KINETICOACH Nutrition PART 1: Nutritional Density
Our last blog post introduced KINETICOACH’s Lifestyle Triage: 4 factors essential to improving your health and fitness. Although “Nutrition” is step 3 in our triage, it is often the most stressful factor for those striving to improve their health. Conflicting recommendations, misleading click-bait headlines, and fixation on finding the one “right” food are stressful distractions to what should be simple—eating. Traveling with limited food options adds further stress. We won’t dive too deep into the minutia, but over the next several blog posts, we’ll arm you with the knowledge and guidance to make healthy nutrition choices at home and on the road. This post defines the first of two words to help lay the foundation: nutritional density.
The simple definition of nutritional density is, “nutritional bang for your caloric buck.” The scientific definition (via Dr. Mat Lalonde) is, “the sum of essential nutrients in a food [with Recommended Daily Allowance accounted for] divided by mass [of food eaten].” Ideally, we want as much nutritional value as possible in as few calories as possible. We’re not implying a reduced calorie diet, but excessive caloric intake without much nutritional value is, for most of us, counterproductive to health.
This does NOT mean you must eat organic, nor does in imply healthy food can’t come in a package. And this does not mean you must be able to pronounce all ingredients on the package. Those are generalizations that don’t stand the scrutiny of closer analysis. Finally, this does not mean you must become neurotic over every detail of everything you eat.
Here’s the quick and dirty summary of the most nutrient dense foods you can choose: lean meats, vegetables, roots & tubers, fruits, and nuts. Start by building your meals and snacks around these foods (in the order listed). And, for clarity, let’s not count corn as a vegetable. Corn isn’t “the devil,” but it’s not very nutritionally dense.
Here are three examples of choosing “nutritionally dense” foods:
- Breakfast – Eggs and fruit instead of pancake, danish, waffle, cereal, or muffin
- Snack - Beef jerky and fruit instead of a bag of M&M’s or vending machine crackers
- Lunch/Dinner – Salmon, Chicken, greens, and potato instead of pasta or rice bowl
Here’s your challenge: starting with one meal per day (you get to pick), for the next 2 weeks, structure that meal around nutritionally dense foods using this method:
- Choose a leaner source of protein (chicken, eggs, lean cuts of red meat, seafood, eggs, etc.) We do not advocate veganism as a healthier lifestyle choice.
- Now pick a vegetable or root (greens, squashes, potato, sweet potato, etc.)
- Finally, pick a small quantity of fruit and/or nuts if desired (consider this your dessert if you must)
It’s tough to over-eat leaner, nutritionally dense foods (topic of next blog post), but to get an initial feel of what quantity is appropriate for you, we recommend the MyFitnessPal app.
Stay diligent in choosing nutritionally dense foods for your first challenge. And stay tuned for KINETICOACH Nutrition PART 2 where we'll cover hyperpalitable foods and how to avoid overeating.
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