SmartStrength Nutrition

The Basics: Building Blocks of Nutrition

  • Basic Definitions

    Nutrition: defined as the sum total of the processes involved in the intake and utilization of food substances by living organisms, including ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, and metabolism of nutrients found in food.
    Nutrient: A specific substance found in food that performs one or more physiological or biochemical functions in the body.

  • Caloric Intake

    When considering nutrition, the most widely tracked and monitored factor is calories. It is the largest and most familiar detail on all food labels. While it is very important to consider how many calories certain food and beverages contain, calories don’t always tell us the full story. Many factors contribute to nutritional value and they have to be assessed so that the individual can see the bigger picture and determine whether the food/beverage is truly a nutritional option.

    Take an avocado for example, foods with a significant amount of healthy fat tend to be more calorically dense, meaning they are pretty high in calories. A medium-sized avocado can be anywhere from 300-350 calories. If an individual is only tracking calories, this may seem like a very high-calorie, “unhealthy” fruit. In reality, the main contributor to these calories is the high fat content, but these are actually healthy, beneficial fats. If the whole picture wasn’t considered in this situation, someone may rule out avocados as having “too many calories” and they could be missing out on including a very healthy fruit in their diet.

    Theoretically, calories are a great numerical value to track and judge certain foods, but as we can see, we must take into account other information listed on nutrition labels.

    Next, let’s take a deeper look at the 3 pieces of information that contribute directly to the overall caloric value, macronutrients.
  • Macronutrients

    Macronutrient:Nutrients that may provide energy and support growth and development of the body tissues, namely carbohydrate, fat, protein, water, and several minerals/electrolytes.

    While macronutrients include fats, proteins, carbohydrates, proteins, water, and minerals/electrolytes, there are really only three of those we take into account when looking at nutritional values and tracking food; Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein. These three nutrients are discussed very often and for a variety of different reasons. You’ve most likely heard of high protein diets for muscle recover and growth, and low-carb or low-fat diets for weight loss. Fats, carbohydrates, and protein can be manipulated in different ways to achieve specific goals.

    Now that we know what a macronutrient is, let’s take a look at how it directly influences the number we typically read on nutrition labels, calories. Each macronutrient gram (fats, carbs, proteins are all measured in grams) holds a certain amount of calories with it that make up the total caloric value of the item. The table below shows the amount of calories that each gram of fat, carbohydrate, or protein provides.
    FATS: 9 Calories per gram
    CARBOHYDRATES: 4 Calories per gram
    PROTEIN: 4 Calories per gram
    Now that we have explored the very basic building blocks of nutrition, and what to specifically look at while reading food labels, let’s move on to how we can apply this to our everyday lives. There are plenty of nutrition plans to follow and we are going to introduce a few, healthy plans.
  • Lifestyle nutrition plans as opposed to “dieting”

  • Balanced Eating/Intuitive Eating

    • Least amount of structure
    • Based on how your body feels and responds
  • Paleo/Clean Eating

    • Structured
    • Whole, unprocessed foods are consumed
    • Very low carb
  • IIFYM/Flexible Dieting

    • Most amount of structure
    • Daily macronutrient goals are determined
    • Tracking of daily intake

    Refer to our Research section in order to learn more
    about these plans from thoroughly scientific-supported websites.


Victoria Biniecki

Victoria has a degree in Exercise Science from Grand Valley State University, and a strong passion for not only exercise but nutrition and wellness as well. She focuses on powerlifting while training in the gym and quickly realized that a strong diet results in a healthier and more effective gym experience. She wants to share this knowledge with others through an online community just as passionate about fitness.

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