Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Healthy Daily Diet For Weight Loss

Zero carbs. Fat flush. No dessert. Sound familiar? Losing weight is hard enough as it is, and all the fad diets that come and go make choosing a natural weight loss program much more confusing. There seems to be no consistent source of information. However, you can make real changes without excessive hunger and discomfort. Simply commit to a healthy diet to live by daily.

First, it’s important to understand the basics for good nutrition. The body’s three primary nutrient needs include protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The trick is choosing the right low-fat proteins, unsaturated fats, and whole-grain carbohydrates in reasonable portions. Even if your goal is not natural weight loss, the basics for good nutrition are essential to a healthy diet:

· Enjoy plenty of low-fat protein with every meal. Protein is key to muscle growth and reduces feelings of hunger. As a result, it gives you plenty of mileage to get to the next meal without having to snack. Chicken and fish are leaner than red meat and tend to be good choices. If you take advantage of organic or local farmer sources, the flavor is superior and
there are no injected growth hormones. Don’t forget bean dishes, plus vegetarian chicken, burgers and bacon. Those with high cholesterol can obtain protein from egg whites.

· Treat yourself to five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. This sounds like a lot, but a serving is actually fairly small. Also, the closer a fruit or vegetable is to its natural state, the more nutrients are delivered to the body. All-natural juices are also a great way to get more servings in per day. Fruit satisfies your sweet tooth while reducing sugar cravings. Organic fruits and vegetables are much healthier and you will be completely overwhelmed by the difference in flavor.

· Indulge in whole grain carbohydrates. Don’t completely eliminate carbohydrates! Reduce them, yes, but don’t eradicate them. Trade refined flour carbohydrates for whole grains. Once eaten, carbs are metabolized into blood glucose, which every cell uses as a primary energy source. As a matter of fact, glucose is the brain’s only source of fuel! However, if you eat more carbs than your body needs, it converts the leftover glucose into fat. Enjoy whole-grain wraps, multi-grain crackers, hearty breads and long grain, wild or basmati rice.

· Fulfill yourself with reasonable portions. You should never eat until you’re stuffed--nor should you ever get up from the table hungry. Your stomach can hold about one quart of food and beverage, an amount that would fit in your cupped hands. The trick to fulfillment is to slow down! Savor your food, and chew each bite 30 times. Not only is this the first crucial step in digestion, but it allows your stomach and brain to register when you’re full. Don’t interfere with your body’s ability to enjoy food by watching TV, working, or worse yet, driving. Sit down, relax, and enjoy your meal.

· Drink 8 to 16 glasses of water every day. Maintaining hydration is a key component of overall health. Also, water flushes away fat and transports nutrients throughout your body.

· Treat yourself in moderation. Never eating another potato chip or piece of cake again is completely unrealistic. However, they should not be staples in your diet. Figure out what you can’t live without, and treat yourself to it occasionally.

· Take high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements each day. No matter how healthy a diet, our food will not provide 100 percent of all the vital nutrients that our bodies need daily. Ensuring that you have all the bases covered by taking a multivitamin will go a long way toward a long and healthy life.

Maintaining a healthy diet to live by daily is not difficult when the basics of good nutrition are observed. Protein and fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone, with a few whole-grain carbs thrown in. The ratio of protein should always exceed that of carbs. This will stabilize your blood sugar and eliminate snacking between meals. Although you can jump start weight loss on a low-carb diet, you should enjoy at least one serving of whole-grain carbs every day.

“Healthy” food does not mean bland. The problem with the typical American diet is that it consists of highly refined foods full of synthetic ingredients. Also, portion sizes are out of control. When you start enjoying a healthy diet daily, you will regard highly processed foods as poison, boring and bland. Those who are beginning a natural weight loss program should also cut out the following killers.

· Red meat - If you want to enjoy red meat occasionally, that’s ok. However, avoid the fatty cuts such as rib-eyes and go for a lean filet.

· Burger-and-fry fast food - Fast food is absolutely the worst thing you can eat. The buns alone are nothing but high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil, both of which clog arteries. If you have to eat fast food, opt for fresh sandwiches on whole-grain breads or wraps.

· Refined carbohydrates - Any store-bought white food such as doughnuts, bagels, white bread, snack crackers, and potato chips will make you gain weight faster than almost anything.

· Dairy products - Dairy products tend to be very high in fat. If you can’t live without them, limit them to the low-fat and organic varieties. Considers substitutes such as olive oil or natural yogurt.

· High-fructose corn syrup - If you read a few labels, you’ll be amazed to see how often this is a top ingredient. Corn syrup is engineered to be 80 percent fructose and 20 percent glucose -that’s twice the fructose of regular sugar. Fruit’s natural fiber allows a sustainable absorption rate throughout all cells. Alternatively, high-fructose corn syrup is absorbed rapidly, and it must be metabolized in the liver. This excess causes weight gain.

· Alcohol - Limit yourself to three drinks per week. Your liver puts fat metabolism on hold to process alcohol. Also, alcoholic drinks like margaritas and beer are high in caloric content.

Diet is just one factor in the equation for weight loss. The other key element in a successful weight loss program is daily exercise. You should engage in 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day. Choose something that you enjoy such as walking, bicycling, hiking, swimming, or any team sports. It is easier to keep exercising daily if the activities you choose are fun. After all, exercise is a way of life -just like eating a healthy diet.

Looking great is one perk of regular exercise, but the most powerful benefits are to your health. Aerobic activity strengthens the immune system, is the number one stress buster, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, boosts self-confidence, and will even improve your sex life!

These key principles will help you start your successful weight loss program. It’s now up to you - begin a nutritious diet, take a high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement and exercise daily.

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