When we talk about getting healthy and losing weight, we must not forget how vital the role of nutrition is in reaching these goals. For most people practicing good nutrition is a struggle! Some of the reasons we fail include: lack of self-control, following a fad diet, cutting our calories too low, cutting whole food groups, eating too much of another food group, making drastic changes all at once, not knowing what to eat, and not knowing when to eat. I’m going to discuss the macro-nutrients that we need in our diets, the benefit of each one of these, food we should limit or avoid and different times to eat. It is important to make changes slowly and commit to changes you can stick with long term to get lasting benefits.
Fats are important for growth and development, brain functioning, healthy skin, hair and nails, and for fat burning purposes. Not all fats have the same benefit, however. I want to briefly discuss the different types of fats and their food sources.
Saturated fat raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, increases the cholesterol build up in your arteries and can put you at risk for a heart attack, stroke, and other heart problems. You can find saturated fat in animal products like fatty land meats, butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, palm oil, and coconut oil.
Trans Fats are unhealthy fats that form when vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation. This fat raises you bad cholesterol and lowers your good cholesterol. You can find trans fats aka hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oils in hard butter, microwave popcorn, biscuits, doughnuts, many crackers, fried fast foods, frozen pizza, shortening, and coffee creamers.
Poly and Monounsaturated Fats are good fats. They are liquid at room temperature and turn solid when they are chilled. These fats reduce risk for certain cancers (like breast cancer), reduce cholesterol levels, lower risk for heart disease and stroke, help with fat loss, improves the pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis, and reduces belly fat. You can find these fats in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fatty fish.
Protein is needed for the development of muscle, skin, hair, bones and blood. It helps boost our metabolism, which in turn helps us to burn more fat. Protein also helps stabilize our blood sugar levels and balance our hormones. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is .36 grams per pound of body weight, more if you are pregnant, nursing, or an athlete. When most people think about sources of protein, they think of meat. Protein can also be found in vegetables and grains. Recommended sources of protein are eggs, lean meats, low fat dairy, beans, nuts, quinoa, buckwheat, soy, rice, nut butters, hemp seed, Ezekiel bread, hummus, spinach, artichokes, peas, lentils, Greek yogurt, and seeds. If you eat more protein than required, those calories convert to sugar then fat. More importantly, too much protein can put stress on your kidneys. Excess protein has been linked to kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract and some cancers.
When trying to lose weight so many people shun carbohydrates. Carbs alone don’t make you fat, the abuse of food in general attribute to weight gain. While low carb diets may initially help you lower your weight significantly, studies show that within 3 years most people will regain this weight. One of the reasons for this is that it is simply too hard to stick with for the long term. It is important that we develop lifestyle changes not crash diets.
Carbs are not your enemy. We need carbs to fuel our body and our brain. Have you ever noticed when you go on a low carb or no carb diet you have such low energy, and have a hard time focusing and remembering things? You may have also noticed that everybody and everything all the sudden annoy you a lot more than normal. Carbs help produce serotonin “the feel good” chemical in our brain. This is why bread makes you so happy 😉 The fiber in carbs help keep you regular, which as a result leads to weight loss. Fiber can also lower the bad cholesterol and with help of exercise may increase your good cholesterol.
Although carbs are beneficial, not all carbs are created equal. Try to rid your diet of simple carbs like refined flour and sugar, and replace it with complex carbs such as veggies, beans, 100% whole wheat & grains, and fruit. Also, remember, as with all things, use moderation.
Our body is made up of 60% water. Drinking enough water is so essential to your health. Drinking water helps to balance your body fluids, replenishing what you lose from excretion. Drinking water can also make you feel fuller and is a great substitution for high calorie beverages. Some other benefits include: helping your skin look better, helping your kidneys, maintaining normal bowel function, and helping to prevent muscle fatigue. Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration, heat strokes, chemical imbalance, constipation, stomach ulcers, joint pain, reduction in muscle mass, illness, hunger pangs, over eating, and premature aging.
A lot of people choose to drink juice as a “healthy” option when trying to lose weight. Drinking calories can make it hard to lose weight. The Daily Recommended Allowance of sugar is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women, TOTAL FOR THE DAY! Check this out:
- 16oz Starbucks Latte: 17 grams of sugar
- 20oz Vitamin Water: 31 grams of sugar
- 20oz Gatorade: 35 grams of sugar
- 8oz Unsweetened Apple Juice: 24 grams of sugar
- 8oz Cranberry Juice: 30 grams of sugar
- 8oz Orange Juice: 24 grams of sugar
- 8oz Low Fat Milk: 13 grams of sugar
- 8oz Chocolate Milk: 25 grams
Add this to the sugar that comes naturally in the foods you are eating and you are going way over the recommended allowance!
WHEN TO EAT
The timing of when to eat is very important. There are different methods that can work, the important thing is finding which one will work best for you and that you will be able to stick to. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix/crash diet! The following are not diets, just eating schedules.
6 SMALL MEALS A DAY
- Eat every 2.5 to 3 hours.
- Keeps the metabolism high because your body is continuously digesting food.
- Should keep you from being hungry.
- Usually have your first meal with in an hour of waking.
- Try not to eat within 3 hours of bed time.
3 MEALS A DAY
- Larger meals so you don’t get hungry in between meals
- Feel more satisfied after each meal
- You may choose to set aside a few hundred calories for small snacks in between meals if you find yourself getting hungry.
- What our ancestors did when they had to go hunting or work in the fields for extended periods of time.
- 8 to 10 hour feeding window 14 to 16 hour fasting period each day.
- Can drink black coffee or tea during in the morning to help curb appetite to extend your fasting period.
- Not recommended for women who are pregnant, nursing or for children.
- Long list of health benefits according to the American College of Cardiology including but not limited to:
- Normalizing insulin sensitivity
- Increasing growth hormones
- Lowering inflammation
- Lowering triglyceride levels
- Shed fat
- Helps to eliminate sugar cravings
- Longer life span
- Increases brain functioning
- Forces the body to use fat as energy (especially during cardio during the fasting period)
I hope this information give you freedom to eat as you choose by making you more knowledgeable about the risk and benefits of different foods and different scheduling options available. Make wise choices that fit into YOUR lifestyle. In order for any of this to work for you, you must value your health, quality of life, appearance and loved ones more than you value the momentary satisfaction that senseless eating brings you. Have a successful journey!
♥Marquinta “Marcy” ♥
- American College of Cardiology in New Orleans, 2011 Annual Scientific Session
- CMSJ March 20, 2013 (Canadian Medical Ass. Journal)
- International Journal of Obesity 2011
- Nutrition 101 w/ Dr. Michael Van Derscheiden