A few years ago, I watched the movie "Super Size Me - a documentary comedy from 2004, in which Morgan Spurlock decides to eat only in McDonald's for three months - a typical fast food. Before starting the experiment, he does thorough medical examinations, and during the experiment, he regularly consults - to keep track of possible changes.

I do not want to spoil the pleasure of watching those who decide to "dig out the film, write only that although it is actually funny when watching (documentary comedy), at the end I did not dare. After the unquestionable success of this screening, McDonald's had to change his image, introduced more salads, an apple to the children's kit and clear information about the calorie content of each dish sold.

Counting calories, especially among those who want to lose weight, almost grows into a myth. People with calculators in their hands count the previously weighed products, compare them with the average calorific value of a given ingredient and finally compare with the average daily requirement of your body. The goal is apparent, a simple energy balance principle works here, if we deliver fewer calories to the body than we consume - we lose weight, otherwise, we gain weight.

In the frenzy of counting calories, hardly anyone pains and the question about the "quality of calories consumed. This is similar to the situation with McDonald's, which adding information about the calorie content of highly processed sandwiches calmed the growing wave of indignation because we do not eat too many calories! This approach has nothing to do with healthy eating, it's just "sweeping the carpet.

I do not question the necessity of consuming calories - it is the life energy, the fuel necessary for proper functioning, but in addition to calories to maintain health and vitality, we need a whole range of micronutrients. Therefore, by choosing the sources of our energy - macronutrients - we should take care to provide microorganisms that are necessary for healthy nutrition.

Considered the most essential ingredient of food, they are the basic building blocks of muscle mass, but you will also find them in the teeth, hair, and internal organs. Also, they are necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system - they are part of antibodies and enzymes.

Proteins consist of amino acids (bricks) - the human body uses 20 different amino acids. After ingesting proteins, the digestive system breaks them down into "building blocks" and stores them until it needs a type of protein. Then it binds them again creating the proteins that are necessary at the moment - it's very cleverly invented by itself

Of the 20 amino acids used by the human body, 9 are exogenous. The body can not produce them spontaneously, they must be obtained from food. Therefore, in healthy eating, it is so important to eat wholesome products.

It may come as a surprise that the most valuable sources of protein are not necessarily meat and milk.
Even in products perceived as typical sources of carbohydrates, you will find a substantial portion of protein bananas (5%), potatoes (8%), brown rice (9%). There are even more lentils in legume plants (36%), and in green-leaved vegetables, it is almost 50%!

So why do people think that the primary source of protein is meat?

This is one of the myths in which there is a bit of truth. As I wrote, in healthy nutrition we must have access to all 20 amino acids, including 9 exogenous ones supplied from the outside. Animal protein has all 9 exogenous amino acids at the same time, so it seems to be the best source of them. However, it should be remembered that zoonotic products together with the protein provide harmful saturated fats and cholesterol.

For a change, exogenous amino acids are not included in plant products, however, using a variety of plant products, we will quickly gather all the required "protein bricks". I am not saying that you should give up meat altogether, it is a valuable source of rare vitamins, e.g. B12, but it is definitely not necessary to meet the demand for protein.

Sample content of calories from protein in individual products:

  • spinach 44%
  • broccoli 43.2%
  • lentils 31%
  • whole grain bread 15%
  • barley groats 10%
"Protein is necessary for healthy nutrition, but too much supply is also not recommended. When we overeat protein, we can overload the kidneys, which are responsible for the purification of nitrogen toxins, which arise during its metabolism. Also, it may lead to the formation of kidney stones and other chronic diseases."

In breast milk, which is the natural and most suitable baby food, only 5% of calories are from protein. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that 5-6% of the calories consumed in the daily diet of an adult should come from protein. Accomplishing to this, research results showing that exceeding 10% of daily caloric demand from proteins can start disease processes - we get a safe range of 6-10%.

The good news is that by consuming diverse, natural and unprocessed vegetable products, we provide the body with the optimal amount of protein.

