This article serves as an introduction to nutrition in general. At the end of this article you can find links to more information regarding protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and diet
Nutrition is about more than just food. Nutrition is about the consumption of food and how it affects our health, (sports) performance and body. Therefore, the science regarding nutrition includes aspects such as: food intake, nutrient absorption, biosynthesis and dietary choices. In this article we try to describe the function and importance of nutrition, which types of nutrients there are, and how you should balance your nutrient intake.
Function and importance of nutrition
Nutrition is very important for everybody since it plays an important role in a healthy and happy lifestyle. When you pay attention to nutrition, you can reach and maintain a healthy and desired weight, reduce risk of diseases and promote your overall health and wellbeing.
It has also been found that bad nutrition has a large negative impact on our health. Due to the unhealthy eating habits and bad nutrition, at least 50% of the adult population in western countries are currently overweight . Therefore, it is not surprising that obesity is currently one of the largest health problems in the world . Obesity is such a big problem because it is a risk factor for multiple leading causes of death, including: diabetes, stroke, heart issues and cancer. Therefore good nutrition is important to keep us healthy and at a healthy weight .
Good nutrition should not only be important for people who are overweight, but also for people with a healthy weight. Good nutrition is important for everybody since a poor diet is also associated with major health risks, such as: diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure and cancer. There is a clear link between good nutrition and a healthy weight, reduced disease risk, and overall health and wellbeing. Therefore, everybody should focus on consuming the right nutrients in order to stay healthy, active, and strong.
Which types of nutrients are there ?
There are seven major types of nutrients. These are:
These nutrients can be grouped as macro- or micronutrients. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fibers, and water are considered to be macro-nutrients, our body needs these in relatively large amounts. Minerals and vitamins are considered to be micro-nutrients, our body needs these in smaller quantities. Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats are necessary because they provide our body with energy and building blocks. Vitamins, minerals, fibers and water do not provide the body with energy, but these are required for other important purposes in the body . Therefore, its important to consume enough of each different nutrient.
How should I balance my nutrient intake ?
We need to consume all types of nutrients in order to ensure the best possible health. Luckily, most of the food we consume is made up of several nutrient types. However, the amount of nutrients provided varies depending on the food source. Some food sources contain a lot of protein while others mainly provide carbohydrates or fat. It is important to realize that every gram of protein, carbohydate, and fat also provides calories. These calories are an unit of energy and provide energy in the form of heat so that our body can function. The amount of calories a meal provides depends on the food and the nutrients in the food. Each gram of carbohydrate or protein provides four calories, while each gram of fat provides nine calories.
In order to consume the right amount of macronutrients and calories, it is important to know how much calories and macronutrients you should consume. The average person needs to consume ~2,000-2,500 calories daily, in order to maintain their current weight. However, optimal daily calorie intake depends on factors such as: goal, age, gender, weight, height and physical activity level. Due to the large differences in recommended calorie intake, it is highly advised to calculate your optimal daily calorie intake. This can be easily done by using an online calorie calculater (See: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html).
Furthermore, you need to consume the right amount of macronutrients in order to achieve the best possible health and to get optimal results.
Displayed above, are some general recommendations for macronutrient intake based on goals. However, you may also use a macronutrient calculator in order to receive exact recommendations for your daily macronutrient intake based on goal, age, gender, weight, height and physical activity level (See: https://www.calculator.net/macro-calculator.html).
For micronutrients there are basic guidelines on the recommended intake. These recommendations differ among the types of vitamins and minerals, and are often dependent on age and gender. Therefore, we can’t show a general recommendation regarding vitamin and mineral intake. However, it is recommended that you eat enough fruit and vegetables in order to make sure you consume a decent amount of vitamins and minerals. It is also often recommended to take extra vitamins and minerals through the use of a vitamin supplement. If you want exact recommendations regarding vitamins or minerals we recommend reading our articles about them.
What should I eat ?
What foods you eat and how much you eat, should be based on your recommended calorie intake, recommended macronutrient intake and recommended micronutrient intake. What you eat in order to achieve the optimal intake can greatly differ. Therefore, it’s often recommended to create a diet / meal plan in order to consume the right amount of food and the right types of food. Many diet plans can be found online, but you can also create one yourself or let someone create a personalized diet plan.
Who should focus on nutrition ?
As mentioned before, nutrition is very important for everybody. However, they are certain people who should pay even more attention to their macronutrient and calorie intake. Athletes and people who are looking to change their weight by either adding muscle or losing fat should pay close attention to their nutrition in order to get optimal results. The goals that these people try to achieve require a macronutrient and calorie intake which is different from basic macronutrient and calorie intake. Depending on the goal they may need to consume more or less calories than recommended.
More information about nutrition
Do you want more information about nutrients or do you want to know what to eat with a great diet? Then click on one of the categories below to find out more!
- Macronutrients (Coming soon)
- Protein (Coming soon)
- Carbohydrates (Coming soon)
- Fats (Coming soon)
- Vitamins (Coming soon)
- Minerals (Coming soon)
- Creating a diet plan based on your goal (Coming soon)
- James, P. T. (2004). Obesity: the worldwide epidemic. Clinics in dermatology, 22(4), 276-280.
- Antipatis, V. J., & Gill, T. P. (2001). Obesity as a global problem. International textbook of obesity, 3-22.
- Berdanier, C. D., Berdanier, L. A., & Zempleni, J. (2008). Advanced nutrition: macronutrients, micronutrients, and metabolism. CRC press.