ISSA Chapter 14: Nutrition Foundations
ISSA Chapter 14: Nutrition Foundations 5

Chapter Goals:

  • Name the three macronutrients ad the main functions.
  • Know the general recommendations for macronutrient intake.
  • Define dehydration and explain the general recommendations for intake of water.
  • Be able to discuss the nutritional importance of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Know the general recommendations for the dietary guidelines for Americans.
  • Know the general micronutrient intake recommendations.
  • Be able to discuss nutritional food labels and general portion sizes.
  • Discuss the common diets and eating patterns.


There are three macronutrients required by the body, which are carbs, fats, and proteins.

The Macronutrients are needed in great quantities within the body each and every day.

Catabolism is the breakdown of more complex molecules into more simple molecules, like when protein is broken down to amino acids.

Anabolism is the opposite of catabolism, as this is the building up of simple molecules to form larger ones.


These are the main source of energy for the human body. After digestion, they are processed into glucose, which is converted to energy and used for supporting various metabolic processes including physical and mental activity.

When sugar moves into the cell, blood glucose stabilizes. Glucose is a simple sugar the body uses for energy production at the cellular level.

Glycogen is the stored form of glucose found in the liver and muscles.

Carbs work to protect muscle mass from being catabolized during exercise and fuel the central nervous system and brain.

Simple carbs are simple, short-chain carbs.

Monosaccharides are the simplest form of sugar, and disaccharides are two monosaccharides together.

Processed foods are ones that have been frozen, packaged, and enhanced with vitamins or minerals to preserve them for consumption.

Complex carbs are made out of larger molecules are broken down into monosaccharides.

The glycemic index is a system which looks to rank foods on a scale of 1 – 100 based on their effects on blood sugar levels.

A low GI score is 1 – 55. A medium GI score is 56 – 69. High GI is considered to be 70 or higher.

Foods with higher GI scores will increase insulin levels, which causes hypoglycemia and increased hunger.

Foods with lower GI scores are digested more slowly and do not increase insulin as dramatically.

Obesity is an abnormal or excessive accumulation of body fat that may cause additional health risks.

Diabetes is a condition characterized by an elevated level of glucose in the blood.

When looking at carbs, one of the essential nutrients, and the intake recommendations, we see an ideal intake of 45 – 65 percent of total daily calories coming from carbs.

This means, if you are eating a 2,000 calorie diet, then you should take in 900 – 1,300 calories in carbohydrates.

The US department of agriculture is a federal department that manages programs for food, nutrition, agriculture, natural resources, and rural development.

The recommendations are set by the USDA.

Fiber is a form of carb which derives from plant-based foods that the body is unable to break down.

Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram of the macronutrient.


Dietary fiber is a form of carb that is found in plant sources that the body is not able to digest.

Fiber is a vital nutrient that supports digestion, weight management, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

Fiber can be used to promote bowel movements and help to get rid of harmful substances in the body. The digestive system is kept clean and healthy.

There are two forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and absorbs water from food partially digested, It slows the process of digestion and regulates blood glucose levels, which lowers LDLs.

Low-density lipoprotein is the form of lipoprotein in which cholesterol is transported in the blood. It is called the “bad cholesterol”.

Insoluble fiber is a fiber that does not dissolve in water and instead adds bulk to the stool.

Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, prevents constipation, and cleanses the colon.

Prebiotics are fibers that are fermented in the gut. The bacteria needed for digestion use prebiotics as food.

It is recommended that women take in 25 grams of fiber each day, and men take in 38 grams per day.


Fats are also called lipids, and they are needed for many vital bodily functions.

Fats are organic molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen elements joined together in long groups known as hydrocarbons.

Fat is used to store energy, protect vital organs, provide insulation, transport fat-soluble vitamins, and play a role in tissue growth and hormone production.

Fatty acids are the smaller and absorbable building blocks of fat that is found throughout the body.

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Hydrocarbons are a compound of hydrogen and carbon, like those that are chief components of petroleum and natural gas.

Saturated fat is solid at room temperature and these compounds have no double bonds in the molecular structure.

Unsaturated fats are considered beneficial and are liquid at a room temperature.

Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fats. They can be found in vegetable shortenings and oils and fried foods.

Trans fats are known to increase the risk for coronary artery disease, which is a narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries.

Essential fatty acids are ones that cannot be synthesized by the human body, which means it needs to be taken in through the diet.

The main essential fatty acids are linoleic acid omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

Other essential fatty acids are arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid.

When it comes to intake recommendations for fats, the AHA recommends keeping fats to 30 – 35 percent of daily calorie intake.

The AHA stands for the American heart association, which is a nonprofit organization that funds cardiovascular research and educates consumers on healthy living and good cardiac care.

