Return to Main Menu
Understand components of nutrition
Stop by Health 1st’s Wellness Wednesday
table in the Children’s Hospital lobby between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. June
18 for information on personal nutrition needs from a registered
We all are different, as our our nutrition needs. Registered dietitians
(RD) are the nutrition experts and can help you estimate your nutrition
needs while explaining the nutrients and their effects on your body.
Without a reference, it’s hard to know when you’re looking at a
nutrition facts label, and what is a lot or a little of the nutrients
It is easier and information is more accurate when a nutrition expert,
such as a registered dietitian, performs a nutritional assessment,
since they can factor in important considerations such as weight loss,
diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.
Below, are the various components to consider in determining a proper
and healthy diet.
Calories are the measurement of the energy produced by food in
digestion, and the energy our body uses to function. If we consume more
calories than our body uses, we will gain weight. Conversely, if we
consume fewer calories than our body uses, we will lose weight. If we
burn the same amount of calories we consume, our weight will stay the
Calculating an individual’s calorie requirements can be tricky. Ways to
directly measure a person’s calorie needs while at rest (Bod Pod,
underwater weighing, metabolic cart, etc.), are not always available
and can be expensive. Another way is to use a calculation that
estimates your calorie needs based on your height, weight and age. This
calculation is pretty close to direct measurements, but activity level
also must be factored in, which can be tough since it relies on an
educated guess. Again, this is where an RD can help.
The commonly used equation for estimating calorie needs at rest for
adults (Harris-Benedict Equation) is:
Women: 655 + 9.56 (weight in kilograms) + 1.85 (height in
Men: 66.5 + 13.75 (weight in kilograms) + 5.0 (height in
Fat has gotten a bad reputation throughout the years. Too much fat is
not healthy, but getting enough good unsaturated fat can protect
against heart disease and other health problems. These are found in
foods like olive oil, nuts, flaxseed oil, etc. The not-so-good fats are
saturated. We need some fat in our diet to help us transport and absorb
fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, and K). Most of us don’t have a problem
getting enough fat, but rather too much of it. Based on your calorie
needs, a healthy diet for a healthy adult would include about 30
percent from fat.
Because 1 gram of fat has 10 calories, then:
48 grams has 1,600 calories
54 grams = 1,800 calories
60 grams = 2,000 calories, and
66 grams = 2,200 calories
For nutrition facts label readers, a quick way to find out if something
is too high in fat or not (based on the 30 percent recommendation),
consider the following:
Take the calories from fat grams and multiply them by 3. Compare that
number to the total calories. If it’s higher, that item is too high in
fat. (This formula will not work with things like peanut butter,
mayonnaise, salad dressing, cheese, olive oil, etc., since these foods
primarily contain fats.
We need some saturated fat in our diet, but very little. Too much
saturated fat can cause our body to produce more cholesterol than it
needs, which can build up and form plaque on the walls our vascular
system. Healthy adults need less than 10 percent of calories from
saturated fat (remember that 1 gram of fat has 10 calories). The fat
gram-to-calorie equivalent is starkly different for saturated fats:
16 grams of saturated fat contains 1,600 calories
18 grams = 1,800 calories
20 grams = 2, 000 calories
22 grams = 2,200 calories
Trans fats are rarely found in nature. The major source of these fats
is through a process called hydrogenation that was created to make
products more shelf-stable. Trans fats are not good for our bodies.
Trans fats also cause our body to produce more cholesterol than it
needs, which can clog our blood vessels and arteries. In addition,
trans fats themselves can stick in your blood vessel walls, increasing
your risk for heart disease or stroke. Trans fats should be avoided.
Healthy adults should eat no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.
Because cholesterol is found only in animal-sourced foods, don’t expect
to find it in fruits, vegetables or whole grains.
Too much sodium can increase blood pressure in salt-sensitive people.
Healthy adults should consume the least amount of salt possible and no
more than 2,400 mg per day. A teaspoon of table salt has about 2,300
mg, so we should try to limit the salt we add in cooking and at the
table. People with certain health conditions may need to decrease their
sodium intake even further.
Fiber is important for our bodies, because it helps us stay regular,
inhibits colon disease, and it also can help lower blood cholesterol.
If your daily diet includes whole grains and at least five servings of
fruits and vegetables, you’re probably doing fine with your fiber
needs. Otherwise, healthy adults should include in their diets a
minimum of 20-35 grams of fiber per day, or 11.5 grams per 1,000
Protein plays many important roles in our body. Most of us get plenty
of protein, and more likely, more than we need. Too much protein can
also be stored as fat in the body. Adults are recommended to have 0.8
grams of protein per kilogram body weight. One ounce of red meat
contains 7 grams of protein. A 3-ounce chicken breast, about the size
of a deck of cards, provides about 21 grams of protein.
A registered dietitian will be available June 18 during Wellness
Wednesday in the Children’s Hospital lobby, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Brief assessments of personal nutritional needs will be provided.
More information can be obtained from Outpatient Nutrition Services, or
by visiting http://www.nutrition.musc.edu.
Editor's note: The preceding
column was brought to you on behalf of Health 1st. Striving to bring
various topics and representing numerous employee wellness
organizations and committees on campus, this weekly column seeks to
provide MUSC, MUHA and UMA employees with current and helpful
information concerning all aspects of health.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly,
as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public
for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of
Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at
or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Editorial copy can be submitted to
Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to
email@example.com. To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island
Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.