesses associated with nutrition are at an all-time high. Through understanding more about nutrition, we will gain the power to better educate ourselves on how to make the correct eating choices to improve our health as well as improve our body composition. The nutrients we eat can be defined as either macronutrients or micronutrients

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide us with energy to function. These units of energy are measured in calories. The calories we receive from the different macronutrients vary

  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram gives us 7 calories
  • Protein: 1 gram gives us 7 calories
  • Fat: 1 gram gives us 9 calories

So simply put, if you had 100grams of carbohydrates you would be taking in 700 calories.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the most readily available source of energy to humans. In the form of glucose, it is used to fuel our body and its exercising muscles. It is stored in the muscle as glycogen and this is our most readily available supply. It can also be found in the liver and in blood glucose.

Carbohydrates come in different forms and can be broken down into simple or complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are generally sugars which are short-chain fast digesting carbohydrates that can be found naturally within fruit. It is also found in most fizzy drinks, lollies and other sweet foods.

Complex carbohydrates are starches that are composed of several sugars linked together. They provide the body with more long-term energy as they are more slowly digested. They are commonly found in potatoes, pumpkin and beans. They can also be found in breads as well as any food made with flour.

Fibre is another form of complex carbohydrate that assists with digestive health. It is an insoluble carbohydrate that assists in the regulation of bowel movements and can be found in several foods such as beans, brown rice and certain bran cereals.

Glycogen is a form of energy storage in the body. It is estimated that the body stores about 2000 calories worth of energy as glycogen. It gets stored in mainly 2 places, in muscles, and in the liver. Glycogen that is stored in the liver can be used by other organs and cells in the body. When we exercise it depletes our glycogen stores which leads to fatigue which is why we require adequate carbohydrate intake to maintain our glycogen stores.

Example foods with 20grams of carbohydrates:

  • Slice of bread
  • Dinner roll
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 30grams of popcorn
  • 1 cup cooked porridge
  • 2 weetbix
  • ½ cup cooked pasta/rice
  • 1 potato
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple/orange
  • 300mls standard sports drink

Other carbohydrate food sources

  • Apricots 80grams – 7 grams carbohydrates
  • Strawberries 80grams – 5 grams carbohydrates
  • Carrots 80grams boiled – 4 grams carbohydrates
  • Broccoli 80grams boiled – 1-gram carbohydrates
  • Chickpeas 80grams – 13grams carbohydrates

Proteins 

Proteins are large molecules that are made up of amino acids. These are widely considered to be the building blocks of our body. They provide the body with the materials it needs to build and repair itself.

There are 20 different types of amino acids and they can be classified as essential or non-essential. There are 9 essential amino acids that you must obtain from foods. The other 11 amino acids the body can create itself hence the title non- essential.

As the body is continuously breaking down protein tissue it cannot store these amino acids meaning we need to consume them on a regular basis.

When it comes to the grouping of protein, they can be described as complete or incomplete protein. Complete proteins are foods that contain all the essential amino acids such as fish, meat, eggs, milk or cheese. Incomplete proteins are missing some of the essential amino acids and can be found in foods such as legumes, nuts and whole grains.

Examples of foods with 15grams of protein

  • 50grams lean meat
  • 75grams lean mince
  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 400ml low fat milk
  • 300ml low fat yoghurt (unflavoured)
  • 20grams whey protein
  • 60grams cheddar cheese

Other protein food source examples

  • Roast chicken 60grams – 16grams protein
  • Cottage cheese ½ cup – 14grams protein
  • Tinned tuna 85grams – 22grams protein
  • Dried lentils ¼ cup – 13grams protein

Fats

Fats are the body’s major storage form of energy and they can provide more energy than protein or carbohydrates. In addition to this they also provide valuable protection to vital body organs and joints as well as insulate the body.

Fats belong to a group of molecules called lipids which do not dissolve in water. Fatty acids are the building blocks of these fat molecules.

Dependent on the presence of hydrogen atoms, fats can be classified as either saturated or unsaturated.

Saturated fats contain the maximal number of hydrogen atoms, i.e. they are ‘saturated’ in hydrogen atoms and at room temperature they form a solid state. Lard, dairy products, and animal fats are the best examples of saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are fatty acids which are missing a hydrogen atom. At room temperature they would typically be found in a liquid

state. Unsaturated fats can be further classified as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or trans-fats. 

The effect that the various fats have on our health is under constant debate. It was long believed that saturated fats increased our risk of heart disease and monounsaturated fats lowered it. However recent research analysis brings these theories into question. While these guidelines still provide us with the best blueprint for concerns of health there is a continual growth in our knowledge in this area.

