How to Maintain a Healthy Diet: Make your own diet

January 29, 2010

Diet Foods, Diets & Nutrition

Some knowledge of basic nutrients never hurts. You will learn how to obtain them through a balanced diet and you will also learn their roles in the body. Establishing your own calorie and nutrient needs, an analysis of the diet you adopted and the creation of a healthy and low in calories meal plan are some of the goals this week.

Basic Nutrients

Our body receives 6 basic nutrients from eating the following proper foods. It’s about carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Try to maintain a balance between these nutrients when you take on a weight loss program.

Your motto should always be: Lose weight healthy!

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats contain the most calories, and vitamins, minerals and water contain no calories at all.

• Fat: 9 calories/gram
• Alcohol: 7 calories/gram
• Protein: 4 calories/gram
• Carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram.

Carbohydrates and Dieting

The role of carbohydrates: “Gasoline for the body” – carbohydrates resulted from consumption are converted, eventually, into glucose. This is the main supplier of electricity to all your activities. Whether you lift a finger or run for miles, your body uses glucose from your blood to provide the energy needed during that activity.

Sources of carbohydrates: the highest amount of carbohydrates derives from plant sources. Other sources are: bread, cereals, fruits, raw vegetables. Some animal products like milk and other dairy products contain a significant amount of carbohydrates.

Types of carbohydrate – there are three main types of carbohydrates:

• Simple sugars or simple carbohydrates found in fruits, milk and common sugar. It is advisable to avoid excessive consumption of refined sugar because it is low on fibers, vitamins and minerals and may be the main cause of occurrence of many diseases of dentition;
• Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains and vegetables, root crops (parsnip, potatoes, parsley). These carbohydrates are essential for our health. Eating unrefined carbohydrates is recommended (bread, brown rice) due to high content of dietary fiber and essential B vitamins. World Health Organization recommends that 50-70% of daily energy intake should come from complex carbohydrates;
• Dietary fibers are the indigestible part of carbohydrates. We find them in whole grains, fruits (fresh or dried) and vegetables. They can prevent many digestive problems and protects against colon cancer.

How can you include carbohydrates in your diet?

Many nutritionists believe that approximately 50-60% of daily calories are from carbohydrates. You can easily obtain a specific amount of carbohydrates because most foods are important sources of carbs. However, not all carbohydrates also have a nutritional value. So be selective about the type of carbohydrates you include in your diet.

Choose these foods that contain good carbohydrates for the body, that provide the basic nutrient needs: fruits, vegetables, grains rich in fiber (oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat flour pasta, whole grains and other products made out of wheat), dairy products with low or no fat.

Beware of these foods as the carbohydrates that result from the consumption of these foods do not provide the necessary basic nutrients: sugar, desserts, sweets, fizzy juice, white bread, white rice and refined flour pasta.

Fats and Dieting

The role of fat – since the "fat" has become a bad word for everyone, most people do not realize the crucial importance it has for the survival of our body. What are the roles fulfilled by fat?

• it absorbs vitamins A, D, E and K;
• it synthesizes vital hormones in the body;
• it ensures a healthy skin;
• it forms a protective barrier, isolating our vital organs.

Sources of fat – the main sources are vegetables and livestock. Also, oil, butter, margarine, cream, sauces, meat, cheese, peanuts, coconut, olive oil and avocados are leading providers of fat.

Types of fat
• Saturated (animal fats) their excessive intake may increase cholesterol levels, exposing the body to heart diseases;
• Unsaturated (vegetable fats: mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated). The use of mono-unsaturated fats is recommend (olive oil, peanut), because the poly-unsaturated (sunflower oil) become unstable at high temperatures.

How can you include healthy fats in your diet?

Like carbohydrates, there are fats that have to be consumed and fats that have to be avoided. Strive to include sources of mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat in your diet and reduce the consumption of foods that are high in saturated fats as much as you can. 30% of daily calories should be obtained from fats, and especially of the unsaturated.

Proteins and Dieting

The role of proteins – they are vital to the body and can produce glucose, if the amount of carbohydrates is not enough. The same situation happens with fatty acids. However, neither fat nor carbohydrates can produce proteins, because besides carbon they contain, hydrogen, oxygen (elements of carbohydrates and fats) and nitrogen. It provides the links between tissues; it strengthens muscles (if it worked) and the body’s immunity and regulates hormones.

Sources of proteins – choose vegetable and animal products with high protein content, such as meat, fish, seafood, tofu and soy products, seeds and peanuts.

Types of proteins – proteins are composed of amino acids. There are 20 types of amino acids, of which only 11 can be produced by the body and are called nonessential amino acids. The remaining 9 amino acids, called essential, can not be produced by our body and must be obtained from food. Thus there are complete and incomplete proteins, depending on the amount of amino acids:
• Complete proteins contain the 9 amino acids and can be provided by consuming meat, seafood, cheese, dairy products. Another category of complete proteins from plants are soybean proteins;
• Incomplete proteins do not contain all the 9 essential amino acids. Foods providing incomplete protein: beans, peanuts and vegetables rich in starch. And combined will provide the 9 amino acids.

How can you include proteins in your diet?

The demands of our body in proteins are quite modest, but it’s good enough for proper operation. A larger amount of protein can lead to calcium loss and can stress the kidneys. So it is very easy provided daily protein needs and deficiencies are quite rare today. Like in the case of fats and carbohydrates, there is a good and a bad kind of proteins. It includes several proteins obtained from plants and removes sources with high fat content, such as red meat and cheese.

Components of a healthy and balanced diet

Vitamins and minerals – there are 13 vitamins and 22 minerals which are essential for the health of your body. The lack of vitamins and minerals over a long period may lead to the development of many diseases. For example, vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy;

• Water – you can survive for months without basic nutrients, but without water you can not last more than a few days. It is recommended you drink 8 glasses of water per day in addition to coffee, tea and juices. To be sure you’re well hydrated, urine should be clear and light yellow in color;
• Fibers – a high fiber diet will protect you from heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Some suggestions for a balanced diet

1. Eat at least 6 servings of grain products each day, preferably made from whole wheat;
2. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day;
3. Try to eat at least 2 servings of foods providing protein every day;
4. Eat at least 2 servings of dairy products (preferably with a low or no fat content) every day;
5. Limit consumption of saturated fat;
6. Limit consumption of sweets and confectionery;
7. Add foods high in fiber to your diet. Strive to eat about 20-35 grams per day;
8. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

Establish your calorie needs

Although it is not necessary to separately calculate every calorie to lose weight, it is good to have an idea of the calories you burn everyday. You need to burn 3500 calories more than your body needs so that you lose 2 pounds. For example, if your body requires 2200 calories daily to maintain weight, you can choose to eat 1700 calories a day and you lose 2 pounds a week. Never lose more than 5 pound per week!

For the rest of the 8 weeks weight loss plan visit How to Lose Weight in 8 weeks: a simple 8 weeks weight loss plan

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