nutrition

Nutrition Numbers to Live By

They can help you plan your meals, build muscle, and prevent soreness.

Most athletes train by the numbers: They keep track of their reps, sets, and workouts per week. This line of thinking can apply to your diet, too. Here, the figures you need to know to protect your heart health, ease muscle soreness, and more.   

10%: Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of total calories for the day for heart health. For an 1,800-calorie-a-day diet, that’s 45 grams or less. Common sources of this artery-clogging fat include red meat, coconut oil, cheese, butter, and heavy cream.

2: Consider increasing your protein intake to two grams per kilogram of body weight per day. That amount has been shown to increase muscular power and strength.

80%: For a diet that strikes a balance between healthy and satisfying, get 80 percent of your calories from nutritious whole foods. You can save the remaining 20 percent for splurges. Spread out that amount over the course of two or three meals each week, says Amy Goodson, RD, a sports dietitian in Dallas.

12 or 17: Linoleic acid is a type of healthy omega-6 fat found in vegetable oils and unsalted nuts and seeds. Research shows that people who had the highest levels of linoleic acid in their blood were 43 percent less likely to die from any disease, including heart disease or cancer, compared to those with the lowest level. Women should eat 12 grams a day, while men need 17 grams. A tablespoon of sunflower oil contains 10 grams.

1,000: Get at least 1,000 units of vitamin D per day. When combined with eight hours of sleep per night, you’re less likely to experience aches, pains, and muscle soreness, says internist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Pain Free 1, 2, 3

15
: Chew each bite at least 15 times. This ensures the food is the right size and encourages proper digestion, says Tracy Lockwood, RD, a New York City-based nutritionist. Eating too quickly can lead to overindulging, bloating, and GI distress. It also forces your body to work harder to break down those nutrients, so you won’t absorb as many as a result.