Mastering Your Personal Nutrition

What does it mean to eat healthy? Most of us know that we should be eating more salads and fewer McDonald’s hamburgers, but not all of us know why. The reality of nutrition is more complex than just “eat lots of salads,” of course, and the many details can be intimidating to just about anyone who’s not a professional nutritionist.

Yet understanding nutrition has never been more important. We’re living in what is, unfortunately, an unhealthy time for America. Obesity is an epidemic in our country, and the overwhelming majority of American adults are overweight (including those who go beyond being merely overweight and who are obese or morbidly obese). We could be exercising more, but there’s no doubt as to the primary culprit. As a nation, we eat incredibly poorly. Even those of us who think that we’re eating healthy are, studies show, sadly mistaken in most cases.

The solution? Learn. It’s only by learning more about how nutrition actually works that we can become better at meeting our nutritional needs.

Understanding macronutrients

The ins and outs of the many individual vitamins and nutrients that we need to survive and thrive are so complex and so numerous that nobody besides professional nutritionists can really master them (in fact, even professional nutritionists and scientists are still learning new things about vitamins and nutrients — and upending old misconceptions — all the time). But we can and should grasp something bigger and more basic: macronutrients.

There are three macronutrients, each of which is really a category containing other, smaller nutrients of the relevant type. The three are: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Along with calories, these three things are important to monitor. By keeping our macronutrients in balance, we can ensure a healthier diet. An unhealthy diet will tend to have way too much of one or the other (usually carbohydrates and fats) and not enough of another (often, but not always, protein).

Balancing these nutrients properly will help you lose weight. You may also want to tweak the ratio of macronutrients for other purposes, such as putting on muscle over the course of a long-term workout plan.

Smart shortcuts

As we’ll see in a moment, you’ll want to bring in the pros to track micronutrients and individual vitamins. It’s just too involved to manage on your own. Fortunately, some shortcuts will allow you to ensure that your diet is at last approximating a carefully balanced nutrition plan.

The easiest way to cover as many nutritional bases at once as you can is to choose a plant-based whole foods diet. Whole foods are unprocessed foods like vegetables and meats; we trust that you can figure out for yourself what “plant-based” means.

Working with the professionals

Becoming better at meeting your nutritional needs demands some knowledge, but you can get by with some basic information. The thing is, though, that your diet will never be as good as it could be unless you enlist the help of the people who know nutrition best — namely, nutritionists.

Happily, it’s never been easier to connect with a nutritionist. Apps and websites such as HealthSoup exist to connect nutritionists with would-be clients like yourself. Just log on to meet a nutritionist from the comfort of your own home.

With the help of a nutritionist, you can create a healthier meal plan that covers more of the nutrients and vitamins that you might have been missing. Combined with your own improved knowledge and a commitment to eating right, this should help you shed those pounds in the healthiest possible way.