If you’re pretty new to the whole nutrition and fitness world, you might not know what the heck some of the more common terms mean. So I decided I would write up a list of a few basic words, as well as what they mean, to help your healthy journey along in any way I can.
Calorie- This is a measure to determine the amount of energy in food and drinks. Example: One cup of skim milk contains 80 calories, which means if you drink that milk, a 25 minute walk at a leisurely pace of 2.5mph will burn those 80 calories right off.
To maintain your weight, a moderately active (people who get 2-3 hours of exercise a week), average woman should eat around 2,000 calories a day and a moderately active, average man about 2,500 calories.
Metabolism- According to Institute for the Psychology of Eating, the technical definition of metabolism is “the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body.” Meaning, there are chemical reactions happening throughout the body such as the digestive metabolism or the metabolism of cholesterol. The one I am referring to is the calorie-burning metabolism. Basically, this is the process that turns what you eat and drink into energy.
When talking about the metabolism and how it relates to calories, the faster, the better. The speedier your metabolism is, the more calories you burn. And when your calorie burn goes up, the number on your scale can go down.
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)- This is the amount of calories you burn when your body is at rest. And when I say “at rest,” your insides are still cranking right along by pumping your heart, breathing, digesting your food, etc.
(MHR) Maximum Heart Rate- It is the number of beats per minute when your heart is working at its max. The number is also used to help find your target heart rate zone. It is typically related to your age.
You can figure out your estimated MHR by subtracting your age from 220 (220 – age). Another formula that’s supposed to be more accurate, published in the journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, is 206.9 – (0.67 x age).
Glycemic Index- Food containing carbohydrates are ranked on a scale from 1 to 100 based on how they effect the blood sugar. Foods that send your blood sugar soaring get a higher ranking, while the foods that keep the blood sugar more stable rank lower. An example of a high GI food would be a scone coming in at a 92, whereas green beans have a much lower GI ranking of 15.
Aerobic Exercise (aka Cardio)- This is a type of physical activity that raises the heart rate and can be done for a more than a few minutes at a time (e.g., jogging, cycling, step aerobics, etc.). It improves your endurance, strengthens your heart and is terrific for burning calories and fat.
Anaerobic Exercise- This is the opposite of aerobic exercise. It is made up of short, strength related activities, such as lifting weights, sprinting or certain parts of a dance class. There’s a lot of stopping and starting where you’re focusing more on strength and power as opposed to endurance.
Low Intensity Cardio- You are easily able to carry on a conversation without getting winded. This will be below 50% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).
Moderate Intensity Cardio- At this level, you can still talk, but you are unable to sing. Your MHR will be between 60 – 70%.
High Intensity Cardio- You will be pretty breathless at this point so talking could be a challenge. Exercise that is considered high intensity typically falls between 75 – 85% of your MHR.
Interval Training- A type of physical activity where you alternate between high and low intensity exercise.
Rep- A “rep” is short for repetition, which is how many times you do the same movement over again. Example: 12 reps of a squat= performing a squat 12 times
Set- This is one group of many reps performed at one time. Example: 3 sets of 15 bicep curls= 1st set of 15 reps; 2nd set of 15 reps; 3rd set of 15 reps
Free Weights- These are weights that are not a part of a machine.
Like I said, this list is pretty basic and I have barely skimmed the surface. So if there’s a term that stumps you, I’d love for you to comment!
David, M. (2013). What is Metabolism – A New Metabolism Definition. [online] Psychology Of Eating. Available at: http://psychologyofeating.com/new-definition-metabolism/ [Accessed 17 Feb. 2015].
The-gi-diet.org, (n.d.). The GI Diet – List of low GI foods. [online] Available at: http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/ [Accessed 17 Feb. 2015].
Waehner, P. (n.d.). Cardio 101 – How Long Should You Exercise?. [online] About.com Health. Available at: http://exercise.about.com/cs/cardioworkouts/a/cardio101_5.htm [Accessed 17 Feb. 2015].
Waehner, P. (2014). Understanding Your Maximum Heart Rate. [online] About.com Health. Available at: http://exercise.about.com/od/healthinjuries/g/maxheartrate.htm [Accessed 18 Feb. 2015].