Nutrients: It’s Not Just Calories That Matter

More than ever before, there is infinite information available on healthy nutrition and dieting. 

Some diets claim that “counting calories” is the most important thing you can do to lose weight (or gain weight if that is your goal). 

Other diets have elaborate point systems that give you points for eating certain foods and subtract points by eating other foods.

Other diets have restrictive lists of foods that you are not allowed to eat.

At Tari App, we believe that maintaining a healthy diet is not challenging if you know the basics. So let’s cover the most basic lesson: 

Your body needs energy and nutrients

Energy: Your body needs fuel to wake up, think, eat, digest, move, exercise, live, laugh, and love. Everything you do requires energy. We get energy by eating food. 

The energy our body uses is measured in “calories.” Our bodies need calories (energy) regardless of whether these calories come from “good foods” or “bad foods.” (Later, check out our article on “Good Foods, Bad Foods, and Ugly Foods

 Over time, if we eat more calories than we burn, we gain weight. Conversely, if we burn more calories than we eat, we lose weight. Check out our article on calorie counting for more information. 

Nutrients: To a certain extent, when it comes to calories, our bodies do not care what we eat as long as we provide it enough energy to live. But that all changes when it comes to nutrients… 

When it comes to nutrients, it’s what you eat that matters. 

Let’s give an example. 

Your body uses Zinc, a mineral nutrient to help your immune system function properly. Well let’s say, your body encounters a virus and your immune system goes to work fighting that virus. During that process, your immune system yells, “Hey! We need some Zinc over here!” 

Well, if you have not eaten the right foods that contain Zinc, your immune system does not have what it needs to protect you from the virus and you may get sick. 

The good news is that you do not need to track each nutrient every day. That would be exhausting! 

The best thing you can do to ensure you are getting enough of each nutrient… is to eat a well-balanced, variable diet so that you are exposed to a wide-range of nutrients. 

In addition to eating a well-balanced diet, a daily multivitamin is a great way to ensure you are getting essential vitamins and minerals. Although a multivitamin should never be taken as a replacement to real food, it can be a helpful safety net. 

While it’s good to know that nutrients are important, it is also good to know what the different types of nutrients are! Nutrients are broken down into four categories: 

1. Water 

Water is the most critical nutrient. Did you know your body is made up of at least 60% water?! 

Each individual is different when it comes to necessary water intake. A good rule of thumb is the “8×8” rule which outlines drinking eight, eight ounce glasses of water per day (2 liters or 2 quarts). Some individuals may require more water per day.  

2. Macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Fat, Protein) 

The three macronutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, are the nutrients your body needs in large amounts. 

Carbohydrates are your primary source of energy. Fats also serve as an energy source as well as helping in the production of hormones. Proteins are used for tissue creation and repair. Hair, muscles, and digestive enzymes all require protein.

Getting the right amount and the correct balance of each macronutrient is important. For more information on macronutrients, check out our article: “Meet The Macros.”

3. Vitamins 

Vitamins are classified as a micronutrient and are organic compounds necessary for reproduction, growth, and maintenance of the body.3 You have likely heard of important vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, or Folic Acid. 

4. Minerals

Minerals are also classified as a micronutrient and are inorganic compounds needed for growth and regulation of body processes.3 You have likely heard of important minerals like Calcium, Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. 

The best things you can do to ensure you are getting a proper mix of nutrients it to: 

  • Drink at least 64 oz of water per day.  
  • Eat a well-balanced, variable diet. 
  • Take a multivitamin.

In addition to these healthy behaviors, Tari App helps you track calories, water intake, macronutrients, and micronutrients. 

A food logging habit, if even used for a short term period of time, can provide valuable insights into the nutrients your body is receiving on a daily basis. This data allows you to make healthy adjustments to ensure you are getting proper nutrition. 

References 

  1. https://mynutrition.wsu.edu/nutrition-basics/
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/listing_of_vitamins
  3. Definitions from Insel, Ross, McMahon, & Bernstein, Nutrition, 5th Ed., 2014)
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