Understanding Basic Nutrient Needs

Understanding Basic Nutrient Needs

Question:

Hi, my name is Allison and I joined LA Fitness this summer. My very basic question is, what ARE the nutrient needs of a basic adult?  (I’m female, 5’4″, 135 lbs. and trying to shed 5 -10 lbs., work out 3-4x/ week and walk on off days). I just want to know what the basic categories of things are a person needs. I’ve heard about nutrients being macros (fat protein carb) and micro (vitamins and minerals) but I’ve also heard nutritionists online say to get fiber and leafy greens and antioxidants and others say lots of veggies and lean meat – and I know they’re all related and many of them overlap- so I guess I’m just confused about what to seek out in my diet. Thank you SO much.

– Allison T.

Answer:

Allison, based on your anthropometrics and level of exercise your daily nutrient needs may fall into the following ranges (provided for a 30-year-old woman):

  •                 1,900-2,400 Calories
  •                 63-80 gms Fat (30% calories)
  •                 61-92 gms Protein (1.0-1.5 gram/kg)
  •                 240-300 gms Carbohydrate (50% calories) including 25 gms Fiber (standard daily value)

Please see the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intake tables for vitamins and minerals for your intake targets of 29 micronutrients. Antioxidant action is an important function of certain micronutrients and phytochemicals (beneficial compounds found in plants), so we call those antioxidants.

As far as basic nutrients, you just need to add one thing to your list of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals – water! It is a macronutrient since we need such large volumes of it. Since it doesn’t provide calories, water is not often regarded the same as the 3 energy-yielding macronutrients. Exact requirements are not specified by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, but the adequate intake of water is 3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters per day for women, including beverages and water derived from solid food.

You can look at nutrient numbers specifically now and then, but to ease the confusion just focus on your dietary habits and overall consumption to obtain sources of those nutrients. What you should seek out in your diet are plant-based protein sources, raw produce of every color, the most wholesome grains, the leanest animal foods, and unsweetened beverages… in amounts that just satisfy you. Those recommendations can be suited to every culture and worldly food belief. Sounds a lot simpler to me!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Low Carb and Fat for Cholesterol

Low Carb and Fat for Cholesterol

Question:

Hello. Both of my cholesterols are borderline, and my doctor and I agreed not to start on any medication. Instead, a low-carb, low-fat diet is what I’m looking forward to doing. What should I look for in food labels? Fat grams? Total fat? Carbs? Trans fat? There’s so much info. I’m confused. How much do I need of what? Thanks.

– Patricia D.

Answer:

Hi Patricia! Exact nutrition targets would depend on your full lipid profile, so you should consider taking your lab results to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for a personalized prescription. You’re right that there is so much information – because it is such a complex situation with multiple factors. While I can’t clarify how much YOU need, I can explain which fats and carbs impact each lipid, and what are the major sources of those macronutrients.

  • If total cholesterol is too high AND it is due to the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or other undesirable components being elevated, then take action to reduce those measures. Having a very high level of the desirable high-density lipoprotein (HDL) could push total cholesterol to a high number, but that situation may not be a concern.
  • If the LDL cholesterol is high, then decreasing total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat while increasing fiber may help reduce LDL.
  • If HDL cholesterol is low, then decreasing trans fat, opting for unsaturated fats, consuming alcohol in moderation, quitting smoking, increasing exercise, and losing extra weight may raise HDL levels.
  • If triglycerides are too high, then decreasing refined carbohydrates and saturated fat, limiting alcohol and increasing omega-3 fat, losing excess weight, and exercising may improve triglycerides.

TOTAL FAT – The daily reference value for total fat in a 2,000-calorie diet is 65 grams per day, representing a limit of 30% calories. Major sources are fried foods, animal products including dairy products, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives. Oils and butter and pure fat. Some desserts and condiments are nearly all fat calories.

SATURATED FAT – The daily reference value for saturated fat in a 2,000-calorie diet is 20 grams, representing a limit of 10% calories. Saturated fat is the type which is solid at room temperature. Mainly from animal sources, palm and coconut. Major sources include cheese, butter, cream, ground beef, bacon, fatty cuts of meat and foods fried in lard or sautéed in butter.

TRANS FAT – Created during the hydrogenation of vegetable oils, this very harmful fat is found primarily in processed foods and animal products. No known safe amount. In 2015 the FDA stated, “…there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that partially hydrogenated oils, which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in human food.

UNSATURATED FAT – Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are predominantly found in plant foods. Avocados, olives, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds are major sources.

OMEGA-3 FAT – A particular kind of polyunsaturated fat that is predominantly from mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon and trout. Notable sources include other fish and seafood, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil.

FIBER – The daily reference value for dietary fiber in a 2,000 calorie diet is 25 grams, representing a minimum of 1.5 grams per 100 calories. Soluble fibers are the type that directly help to reduce cholesterol. Major sources include oats, beans, peas, lentils, apples, pears, barley, and prunes.

REFINED CARBOHYDRATES – Albeit from natural sources, white flour and added sugars are not the same as their wholesome counterparts. Refined carbs include pastries, many cereals, flour tortillas, breading on fried foods, regular pasta, pretzels, and the ingredient maltodextrin.  Added sugars should comprise no more than 10% calories according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Added sugars can come from sugars (any kind; usually end in “ose”), syrups, glazes, honey, fruit juice concentrate, and molasses in products such as candy, desserts, soft drinks, and sweetened cereals.

ALCOHOL – A moderate consumption of ethanol-containing beverages means 1 drink per day for men and no more than 2 drinks per day for women. A serving size depends on the beverage’s alcohol percentage: 1.5 oz liquor (80 proof = 40% alcohol); 5 oz wine (12% alcohol); 12 fl oz beer (5% alcohol).

