If you were to ask a group of people “what is a diet? “, chances are many will respond with something you do to lose weight or slim down. Dieting is actulally much more than that. Dieting does involve food intake, but it’s not only about slimming down.
Dieting is making choices that will help to transform your body into a better you. This starts by understanding what you eat in order to make better choices.
A properly balanced diet can help to give you more energy, reduce stress, lower the risk of certain diseases and overall help you feel better.
With so many choices out there, how do you figure out where to begin or what you need to know?
Let’s talk about Carbs
You hear it often, if you want to lose weight stop eating carbs. The challenge is so many of us LOVE carbs. Not all carbs are bad for you, as a matter of fact their are some good ones you need to know about.
What exactly are carbohydrates? Simply put, they are sugars, starch, cellulose and gums that serve as an energy source. Your body converts carbohydrates in to glucose (blood sugar) which is used for your cells, tissues and organs. They are called “simple” or “complex” based on their chemical makeup and what your body does with them.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars that are easy to digest and can be an important source of energy. You can find some of these sugars called “natural sugars” in milk and fruit. While “added or processed sugar” is found in candy, soda and sweets.
Take a look at this nutrition label. Under sugars you will notice there is information for added sugars. What are added sugars? This could be fructose, glutose, brown sugar, corn syrup, sucrose, honey, or a combinaton of sugars. This makes it difficult to really know what exactly in in the product you are about to consume, so try to avoid foods with addes sugars.
Complex carbohydrates are longer sugar molecules linked together. This type of carbohydrate takes a little longer to break down and used by the body, but are a great source of fiber. Whole grains, breads, cereals, legumes, startchy vegetables are types of complex carbohydrates.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. So based on a caloric intake of 2000 calories per day your caloric intake of carbohydrates should be between 900 – 1300, equal to 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.
To get more good carbs in your diet its best to add more fruits and vegetable and limit the breads and sweets.
Protein, why you need it
Protein is a major component of every cell in our body. It’s part of your DNA and it’s important to keep those cells renewing so your body can continue to build and repair tissue, make enzymes, build our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
Proteins are comprised of small molecules called amino acids programmed by DNA. Proteins come in various shapes and sizes taking on characteristic shapes while adding vitamins and minerals so they function.
The digestive stystem breaks down the proteins in the small intestine so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the parts of the body where needed in order to make new proten or release energy, in other words, proteins help your tissues and organs in your body develop, grow and function properly.
Your body does not store protein, there is no reserve, that’s why it’s important to eat protein rich food helps to fuel your body so that the cell renewal and energy building process continues.
Benefits of adding protein to your diet include:
- Boost energy levels
- Curb hunger
- Stabilize blood sugar levels
- Protect your heart health
- Helps maintain strong bones
- Building lean muscle
- Helping you maintain a healthy weight
Protein rich foods to add to your diet:
According to the Institute of Medicine, you should get at between 10% to 35% of your daily calories from protein.
Why do I need fats and oils?
The American Heart Association says “Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat.”
Did you know there are 4 different types of fats we consume?
Known as the fat to avoid because these fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood which can lead to heart disease and stroke. These fats are saturated with hydrogen molecules. And are usually solid at room temperature.
Saturated fats are found in cheese, butter, fatty beef, pork, lamb, poultry with skin, cream, baked goods, coconut oil and fried foods.
It’s important to limit your diet to 6% of saturated fat.
Trans fats are used to give food texture and taste. You will find that many fast-food restaurants use trans fat to prepare (deep-fry) their foods. The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils.
Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (American Heart Association)
Trans fat is used to prepare some of your favorite foods like, dougnuts, cakes, pies, frozen pizza, cookies and french fries.
Limit your consumption of trans fat to 6% daily.
Monosaturated fats are good for you. They help to reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Olive Oil is one of these fats which help add vitamin E to your diet.
Add avacado, olive oil, sesame oil, peanut butter, nuts and seeds to your diet.
Polyunsaturated fats also help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.
Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also provide essential fats that your body needs but can’t produce itself – such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that are important for many functions in the body.
Add polyunsaturated fat to your diet with these foods
- soybean oil
- corn oil
- sunflower oil
While working on achieving your weight goal, take a look at your current diet. A great way is to write down what you eat everyday for a week then review it to see where you need to adjust. You may realize that with a few adjustments, you will not only lose weight but feel better.
Drink more water
Add more green leafy vegetables.
Satisfy you sweet craving with fruit
Get protein with meat, fish, eggs or beans
Try nuts and seeds to snack
Get vitamin D with milk or eat yogurt and cheese
Accent with herbs and spices
Choose health starches
Limit the soda and sweets
Love your weight
Feel good about the things you eat and the choices you make to improve your body and health every day. You will find you will binge less and be satisfied more often. It’s easy to just grab something quick, but it’s better to think about it first so you are more aware of what you are consuming.
love yourself, love your day, love your weight, be the best you