Friday, September 21, 2007

Nutrition and Weight Loss

To say I've not put much consideration into nutrition or the types of food I've been eating is a big understatement. To not only do well on the weight loss but to improve overall health and minimize risk of disease down the road, I've had to start learning more about nutrition. A healthy eating plan is one that emphacizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, includes lean meats, beans, eggs and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.

Skipping a meal, especially breakfast, is not a good idea. People who eat fewer meals tend to eat more and weigh more. A low fat breakast, especially with fiber, is a useful tool in the weight loss arsenal.

What about Low carb diets?
* Idea: Many people eat too many carbs, which promote insulin production and lead to weight gain.
- The good: Low carb diets tend to be calorie restricted as well, around 1200 calories per day,
so yes, many will see a loss of a pound a week with these.
  - For those with, or at risk for, diabetes, there may be advantages to reduced carbs.
- The bad
  - Low carb diets lump together good carbs (most grains, beans, rice, pasta, some vegies and fruit) with bad (simple sugars).
  - Low carb diets can lead people to eat way too much fat and protein
  - The initial 'burst' of weight loss on starting such a diet can be mostly water loss due to glycogen conversion
  - Fad diets tend to be temporary and hard to maintain long-term. Without changes in eating habits long term, weight may return.

Reducing or eliminating sugary drinks is a smart choice both for your diet and for your teeth.

"Nutrition Guidelines for Weight Loss" suggests the following:
1. No less than 1200 calories a day, unless under doctor's supervision.
2. Find your calorie range, then subtract up to 750 calories a day.
3. Try to keep your carb/protein/fat ratio between 50-55% carbs, 20-25% protein, and 20-30% fat.
4. 8-10 servings of grains per day.
5. 7 servings of vegetables per day.
6. 2-4 of fruits per day.
7. 4-6 oz lean meat or 2-3 servings of soy per day.
8. 2-3 servings of lowfat dairy products per day.
9. Try to drink 64-100 oz of water daily.
10. Eating disorders are common and serious.
11. Moderation, variety and balance are key.

They provide a 'sample day' for a 25 y/o female, 5'8", 160lbs, lightly active.
(Calorie Range 1950-2200, Weight Loss Range 1200-1950)
- Eats Breakfast: 2 pieces of toast w/ peanut butter and jelly (100% fruit),
orange juice, coffee (black), water = 400 calories, 2 grains, 2 fruit, 1 protein
- Goes to Work (desk job): more water
- Lunch: 10" sub sandwich (w/ meat, cheese, and veggies), chips, tea (unsweetened)
= 800 calories, 4 grains, 2 protein, 1 dairy, 2 veggies
- More Work: more water
- Snack: carrots with ranch dip = 150 calories, 2 veggies, 1 dairy
- Goes Home ;Runs 30 min: more water
- Dinner: salad with turkey bacon and olive oil/raspberry vinegarette,
garlic toast = 350 calories, 3 veggies, 2 grains, 1 protein
- Does Light Housework
- Relax and Snack: Hot Cocoa = 150 calories, 1 dairy
Total: 1850 calories, 8 grains, 7 veggies, 2 fruit, 4 protein, 3 dairy

Remember the four food groups and the old food pyramid? It's gone through serious revision since I learned it as a kid. The pyramid has been turned on its side and expanded. There is more emphasis on individuality, balanced eating, physical activity, whole grains and fiber, and more detail on what kinds of fats and oil to avoid. They have a nicely done web site with a lot of information, and personalized charts to help users know how much of what they should be planning for their meals, and tools to keep track of these. Check out MyPyramid at

Some other useful links to find out more about nutrition and weight loss:

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