Sources:

American Heart Association

  1. http://heartinsight.heart.org/Summer-2015/How-Do-I-Increase-My-Good-Cholesterol/
  2. http://www.my.americanheart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_425988.pdf

Web MD

  1. https://www.webmd.com/heart/how-to-boost-your-good-cholesterol
  2. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/lowering-triglyceride-levels#1

Mayo Clinic

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/hdl-cholesterol/art-20046388
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Breakfast for Vegans

Breakfast for Vegans

Question:

My question is about breakfast for vegans. I’m avoiding carbs, grains, gluten. I don’t eat bread, pasta, grains. What would you recommend for breakfast?

– Siposs V.

Answer:

Think outside the breakfast box when it comes to morning meals with selective ingredients! You can adapt traditional breakfast foods by substituting for the grains or transform meals otherwise considered for lunch/dinner.

Some tasty options for a vegan grain-free breakfast include:

  • coconut milk and chia seed pudding
  • fruit and soy yogurt smoothie
  • potato and spinach hashbrown patties
  • sweet potato bowl with pomegranate arils and pecans
  • nut date coconut bar
  • avocado and black bean salad with grilled tomatoes

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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How to Stop Retaining Water

How to Stop Retaining Water

Question:

How can I stop retaining water? I am constantly bloated and cannot lose weight. What are some suggestions?

– Leslie

Answer:

To stop retaining water, decrease bloat and reduce water weight I’d recommend three basic actions: limit higher sodium foods, hydrate well and avoid known gas-forming foods.

SODIUM

Sodium in salt and other preservatives makes the body hold water within tissues instead of inside cells where it should be. Cut back on pre-packaged foods (like frozen items and restaurant meals) and highly processed items (like condiments and engineered products). Potassium helps water get inside cells and stay there. Get plenty of potassium from good sources like avocado, winter squash, bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes.

HYDRATION

Your body may be less likely to hold onto water if there is plenty of it flowing freely. By drinking more fluids and eating water-filled foods, you may be less likely to retain water and more apt to flush out sodium, keep cells hydrated and achieve proper digestion. Watermelon and cucumbers are not only watery, they contain anti-inflammatory compounds to fight swelling. Sip on debloating teas made with mint or spices like cinnamon and ginger.

GAS PRODUCTION

Have smaller portions of gas forming foods that are cooked well. Chew them slowly & thoroughly. High fiber foods (like beans and broccoli), dairy products, and sorbitol – a sugar alcohol found in chewing gum and fruits (like apples, peaches, and pears) could all be bloated belly culprits.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Sugar-Free Baking with The Sugar Alcohol Erythritol

Sugar-Free Baking with The Sugar Alcohol Erythritol

Question:

What do you know about the sugar alcohol erythritol? I’m looking to use it in sugar-free sweets this holiday.

– Candice C.

Answer:

Sugar alcohols (also known as polyols) are low-digestible carbohydrates, meaning that they are incompletely digested or absorbed in the small intestine then are at least partially fermented in the colon. Chemically a hydrogenated monosaccharide, erythritol is technically not a true sugar or an alcohol.  Erythritol is absorbed but is not fully metabolized enabling it to yield only 0.2 Cals/gram1. Erythritol is excreted intact in the urine, meaning it travels from gut to blood to kidneys unchanged. Um, you decide if that’s good or bad…

Erythritol is mainly derived from GMO cornstarch and is also natural-occurring in some other plants, fruit (like watermelon, pear, and grapes), mushrooms and fermented foods. In food products (often sugar-free foods) it can be used alone but is often found in combination with other polyols or non-nutritive sweeteners. For example, erythritol (along with rebiana) is a component of the sweetener TruviaTM. Erythritol would be part of the sugar alcohols section under carbohydrates in a Nutrition Facts panel of a food label. Erythritol is considered to have zero calories while other sugar alcohols have about half the calories of sugar1. Note that some lower-sugar foods have increased fat content for palatability2.

The US FDA determined that erythritol is Generally Recognized as Safe, as of 2001. The American Diabetes Association states, “Sugar alcohols and nonnutritive sweeteners are safe when consumed within the daily intake levels established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)2.” The estimated daily intake of erythritol is 1 gram per day and an estimated tolerable intake range of 10-20 grams per day 1,3.

Erythritol does not appear to affect blood sugar levels4. Other erythritol benefits for those with diabetes include no contribution to dental caries, lower laxative effect than other sugar alcohols, and slower digestion (lower glycemic). Sugar alcohols have not been proven effective in the management of weight3. And keep in mind that it’s overall carbohydrate consumption, not just sugar, that has the biggest impact on blood sugar management1.

In the kitchen, erythritol can’t be used in a weight for weight replacement for table sugar as erythritol has 60-80% the sweetness of sucrose3. You can use erythritol in a variety of food applications but know that sugar alcohols don’t have the same microbial inhibition, browning, or crystallization properties as table sugar. Unlike non-nutritive sweeteners, erythritol offers bulk and stabilization which helps with structure or viscosity of the finished product. It also acts as a humectant to retain moisture. Sounds to me like you need to know a bit about food chemistry to get an ideal result if you aren’t following a tested recipe!

References

  1. Low-Digestible Carbohydrates in Practice. HA Grabitske and JL Slavin. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Oct 2008; 108(10: 1677-1682.
  2. Sugar Substitutes: Useful Ingredients in Effective Diabetes Management. CL Seher. Today’s Dietitian, Nov 2010; 12(11):12-14.
  3. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, May 2012; 112 (5): 739-757.
  4. Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes, a position statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, 2008 Jan; 31(Supplement 1): S61-78.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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