What we do know is that trans-fat undoubtedly increases the risk of heart disease and should be avoided. Polyunsaturated fats, which include omega-3 and omega-6 appear to lower the risk of heart disease so they are widely recommended.

Examples of fat content in some foods

  • Avocado – 30grams fat
  • Eggs – 5grams fat
  • Almonds 100grams – 49grams fat
  • Butter 14grams – 12grams fat
  • Raw Salmon 100grams – 13grams fat
  • Pizza 4 slices – 40grams fat
  • Croissant – 23grams fat

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that we require in small amounts to allow for everyday bodily function. These consist of the various vitamins (such as Vitamin A) and minerals (such as iron) that are readily available through food sources.

Both macronutrients and micronutrients serve important roles for our everyday functioning, so we must understand the best sources for them. When it comes to performance, these elements have an even greater role.

They are the vitamins and minerals required in small amounts (micro) to assist in our daily function. Your body must obtain most of these micronutrients from foods as it cannot produce them itself.

It is important to note that while macronutrients give us the energy to perform, micronutrients give us the essentials to function. While a nutrient rich diet will cover most bases, population groups which avoid certain food groups, such as vegetarians, need to be careful as they could be missing out on the vitamins and minerals that they need.

Minerals

The minerals we will look at are Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Magnesium. In the table below, we can see what their function is in the body, good food sources for them and what would occur if we were deficient in them.

Mineral

Function

Sources

Deficiency

Calcium

Assists in building strong bones, regulates blood clotting

Dairy products, leafy/green vegetables

Osteoporosis as you get older

Iron

Helps build hemoglobin which

carries oxygen around the blood

Red meat, eggs and

whole grains

Anemia

Potassium

Helps regulate fluid balance inside the body in addition to assisting normal functioning of

nerves and muscles

Bananas, carrots and milk

Numerous problems including muscle cramps, spasms and

heart palpitations

Magnesium

Assists in the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates, bone growth and aids muscle

contraction/relaxation

Milk, meat and nuts

Like those of potassium

Zinc

Builds immune system and helps with wound healing, it is also required for proper sense of

taste and smell

Meat, beans and dairy products

Decreased immune function, hair loss and abnormalities with

taste

Vitamins

Vitamins assist our body in the same way minerals do. Vitamins can be either water soluble or fat soluble. Water Soluble Vitamins dissolve in the body and include Vitamin B and C. Fat Soluble Vitamins are dissolved and transported by fat and can be stored in the fat tissue, liver or kidneys. This includes Vitamin A, D, E and K.

The vitamins we will look at are Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. 

Mineral

Function

Sources

Deficiency

Vitamin A

Maintains good vision, promotes body cell growth, helps protect teeth

Green vegetables and dairy products

Issues with vision including potential blindness

Vitamin B1

Aids in nervous system function

Avocado, Turkey, Broccoli, Bok choy and lentils.

Weakness and pain in

limbs

Vitamin B2

Aids in metabolism of carbs,

proteins, and fats

Cracking of lips and

sensitivity to sunlight

Vitamin B3

Aids in metabolism

Aggression, weakness

and mental confusion

Vitamin B6

Aids in metabolism of carbs,

proteins, and fats

Mouth ulcers and

conjunctivitis

Vitamin B12

Maintains healthy nervous system and red blood cells

Memory loss and a decrease in cognitive

abilities

Vitamin C

Fights against infection, maintains healthy gums, strengthens and maintains blood

vessels

Citrus fruits, tomatoes and leafy vegetables

Fatigue, bruising and dryness of hair and skin

Vitamin D

Promotes the development of healthy bones and teeth

Mostly sourced from exposure to sunlight but can also be found in

eggs and salmon

Bone pain and muscle weakness, an increased risk of heart disease

Vitamin E

Assists in the maintenance of

red blood cells

Whole grains, leafy

green vegetables

Mild anemia, age

spots, cataracts

 

Fluids

The importance of water is extremely well documented. Water is the main component of all living systems. It assists with the transport of materials in the body by its presence in blood plasma, it helps regulate body temperature, and helps break down food in the digestive system. As it makes up 60% of our body, it is arguable the most important nutrient.

On average, we lose around 2.5litres of water per day through sweat, breathing and removal of waste. In addition to drinking it, we also get around 40% of water intake from our foods. However, to stay on top of our fluid demands we must be getting most it from the fluid itself. Failure to get enough water in will lead to dehydration.

Dehydration

Dehydration is the loss of water and electrolytes such as potassium and sodium which are vital for bodily function. While severe dehydration is not normally a problem for developed countries, sadly it claims millions of lives yearly amongst third world nations.

Early or mild dehydration is noted by feelings of extreme thirst, warm skin and urine being dark in colour. It was also cause feelings of weakness and dizziness.

