National Nutrition Week: Navigating Nutrition in the Age of Tech
Here's a handy guide to navigating nutrition in the age of information overload.
Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, Vegan, Dukan or Atkin’s. No matter what diet you want to follow or if you’re simply trying to eat healthy, there are a million apps that can help you in your journey.
Staying fit has never been this easy with all the tools and information at your disposal.
However, an overload of information can also easily become very confusing to someone who is just starting off on their fitness journey.
Nutrition, along with good workouts and sleep form the core of a fit lifestyle.
Arguably, nutrition is the most important pillar among the three. Over the years, research has shown that nutrition is not just about calories, it is also about what constitutes those calories.
An average sized apple has roughly 1.5 tablespoons of sugar and comparable number of calories, but we now know that having an apple is much healthier than having a heaped spoon of sugar.
For the longest time, such finicky eating was confined to elite athletes or severely ill patients. It was a cumbersome task to measure calories and nutrients in every meal.
However, apps have now made it as easy as the press of a button. It is very important to understand that every person has unique dietary needs.
In a family, a mother’s dietary needs will be vastly different than her teenage son’s or daughter’s requirements.
Thus, the old beliefs of no more than 2 chapatis or 1 bowl of rice might actually do you more harm than good.
Once we understand the daily nutritional, we can use apps to stay healthy. Here are 5 ways you can use apps to use nutrition as a weapon in your crusade for fitness
Apps such as My Fitness Pal and other trackers have stored the nutritional information of a huge catalogue of food items which even include some Indian staples such as Amul Butter.
The app allows you to enter the number of spoons, cups or grams of ingredient you used in a particular meal and not only tells you exactly how many calories it has.
This allows you to maintain your daily calorie limits which is essential in any fitness regime.
While nutrition apps are essential for restrictive diets such as the ketogenic diet which allows only 5 percent of your diet to be carbohydrates, it is also important to understand what nutrients you are consuming even on a standard diet.
Even the most basic apps will tell you how much carbohydrates, protein or fats you are consuming daily.
This allows you to eat more mindfully and allows for course correction. It’s not just about having boiled vegetables for three days just because you had a scoop of ice cream for one meal.
Once you know the exact ‘damage’ that the scoop of ice cream has done, you’ll be able to correct it right away without guilt and remorse dictating your food choices.
Once we understand what we’re eating and how much of it we’re eating, we can use the data to understand patterns.
Instead of wondering why you feel groggy and sleepy after lunch everyday, you can have the tracking apps tell you that this is because of a dependence on carbohydrate-heavy lunches such as starchy rice and vegetables.
Once you have the information at your disposal, you can consult a nutritionist to make changes in your diet to achieve desired results.
However, such changes are very hard to implement and the effects of the changes are difficult to monitor unless you are tracking the nutrients closely.
In the modern era, scientists are discovering that fitness is not just about what you eat, it’s also about when you eat.
To be fair, intuitive knowledge around timing meals has been present since ancient times as evidenced by the adage, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
While that proverb has its merits, recent studies have suggested that interim fasting has multiple health benefits as well.
Interim fasting is more concerned about how your body reacts to and giving your body time to react to everything you eat.
This directly affects the endocrinological makeup pf your body. Multiple fasting tracker apps have alerts and timers that not only tell you how long you’ve fasted for but also inform you of the physiological process your body is undergoing at that instance.
The importance of staying hydrated is probably one of the few things that most scientists agree upon. Although there is a debate regarding overhydrating, the lack of hydration poses far more serious challenges.
An easy way to ensure you’re hydrated is to through apps which not only remind you to drink water but also tell you ho much water you should be drinking through the day.
It might take some time for us to get used to a healthy lifestyle. Often times, we lose motivation at the start because things seem to difficult or overwhelming.
However, these apps helps us stay organized and informed which serves to enrich our fitness journey.
(The author is a lawyer turned business intelligence consultant turned chef. He also designs weekly and monthly meal plans for clients and conducts baking and cooking workshops.)
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