RECOMMENDED DAILY NUTRITION FOR WEIGHT LOSS
FROM THE YMCA
Food is about taste, appeal and satisfaction, but weight loss is about numbers. To take off 1 lb., you need a 3,500-calorie deficit. You won't succeed in staying healthy and losing weight if you cut the wrong foods and end up with a nutritional deficit. There are important principles of good nutrition to keep in mind when planning a weight-loss diet.
Importance of Macronutrients: The Mayo Clinic evaluates popular diets and publishes research findings on nutrition. The clinic stresses the importance of balancing macronutrients every day to stay healthy, even while you're dieting. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbohydrates are the body's main energy source and account for 45 to 65 percent of a healthy diet. Protein nourishes skin, bones, muscles and organ tissue and accounts for 10 to 35 percent of the day's intake. Fats are essential for the immune system, absorbing vitamins and delivering concentrated energy. They should make up 20 to 35 percent of your diet.
Significance of Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates fuel the engine that moves you. They are critical to exercise, and no diet gets very far without a daily exercise routine. Carbohydrate calories are used efficiently by the body, so carbs support endurance. They can be filling enough to keep you feeling satisfied until the next meal. They are loaded with fiber, which moves food quickly through the digestive system, and they release their energy slowly to keep the blood-sugar level stable. The best carbs for a dieter come from whole grains, beans, legumes, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.
The Skinny About Fat: You need fat in a healthy diet to keep the body functioning at optimum levels. But fat is calorie-dense, so consume less of it and consume it in a smart way. Forget trans fats. They are in most commercial baked products, fried foods and a lot of prepared and snack foods. Replace saturated fats from animal products and some vegetable oils, like coconut, with unsaturated fats from olive oil, fish and vegetables. Eat only lean poultry and low-fat dairy products. You'll get enough fat for taste and nutritional needs, but you won't need to spend so many hours in the gym working off the extra calories.
Basic Food Plan: The Mayo Clinic recommends a balanced diet for daily nutrition. You can adapt it to your weight-loss goals by controlling the calories and portion sizes. Check with your health care provider if you have any special circumstances that may affect your choice of diet. In general, try to eat five portions of vegetables, four of fruit, four of carbohydrates, three protein and dairy and three fats per day. That might look like a banana, bran cereal and fat-free milk for breakfast; a piece of lean chicken, a raw vegetable salad and a small apple for lunch; broiled fish, steamed green beans, a big raw salad and a small multigrain roll for dinner and a fresh pear for a snack.
Diet-Busting Treats: Giving up all your favorite "bad" foods isn't a smart diet strategy. The sense of deprivation will overwhelm your willpower, and that's an invitation to binge. Instead, have just a little of the diet-busting treat. Control portion sizes of everything, but especially of less healthy foods, to consume fewer calories every time you eat. Keep lots of your favorite healthy snacks around so there is something nutritious to tempt you. Schedule smaller meals more frequently, and you won't reach for high-fat, high-sugar snacks as a pick-me up. Drink more water, and you'll feel less hungry. Changing old food habits doesn't happen overnight.