What I Learned in Nutrition – Nutrition & Fitness

I can’t believe next week is the last week of classes for me! My final exam is next Monday! Ahhh! I feel like I learned a lot in my first nutrition class, but some of it was already knowledge to me. 🙂 We didn’t really talk too in-depth about the chapter on Nutrition & Fitness (I wish we had!) but here is what I learned on the little bit we did discuss in class.

There is a difference between physical fitness and physical activity. Physical fitness is considered good health and physical condition and is the result of exercise and proper nutrition. Physical activity refers to body movement that results in expending calories.

Fitness has five basic components:
1. Cardiorespiratory endurance – this is the body’s ability to sustain prolonged exercise
2. Muscle endurance – this is the ability of the muscle to produce prolonged effort
3. Muscle strength – the greatest amount of force exerted by the muscle at one time
4. Flexibility – the joint’s ability to move freely though a full and normal range of motion
5. Body composition – the relative proportion of muscle, fat, water and other tissues in the body

In order to lose weight, you must exercise. To achieve your weight goal, you should exercise at least 60 – 90 minutes a day! Also, you should find activities that you enjoy doing and do them on a regular basis.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy during high-intensity exercise.

Fats are the primary source of energy during low-to-moderate intensity exercise.

Generally, you should have between 40-80 grams of protein a day.


What I Learned in Nutrition – Water

Good afternoon, everyone! Hope you all are having a fabulous Wednesday. Here is another post all about what I’ve been learning in my nutrition class! I’ve been really enjoying this course so far. I can’t believe there are only four weeks left of the semester. I’m going to be taking one summer class (Accounting, bleh!) and in the fall I’m going to be taking Chemistry. Eeek! But I am excited for the challenge, since I always thought Chem was interesting in High School. In case you missed my previous Nutrition Science Posts, you can catch up here:

Nutrition Science

Now, time for Water!!!

Water is an essential nutrient. Even though it doesn’t provide us with energy, it does help with the with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and aids in other body functions such as digestion.

Water is the most abundant substance in the body. Our Bodies are made up of 60% water. Muscles actually contain more water than fat. You can get most of your daily water intake from beverages, while some comes from foods you eat.

  • Water is a universal solvent and a transport medium, meaning, it dissolves substances and transports substances throughout the body.
  • Water helps maintain body temperature by evaporative cooling. Sweating cools the body by evaporating off the skin.
  • Water is a lubricant and a protective cushion. It lubricates joints and also food (by saliva) and helps cushion organs in the body.

When you lose too much water from your body you can become dehydrated. This can result from not drinking enough fluids and/or conditions like vomiting or diarrhea. Ways to tell you are dehydrated:

  • Dry mouth/thirst
  • Dark urine color. Dark urine means you may not be drinking enough water.

Consuming too much water can cause a condition called hyponatremia. This is when there is too little sodium in the blood caused by overhydration.

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Daily Needs

  • Women need to ingest 9 cups of water day, through food and beverage (6-8 glasses of water)
  • Men need to ingest 13 cups of water a day, through food and beverage (6-8 glasses of water)

What I Learned in Nutrition – Vitamins

Vitamins are probably the most confusing part of this course for me. There are so many and they all do different things. Today’s post is about Fat soluble vitamins!

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  • In general, vitamins are one of the three micro-nutrients. The other two are minerals and water
  • All vitamins are essential, meaning we need them in our diet, except for Vitamin D, which we can’t get from our diet naturally
  • There are 13 vitamins
  • Vitamins are either fat soluble or water soluble

Fat Soluble Vitamins

  • These vitamins can be stored in the body, so they are not needed in the diet every day
  • Fat is needed in the diet in order to absorb these vitamins
  • The major fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D, E, and K

Vitamins can be destroyed by air, water and heat! In order to keep the important vitamins in our food:

  1. Do not expose produce to air. Store it in an airtight container
  2. Use little water when cooking or steaming as the vitamins can be lost in the water
  3. Reduce your cooking time
  4. Keep food cool in the fridge or freezer

Some fat soluble vitamins

Vitamin A – Beta-carotene

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  • helps with vision, particularly night vision and how your eyes adapt to light at night
  • comes from carrots, squash, peppers and other bright colored foods, as well as organ meats
  • too much Vitamin A consumption can actually turn a person orange!

Vitamin D – “Sunshine Vitamin”

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  • the body makes Vitamin D through the sunlight
  • helps maintain calcium and phosphorus absorption
  • you should get 45 minutes a day of sun for adequate Vitamin D
  • you can also get Vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk

So, if you eat pretty healthy and you think you’re getting enough vitamins from your diet then you don’t need to take vitamin supplements. I try to take a multivitamin a few times a week on the days I know I won’t be getting all the healthy food I need! Do you get enough vitamins from your diet or do you take vitamin supplements?


What I Learned in Nutrition – Protein

Protein! This subject might be every athlete’s favorite part of nutrition. It is so fascinating to me because especially vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians (like myself) are always concerned: am I getting enough protein? We don’t need nearly enough protein we think we do–because honestly, the American diet is NOT lacking in protein.

Well, here is what I’ve learned about protein itself and how it functions in the body.

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Protein is a functional and structural compound in the body and consists of numerous amino acids is found in all living cells.

Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, they have a nitrogen containing group.

Not only does protein help build muscles but protein also has many other functions

  1. Regulates body processes by building most enzymes and hormones
  2. Provides structural and mechanical support and helps maintain body tissues. (Collagen is a protein!)
  3. Helps maintain a fluid balance in the body
  4. Transports substances throughout the body
  5. Helps maintain an acid-base balance in the body
  6. Can also provide energy, but generally we want energy to come from fat and carbohydrates

Protein quality varies among food sources

  • Quality is based on two factors: digestibility and amino acid content
  • Digestibility is a food’s capacity to be broken down so that it can be absorbed
  • Animal proteins are easier to digest than vegetable proteins
  • Proteins are broken down into amino acids and then absorbed

If you eat too much protein, extra nitrogen is released with water in the urine and you can become dehydrated!

Healthy sources of protein


White meat poultry
Milk, cheese, and yogurt
Beans & legumes
Pork tenderloin
Lean beef

My favorite sources of protein are probably beans and legumes (like chickpeas!), eggs and of course, cheese! What are your favorite sources of protein?