In terms of performance, dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume and rate of sweating which means core temperature increases. This also leads to an increased rate of muscle glycogen use which all leads towards a decrease in performance.

The big question when it comes to water is how much do we require daily? Your baseline fluid intake should be bodyweight x 0.033.

If I was 80kgs I would be requiring 2.64litres of water daily.

When you factor in the added element of physical activity this fluid requirement obviously increases. We want to make sure we minimise the impact the inevitable perspiration with have on our hydration levels.

Prior to training you keep your water intake relatively normal. Don’t attempt to drink large quantities of water as this will cause discomfort and most likely lead to you excessively using the bathroom.

During the session, you are aiming to maintain hydration as much as possible, so you want to make sure you are rehydrating between 80-90% of the fluid you are losing.

An easy way to measure the fluid requirements during physical activity is to check your weight before and after training.

After training you should also aim to continue with the rehydration. Note that the body can generally only absorb around 1litre of water per hour though so anything above this will most likely be excreted as waste.

Sports drinks

Sports drinks are commonplace amongst the food industry now, but they should be used very sparingly. The extra carbohydrates added to them mean they are not ideal for body composition, furthermore the actual demand to rehydrate with anything more than water would only be suitable for intense sessions that last more than 60minutes.

Alcohol

Despite it social status, alcohol offers very little nutritional value and negatively effects your physical performance. Its calorie content cannot be used by the muscles and the body treats it as a fat, so it gets converted into fatty acids. It can also inhibit the absorption of nutrients as well as causing dehydration.

Drinking of alcohol, particularly red wine, can decrease the risk of heart disease once we get to middle age however the guidelines are little and often. The increased health risks that come with drinking in excess, such as cancer, mean it is still hard to recommend alcohol consumption for health.

If you do choose to drink, the guidelines are no more than 3 standard drinks for males or 2 standard drinks for females per day. Any more than this is generally unadvisable on an ongoing basis.

Remember, in addition to the health risks there are also the potential social consequences. While drinking in excess may seem social, the possible results could be undesirable.

Nutrition around training

By eating the correct foods prior to our sessions, we can optimize our energy levels and ensure we put it all into the session. Failure to do so will usually result in a lethargic session.

We also want to make the most of the period after our session as this is a good time to restore fluid levels as well as provide the body with nutrients to help repair muscle damage that has occurred as well as increase muscle growth.

Pre-training: Up to 90minutes before the session

Prior to your bout of exercise, you want to make sure you are having an adequate supply of protein and carbohydrates. Ideally you will have a proper meal around 60-90minutes before you train (with a serving of protein and a serving of carbohydrates).

During the session: For the duration of the training

While you are exercising, it is advisable to have a sports drink containing 30 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of protein every hour of activity. This will not only help provide energy to maintain the level of exertion you can achieve but it will also help maintain hydration levels and assist in the recovery post training.

Note that for longer endurance exercises (upwards of 90minutes), there will be an increased carbohydrate demand which can be upwards of 60grams per hour.

Post-Training: Immediately after exercise

This period lasts up until 3 hours post exercise and the first hour afterwards is often viewed as the best time to refuel particularly with regards to muscle growth. If you do not make the right nutritional choices you can run the risk of muscle breakdown which would result in diminishing returns from your session.

To maximise this one-hour window, often referred to as the anabolic window, your best choice of nutrition is a fast-acting liquid immediately after training. From here you want to eat a solid meal 1-2hours after the session.

Energy Balance

In its simplest form, the energy balance equation attempts to represent what happens to our body by looking at the difference between our calorie intake and calorie expenditure.

Energy in = Energy out

So effectively, to maintain a consistent body weight our energy in must equal our energy out. If we were looking to decrease our body weight we would need to consume less calories than we burned (meaning the body would breakdown fat stores to get more energy). Conversely, if we were looking to put on size we would consume more calories than we burned.

Thermic Effect of Food is the energy expended to digest and process the food we eat. Protein takes more energy to break down, so it increases our energy out when compared to carbohydrates.

Thermic Effect of Activity is the energy we burn from physical activity. For someone who has a larger muscle mass they will burn MORE calories from activity than someone who is of the same weight but has a lesser muscle mass.

Lifestyle Factors also have an impact on calorie expenditure. A more active individual would have a higher requirement for macronutrients. This is an important consideration when considering an individual’s occupation. A labourer who is performing active work all day would require a higher calorie intake than that of a sedentary office worker.

Age also has an impact as our Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, which is the amount of energy expended while at rest, which decreases as we get older. Along the same vein during our growth phase our caloric intake will be higher, and it should be noted that restricting calories during this time can adversely affect a child’s growth.

