Using nutrition research as a weight loss motivator

Research dietary guidelines and nutrition before you start any diet.

Do you have the urge to lose weight? If you do, before you set any goals, first start by challenging yourself on how you think. Are you thinking you should go on a diet or learn more about nutrition? The word diet and nutrition mean the same thing, don’t they? Are you telling yourself you need to go on a diet? Are you aware of the basic nutritional dietary guidelines? Are you aware that you need to be physically active at least one hour each day? Like any new task, setting the goal or plan is the most important step and there are obviously many questions to ask before you commit to a new diet.

Losing weight is a good goal, but maintaining a healthy weight should be the long term goal (see Michigan State University Extension’s weight management page for tips). Consuming a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise is important for your health now and for the future. Regular exercise is important and even people who do not consider themselves athletes are getting into this “healthy” attitude. Research has shown that athletes don’t need a diet different from what is suggested by the MyPlate Dietary Guidelines. MyPlate focuses on a personalized plan based on you age, gender and activity level.

The nutrients your body needs can be sorted into macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients provide fuel and include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates provide a person with energy/fuel. Carbohydrate rich-foods should makeup 45 to 60 percent of your calories. These foods include: low-fat yogurts, fruit, starchy vegetables, beans, cereals, pasta, rice and low-fat milk. Protein builds and maintains muscle mass and aids in muscle recovery. Protein should makeup 12 to 15 percent of your total calories. Low-fat milk, yogurt, cheeses, nuts, seeds, soy, eggs, poultry, fish and beef are all good protein sources. Fat is needed in every cell of the body and is a source of energy when your body is at a low-intensity level, as well as when you are engaged in long-duration activity. Fat should makeup 20 to 25 percent of your total calories. Vegetable oils such as olive oil, nuts and fish are healthy fat sources

Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and water. Vitamins A, D, C, E, K and the B’s help your body perform processes such as turning carbohydrates into energy. The best way to get vitamins is to eat a diet that includes a variety of foods from the vegetable and fruit groups. Minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc help develop bone structure and control numerous processes in the body. Water makes up 60 to 70 percent of your body. Adequate hydration helps the body flush toxins, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Understanding the suggested dietary guidelines simplifies nutrition and diets. Knowing that we need to eat foods from all five food groups each day is great, but knowing how much from each group and adding variety, color, textures and information about whole grains, lean meats, sugars, salts and fats is phenomenal. Research the dietary guidelines for yourself and find out how much you should be eating for your age, weight and activity level at http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Research can be a great motivator!

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