The most important thing is to remember that in a healthy diet every day you need to provide your body with a little fat - healthy fats.

But why? For two reasons at least

A natural question arises about the amount of healthy fat that we should consume. There is no unequivocal visit because it depends on the energy demand of a person, his age, health status, and above all on the quality of consumed fats. It is assumed that 10% of the daily caloric intake supplied from fats is a safe limit. On the one hand, it provides support for the function of vitamin assimilation and supply of essential fatty acids, and on the other hand, does not cause the risk of chronic diseases.

On the other hand, studies are confirming that the consumption of fats derived from wholesome sources (avocado, olives, nuts, seeds) even in the amount of 25% of the daily calories needs does not harm the body. That is why it is so important to choose healthy fats and oils.

Carbohydrates are the fuel of our body, the only one acceptable by our brain. Most of the controversy has accumulated around them. They were almost war-waged looking for them as the main culprit of the obesity epidemic. "Light with low fat and sometimes zero carbohydrates" products have been created and are still being produced, where sugar is replaced with synthetic sweeteners.

In fact, high-protein diets based on processed and refined products may cause obesity, and in the long-term even chronic diseases. However, as it turns out, carbohydrates obtained from natural and nutritious plant products can have different actions.

We divide the carbohydrates into simple and complex ones. The former additionally consist of two mono groups and disaccharides. Monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose) can be found mainly in fruits, honey and corn syrup. Disaccharides (sucrose, lactose and maltose) are located in table sugar (sucrose and maltose) and milk, respectively (lactose).

Complex carbohydrates are polysaccharides and are divided into starch and insoluble fibre (resistant starch). Starch is an excellent source of healthy carbs, it is ubiquitous in plants, mainly in grains and roots. You will find it in wheat, potatoes, maize, barley, rice, peas, oats and the age of others. Resistant starch (fibre) is not digested, passing through the digestive system binds toxins and heavy metals (facilitates purification), and regulates the absorption of nutrients.

In the context of carbohydrates, the term glycemic index often appears. This is a measure initially developed for the needs of diabetics, which on a scale of 1 to 100 grades sources of carbohydrates depending on how quickly after their consumption in the blood increases the level of sugar. The higher the index, the faster the product releases starches into the blood. In a healthy diet you should choose products with the lowest glycemic index, thanks to which the energy from the food consumed will be released gradually.

It's time to deal with the myths about the effects of consuming proteins, fats and carbohydrates on the risk of obesity and what may be associated with chronic diseases. The vast majority of problems with overweight and issues with digestion are due to the consumption of highly processed products: white flour and sugar, refined fat, purified salt, highly processed protein (especially zoonotic).

Healthy eating is primarily the consumption of low-processed products. These include whole grains, unrefined fats and natural sweeteners. These products together with protein, fat and carbohydrates provide vitamins and minerals to the body. Natural, wholesome products usually have a low glycemic index, additionally, due to the fibre consumed, your digestive tract is working correctly and you feel longer for longer.

All refined products should be avoided - white sugar, flour, purified salt, crystal clear refined oil. Also, you should limit the products to which sugar, salt, oil or synthetic antioxidants were added at the stage of preparation for sale. Food processing is designed to facilitate its transport, storage and development. Unfortunately, after all these treatments we get products with low nutritional density (the ratio of nutrients to compact calories) and usually a high glycemic index. Eating such products, we deliver to the body practically empty calories (a lot of energy, and a low amount of nutrients), which are quickly absorbed causing the deposition of fatty tissue and re-hunger pangs.

For a change, a diet based on unprocessed vegetable products is rich in nutritious micronutrients and antioxidants that protect your body against free radicals. Also, thanks to the high content of fibre and the low glycemic index, the food is digested more slowly, and the energy obtained from it is gradually released into the body. This prevents sudden attacks of hunger and promotes the normalisation of body weight. Therefore, in a diet based on natural products, which reigns with fresh green vegetables, you can really forget about counting calories and focus on the pleasure of eating.