Lastly, during pregnancy caloric requirements will also be increased. On average it is believed that the total energy requirement during pregnancy is 285 calories a day. During the first trimester there is a 5% increase in BMR, the second is a 10% increase and during the last trimester it goes up to a 25% increase.

If our daily calorie requirements were 2000 calories we would need to increase this to 2100, 2200 and 2500 during our 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters respectively.

Nutritional Imbalances

While we know that we require food for sustenance, it is often easy to miss other areas of nutrition that are crucial for our bodies to function correctly. When we neglect certain aspects of nutrition we set ourselves up for on-going concerns when it comes to our health as well as a potential decrease in performance within our training.

One of the main causes of nutritional imbalance is fad dieting. Fad diets usually promise rapid weight loss through restriction of certain food types, macronutrients or selective supplementation. While fad diets may offer rapid weight loss they seldom provide long term strategies and often any weight loss in the short term is quickly put back on.

The lifestyle a person lives can also lead to problems with nutrient intake. If an individual has a sedentary lifestyle and places no value

on their health and fitness, they are less likely to seek out nutritional knowledge and be educated on the food choices they make.

Other issues to consider include

  • the cultural influence on food: It is considered rude in several cultures to not eat all the food offered which can lead to
  • over eating
  • Peer pressure: failure to stick to the correct nutritional choices because of the influence of friends
  • Income: Food choices may be dictated by financial affordability and cheaper/less nutritious options may be chosen.
  • Food Preparation: inability to prepare food may lead to an excess intake of takeaways or fast foods
  • Vegetarianism: Can cause issues with micronutrient intake if handled poorly

These factors can all lead to issues with macronutrient and/or micronutrient intake. Let’s further examine.

High carbohydrate intake

As we know, the body uses carbohydrates for energy. Adequate carbohydrates in our diet allow us to produce energy quickly. However, if our intake is too high in carbohydrates this can lead to several problems within our body. The excess calories beyond those that we burn will lead to weight gain as the unused glucose get stored as fat.

Additionally, a diet high in carbohydrates boosts blood sugar levels, which means the body must produce more insulin to deal with the excess glucose. Over time a high carbohydrate diet can lead to resistance to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Low carbohydrate intake

Current trends in nutrition suggest that a diet low in carbohydrates is the fastest and easiest way to help decrease body fat. Defined as a diet where less than 26% of our calories come from carbohydrates, a low-carb diet consists of most of our energy intake coming from proteins and fats. In addition to causing a greater fat loss than traditional methods, research has also shown that a low carbohydrate diet has better adherence. Furthermore, a low-carb diet has a greater positive impact on abdominal fat and cholesterol levels.

While the benefits above do seem quiet enticing, a low carbohydrate approach isn’t for everyone. A lack of carbohydrates can lead to a decrease in the body’s release of serotonin which can cause depression. Additionally, there could be issues with a low fibre intake as carbohydrates are restricted which in addition to causing issues with digestive health can also lead to an increased cancer and cardiovascular risk.

High fat intake

Usually in conjunction with a low carb diet, a high fat intake is advocated for calorie intake. While we know that low carb/high fat diets do have some merit there is still some concerns to be aware of.

No matter what diet you follow, if your calorie intake is high you will still gain weight. One of the issues some people have when they switch to a diet higher in fats is that the calories per gram are a lot high meaning their calorie intake increases which would inevitably lead to weight gain. High fat diets also tend to be low in fibre which as we examined can cause issues with bowel health, cancer and heart disease.

Low fat intake

A diet too low in fat also has its issues. As several vitamins are fat soluble so if our diet is too low in fat it means we won’t be absorbing them. This can lead to problems with growth, immunity as well as cell repair.

Research has also shown that diets that are too low in fat can lead to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease as well as mental health issues such as depression.

Protein Intake

A diet that is high in protein has been promoted as beneficial for weight loss and muscle gain. While most research shows this to be valid, mostly in the short term, there are still several associated risks with a high protein intake.

Some diets which are high in protein restrict carbohydrate intake which can equate to insufficient fibre and nutritional deficiencies. Health problems associated with this can cause constipation and diverticulitis.

A high protein diet may worsen kidney function in people with kidney disease because your body may have trouble eliminating all the waste products of protein metabolism. Note this effect is not seen in individuals with normally functioning kidney

Closing points on nutrition

Nutrition is a constantly evolving and ever-changing field. As more and more research become available on the foods we consume the guidelines continue to change.

With the information you now have you should be comfortable providing nutritional options for the whanau to increase their health and wellbeing.

Lastly, remember that what works for one individual may not be appropriate for another, so it is important to be self-directed in learning about your food intake and the reaction that your body has towards particular food.