Nutrition For Beginners

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Nutrition 101: The Basics

If you’re finding yourself on this page, chances are that you’re brand new to nutrition and that you don’t know where to start learning. The good news – you’ve come to the right place.

Your Cronometer app will provide a plethora of information on nutrition but we’ll go over the basics in the sections below. Read along to get started on your nutrition learning journey!

What Are Macros?

Macronutrients include protein, fat, and carbohydrates. They can be thought of as the building blocks of food and your diet. Sometimes, a certain food is highest in one macronutrient. For example, meats and soy products are often higher in protein than in fat or carbohydrates. Bread, rice, and oats can be thought of as carbohydrate foods. Olive oil, butter, and cheese are high-fat foods.

Macronutrients are the components of foods that contain energy in the form of calories. We can estimate the amount of calories each gram of macronutrient has:

  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
  • Protein: 4 calories per gram
  • Fat: 9 calories per gram

This means that for every 1 gram of carbohydrate, there are about 4 calories.

What Are Micros?

Micronutrients (or “micros”) include vitamins and minerals. They don’t contain calories but our bodies need them for growth, development, metabolism, and immune function. Each micronutrient does something different, and many work together to ensure body processes are happening normally.

When you add food into your Cronometer account, you’ll be able to see how much of each vitamin (like vitamin C, E and D) and mineral (like calcium, magnesium and iron) you’re getting through your diet. If you take multi-vitamins, you can add this into Cronometer as well the same way you would add a food.

What Are Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)?

As you track your food in Cronometer, we show what you’ve consumed out of the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for that nutrient. The DRIs Cronometer uses include the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level), and AI (Adequate Intake).

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is the average daily level that is enough to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (>97%) healthy individuals in a particular life-stage and gender group. If there is not enough evidence to establish an RDA, an Adequate Intake (AI) is recommended instead, based on the best data available at this time.

Some nutrients also have a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) defined. This is the maximum amount of a nutrient that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects. Regularly consuming a nutrient above this level may result in toxicity symptoms associated with that nutrient.

These values help put your daily intake into context of the DRIs, but remember you can customize all nutrient targets in Cronometer to meet your individual needs. Learn how to customize your nutrient targets on our mobile app or on our desktop app.

By upgrading to Cronometer Gold, you can gain access to our Nutrition Scores feature, which group together nutrients by their roles, making keeping track of hitting your nutrient targets easy and fun! Some Nutrition Scores we feature are Metabolism Support, Bone Health, Antioxidants, Keto Score, and the Plant-Based Score. Using these scores is a great way to learn about nutrition and your personal eating habits!

Targets: Where Should I Start?

In Cronometer, the default macro settings are:

  • Protein targets set to 25% of your daily calories
  • Carbs set to 45%
  • Fat set to 30%

We set your carbs to be tracked as Net Carbs (which is grams of total carbohydrates minus grams of fiber). You can read more about tracking carbs here.

These recommendations were designed to give most people enough essential nutrients in their diet and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Like most things in Cronometer, this can be fully customized to your needs. Learn how to customize your nutrient targets on our mobile app or on our desktop app. We recommend working with a medical or nutrition professional (like a Registered Dietitian) to personalize your targets further.

Accuracy Is The Key To Success!

If you’re already a Cronometer user, you may already know that we pride ourselves on being the most accurate nutrition tracker on the market. Our nutrition data is pulled from verified, lab-analyzed sources such as the NCCDB or the USDA, while most of our competitors will allow their users to submit food entries to their databases for public use, making tracking your nutrition accurately extremely difficult. 

Our goal at Cronometer is to give you a tool that you can use to easily and effectively track your nutrition in order to meet your goals – whatever they may be! We thrive on accuracy from our end, but we can only do so much to ensure the data you’re seeing is correct. You’ll need to make sure you’re doing a couple things on your end to make sure of that as well!

Serving Sizes

For many, figuring out how much you’re eating can be the trickiest part of tracking. It will be a major differentiator in actually achieving your goals or feeling like you’re spinning your wheels and seeing no progress. Sure, you can weigh your food with a scale or measure out each food, but not everyone has the time, desire, or need to do so.

When you’re getting started and into the habit of tracking, using a visual guide to estimate portion sizes can be a great way to get the ball rolling. We like this one:

nutrition serving size guide

Food Entry Selection

Additionally, using text-based searches (ie. type in the food you’re looking for as opposed to using the barcode scanner) to look for foods you’re eating will help you find the entries with the most serving sizes and nutrients. Food entries from the NCCDB or USDA will have a full nutrient breakdown. Where as if you use the barcode scanner or choose a branded food item, it will only give you a snapshot of what’s actually in the food you’re eating. You can learn more about getting great data in this short article

Tracking your diet can range from weighing and measuring everything you eat to using a technique like visually estimating your meals to log them – any way you do it, you’re learning more about your diet, your body, and your health! 

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