Staying closer to 20 percent is beneficial for weight loss and maintenance.

There are 9 calories per gram of this macronutrient.


Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids, which are needed for the maintenance of body tissues and the building up of cells.

Protein may be broken down for energy, but it is not preferred as an energy source for the body.

The body would rather preserve proteins since they are vital and cannot be replaced by other macronutrients.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They consist of four elements, which are hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon.

The human body requires 20 amino acids for the proper growth and functions of tissues.

Essential amino acids are ones that are not produced in the body in the proper levels and need to be directly obtained in the diet.

Proteins are complete or incomplete. A complete protein is one food source that has all nine essential amino acids which are needed and in the proper dose.

Incomplete proteins are missing one or more of the nine essential proteins in their makeup.

The intake recommendations for protein are weight-adjusted and decrease along with getting older.

Protein intake is dependent on client goals, also.

Increasing protein intake leads to greater strength and muscle mass gains when paired with resistance exercise.

Muscle protein synthesis is a process that produces a protein to repair muscle damage and oppose muscle breakdown.

The RDA for protein is 0.66 – 0.80 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

These recommendations do not take into account age, sex, and body comp.

The estimated average requirement is the average daily nutrient intake level that is estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a specific life stage or sex.

Activity-adjusted recommendations are different and more reliable.

The RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. A lot of research points to an optimal intake of 0.7 – 1.0 grams per pound or around 10 – 35% of daily calories.

For people that are looking to promote skeletal muscle protein growth and physical strength with little activity, 1.0 grams per kg of body weight is best.

For those who are moderately physically active, 1.3 grams per kg of body weight is optimal.

For those who are intensely physically active, 1.6 grams per kg of body weight optimal.

Long-term consumption of up to 2 grams per kg of body weight is still healthy, but over that could pose some risks.

There are four calories in every gram of proteins.


Water makes up around 60 percent of your own total body weight in adults, and then around 75 percent in children.

Dehydration is the harmful loss or removal of water in the body.

There are many factors at play to influence how much water the body needs to function correctly, such as hot climates, physical activity, fever, sickness, body comp, size, age, and more.

When someone is dehydrated, they are not able to properly manage bodily temperature, electrolyte balance, joints may work poorly, and blood pressure increases.

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Water is divided into intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid.

The ICF is water within the cells of the body, while ECF is water found outside the cells and between tissues.

Two-thirds of water is within the cells and one-third out.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration are going to be thirst, dry mouth, yellow urine, very dry skin, dizziness, tiredness, and more.

Water intake recommendations are 2.7 – 3.7 liters of water per day for adults. And 20 percent of that will actually come from food sources.

The human body relies on the intake of water to function correctly.


Micronutrients are needed in smaller quantities than carbs, fiber, fat, and protein. The micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are chemical elements and substances found in trace amounts for the support of growth and development.


Minerals are needed to support the development of bone and growth of the body as well as the function of the brain, heart, and muscle tissues.

Some of the most well-known and important minerals are zinc, iron, calcium, sodium, and potassium.

There are also macrominerals and trace minerals that are needed in large or small amounts, respectively.

Minerals are not a direct source of energy, so they do not provide calories in the diet.

These minerals also do not need to be broken down, as they enter in their simple forms already.


These are the other category of micronutrients, and they play specific roles within our bodies, such as the promotion of cell functioning, growth, and development of all tissues.

The human body does not create these, like with minerals, so intake is required via the diet.

Most of the time, dietary deficiencies are the cause for people struggling with how they look or feel.

Normal physiology is hindered when you are deficient in nutrients like these vitamins.

The most common deficiency is going to be with these vitamins: Vitamin B7, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Chromium, Iodine, and Molybdenum.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed along with the fat in the diet, and thus, fat is required to be present at some level.

Water-soluble vitamins are broken down and absorbed with water but they are not stored in the body like fat-soluble.

Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate

The US Department of Health and Human Services oversees public health, welfare, and civil rights issues.

They are the ones responsible for creating the well-known Dietary Guidelines for Americans which aims to promote sustainable, healthy food choices for lifelong health and good nutrition.

Many of these guidelines are in place to prevent chronic diseases like cancer, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

The guidelines look at what to eat and what to avoid, specifically.

The Food and Drug Administration is in charge of regulating the production and distribution of food, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and other consumer products.

An eating pattern deals with the types of food and beverage an individual consumes.

The Dietary Guidelines are based on five core concepts which are followed up with more detailed guidelines for food choices.

Concept 1: Following a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.

Concept 2: Focusing on variety, the density of nutrients, and food amounts.

Concept 3: Limiting calories from added sugars and saturated fats along with reductions in sodium intake.

Concept 4: Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

Concept 5: Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Limiting Added Sugars

Added sugars are any sugars that are added to a food or beverage when it is processed. This is compared to natural sugars already found in whole foods.

