An Introduction to Quantified Nutrition

What if I told you that just counting your calories was not the best way for you to reach your wellness goals? Would you believe me?

How come every time new diets come out (and you may or may not try them), the fad lasts a few months maybe a few years, then those people on the bandwagon have all yo-yod and are now on the next big diet?

What if I told you there was a better way?

Would you believe me?

It takes work, which, trust me, as a busy mom, I TOTALLY sigh and think,

Quantified Nutrition doesn't have to make you run and hide
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you can’t start a Quantified Nutrition Plan

BUT, and here’s the coolest part, what if what I want to share with you is completely 100% backed by science and can be achieved without the help of a nutritionist or certified personal trainer, it can 100% be accomplished by yourself? That’d be pretty cool, right?

Technically, you could bust out the old calculator or spreadsheet, but there are so many apps these days that do the heavy lifting, so why not enlist the help of technology. (We will get into the calculations in the next post.)

You are probably like, Why haven’t I heard of this before? I mean, I’ve heard of the cabbage soup diet, the 3-day heart diet, the Keto diet, the Zone diet, the cookie diet (just kidding about that, but it’s one I’d definitely sign up for!) :) It’s not a secret perse, in fact if you have heard of things like, “macro nutrients” then you probably have heard of Quantified Nutrition, you just didn’t know it.

That secret is called Quantified Nutrition.

Quantified Nutrition uses the science behind the food that we consume and its effect on our bodies. One of the primary focal points of quantified nutrition is on 3 main components of our foods, or nutrients, otherwise called Macronutrients (or Macros) and how they build up the total caloric intake of our daily food.

Macros are the main building blocks of our food and include Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates.

It is the combination of these macros that make up our total caloric intake, and believe it or not, the proper combination can help make or break your journey to improved wellness. Think about it: You could eat 2000 calories of cake for a whole day (which wouldn’t be that much) OR you could eat 2000 calories of a mix of fruits, veggies, protein and carbohydrates (Which would amount to, in terms of mass, a LOT more food). On most days, I’m going to opt for more food…MOST days. ;)

Did you know that each macros nutrient has its own calorie counts?

Carbohydrates and protein each have 4 calories per gram.

Fat has 9 calories per gram.

That means, without looking at the rest of the label of a food label, you can tell what the macro breakdown is, by remembering that Fat grams hold 9 Calories each and Carbs and Protein each have 4. We will do more calculations in the next post.

No Math today!

The biggest take away from this section is the fact that you can eat almost twice the amount in total weight (grams) of Protein and Carbs for equal calories compared to fats.

That brings up a very important fact.

We need fat.

The Human Body Needs Fat.

In the 1960s studies started being released talking about a reduction in fat to help reduce cholesterol. By the 1980s, physicians all over the U.S. were saying everyone should reduce their fat intake. The push away from fats has had a direct impact to our waistlines, with obesity levels skyrocketing since the 80s.

I was a child of the 80s, and I have distinct memories of my mother following the doctor’s recommendations to reduce fat, so she did what every other mother in the 80s did, we stopped eating eggs as much, we switched to margarine, we started eating snacks with lower fat, and drinking “sugar free” things. This was what was “healthier.”

I continued this trend of “healthy eating” for most of my adult life, somewhat intrinsically, always knowing fat = bad, sugarfree/low fat = good. I was never much of one to diet, one day I will tell you about my failed attempt at following keto, but this idea of healthy eating was how I structured my own household meals and snacks.

Fast forward to about 5 years ago, I had a 6 month old baby girl whom I exclusively breastfed. She was the fattest little thing you have ever seen and completely 100% healthy.

Here’s a funny story, and one that made me start to question the “American healthy lifestyle.”

My mother in law never really nursed (because that was another crazy fad that happened back in the 60s, 70s and 80s about formula being healthier than breast milk…) so when it was her turn to babysit my sweet chubby cheeked little angel, she called me and said there was something wrong with the milk I had left her. (I had just pumped it right before leaving the house, so there was nothing wrong with it.) She said it had already separated, and she didn’t feel comfortable giving it to my daughter.

I laughed and said, “that’s the fat. I make fatty milk. Fat is good for her brain development, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m gonna have a freaking genius.”

That one conversation totally changed my thinking about food.

If fat was good for baby brain development, why was it bad for my own brain health?

I didn’t do much with this certifiable “ah ha” moment, other than start to eat more nuts and really embrace butter. However, a few months ago, I was recruited to become a certified personal trainer with an emphasis on nutrition and suddenly I was learning all about the importance of fat.

Fat takes up more space than muscles

Although most people are seeking to lose a few lbs (some do want to gain weight), I am almost positive that most people do not want to lose muscle.

Muscle is what keeps us trim and toned & muscle helps to protect our structure (anyone have back pain?!?–strong stomach and back muscles can help with that! Guess what, I even have some free videos that can help for you too!) Although it is more dense than fat, muscle takes up less space than fat pound for pound.

If you do a calorie restricted diet, and do not supply the right nutrients, then guess what is part of the loss in weight?

You guessed it, muscle.

Sure, you may lose some fat in the process (and water) but unless you monitor your macros correctly, some of the weight loss will be in your muscles.

Want to know something else really cool about muscles?

Muscles burn more calories than fat.

So, not only do muscles take up less space than fat, they also burn more calories than fat. So, if you lose fat and gain muscle, you’ll burn more calories and be smaller. (isn’t that what MOST of us want in our journey for fitness?)

I have one full disclosure moment for you though:

Muscle weighs more than fat.

Going back to the Baltimore Fishbowl article mentioned above, 1 liter of fat weighs in at 1.98 lbs whereas 1 liter of muscle weighs 2.3 lbs.

That means you could be losing fat, minding your calories, but gaining weight because your muscles are growing.

That is why having a weekly check in with measurements is so important. You don’t have to weigh yourself everyday. Personally, I think the scales are little devils. What you don’t want to miss are the measurements. That will tell you if you’re going in the right direction, or if you need to modify your plan.

Stay tuned for the next post, where we break down the calculations for your own specific Macronutrient needs following the scientific Quantified Nutrition plan. Yes, there is some math (so don’t glaze over!) but I promise, if you stick with me, you’ll find out a little more about your food (1) and how to put this information into an app to make your life a little easier.

If you’re interested in learning more about Quantified Nutrition, come join this free Facebook group I’m a member of called Fitness and Nutrition. It’s completely free and full of people on the same journey to health and wellness as you are! Inside the group, you have access to the calculations you need to come up with your own nutrition plan. (notice I didn’t say diet plan!) If you’d rather work with me one on one with this, get your personalized diet plan, some strength training regimes (most with yoga focus of course) and more, be sure to check out my very own Thrive Elite program or drop me an email to see how you can get started today! It’s personal training redefined.

Stay tuned for more information about Quantified Nutrition right here with Thrive Yoga and Wellness and me, Jennifer Dixon ERYT 500, Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher and Certified Personal Trainer.