For the general population of the US, this is something that is a public health concern.

Limiting Unhealthy Fats

The calories from saturated and trans fats need to be limited to less than 10 percent of calories each day.

This is based on research that shows replacing saturated fats with unsaturated as being associated with reductions in the risk for CVD.

Limiting Sodium

The intake of sodium each day is 2,300 mg. This is the set tolerable upper intake level for people 14 and older.

Limiting Alcohol

Alcohol is ideally limited to one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men.

This is going to be considered moderate drinking. Anything more is heavy drinking and carries heightened risks.

The Food Pyramid to MyPlate

The food pyramid is well-recognized in today’s world. It is a visual tool that helps with creating a healthy eating pattern.

The food pyramid looks at the number of servings per day recommended for grains, vegetables, fruits, meats, and other protein sources.

MyPlate is a newer visual nutrition guide published via the USDA.

This tool works better with the dietary guideline concepts and choosing larger quantities of healthy whole foods.

Understanding Food Labels

It is important to be able to quickly and efficiently read the nutritional content of food items when you are shopping or out to eat.

Food labels are pretty universal and quite valuable to the general public.

The nutrition facts is a label required by the FDA on most food and beverages that details the food’s nutrient content.

Nutrition Facts Labels

These labels are made so that they are easier to read and recognize the most important information according to the current lifestyles and diets in the country.

The important recent updates have added bolding and text size increases for specific contents like serving size, calories per serving, and servings per container.

Daily value is a reference amount, expressed in grams, mg, or micrograms. It says how much to consume and not exceed.

Common Diet Trends

Diet means the foods that a person or community is eating the most of habitually. It refers to a choice of regular foods consumed for the purpose of losing weight or for medical reasons.

Many diet plans are targeted to consumers to provide benefits like rapid weight loss, long-term weight loss, improved health in the gut, lower risk for diabetes, lower blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health.

The detox diet is based on the idea that the body benefits best from periodic detoxification. These diets look to restrict eating to some raw fruits, veggies, water, or juices.

There are several cleanses that are popular, with body areas like the colon or liver being claimed to benefit from detoxing.

Low and No-Fat Diets are very popular as the idea is to lead to less fat in the body, or some form of metabolic changes

There is no established safe lower limit of fat, and because of this low-fat diets can get dangerously low.

Eating by blood type is a newer fad that entered the nutrition realm and isn’t based on much, but some studies have shown value, while others do not.

The Raw Food Diet is based on the idea that cooking foods causes the nutrients to leech out and proteins to become denatured and not be as usable in the body.

There are a lot of critics to the raw food diet, as with many fads.

Low-energy diets look to restrict calories to 800 – 1,200 for low-energy and less than 800 for very-low-energy diets.

Plant-Based Diets minimize, restrict, or completely remove meat and animal products, depending on the specific type of diet.

There are plant-based diets like veganism, vegetarianism, and many other small forms to include various proteins.

The Keto Diet restricts carb intake, as only 20% of the daily calories come from carbs. That is essentially 50 grams in a 2000 calorie diet.

The remaining calories will come from fats and protein.

Ketones will be produced in the keto diet as the body cannot support itself from the carbs like it usually does.

The Atkins diet is a brand and diet that has lasted many years as far as popularity goes. It is essentially another form of a low-carb diet.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of three or more physiological and biomechanical abnormalities that come with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The carnivore diet consists of eating only meat and animal products.

The paleo diet has gained momentum and is considered to be a clean eating method.

Paleo diets are low in carbs and high in proteins.

Gluten-free has become popular due to celiac disease and more people think they have it than people that actually do.

The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This was made to help with hypertension becoming such a high occurrence in the general public.

The Mediterranean diet looks to imitate the diet of Mediterranean countries, as they historically have had fewer chronic health issues.

Intermittent fasting is a form of diet that focuses well on the timing of food intake within each day.

Fasting simply means refraining from consuming food for a set time.

Carb Cycling is a dietary approach focusing on timing. It involves making target reductions and increases to carb intake on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Limiting Factors for Nutritional Consistency

Some of the primary reasons for poor consistency to nutritional plans are:

  • eating too many processed foods
  • not eating enough protein in the diet
  • not eating enough vegetables in the diet
  • eating too much too fast
  • eating when someone is not truly hungry
  • not eating when someone feels hungry
  • kipping meals throughout the day
  • consuming too many sugar-sweetened drinks
  • bad sleep quality and recovery
  • use of foods to manage emotional stresses
  • Lacking basic food prep skills
ISSA Chapter 14: Nutrition Foundations 6
ISSA Chapter 14: Nutrition Foundations 7
ISSA Chapter 14: Nutrition Foundations 8

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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