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Diet and Caloric Intake


macronutrient breakdown

Caloric intake is simply the number of calories an individual consumes on a daily basis. An individual can also determine their caloric intake on a weekly basis or any other defined timeline.

The keys to losing weight are really quite simple and straightforward. In order for an individual to lose weight, they will have to reduce the number of calories they consume to a level below their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR refers to the average number of calories that a person's body burns on a daily basis.

Calories are defined as the amount of energy contained in the food that an individual consumes. Different types of food, by volume, have more calories than others. For example, foods that are high in fat and sugar are also typically higher in calories. Hence, if an individual consumes more calories than their body utilizes, the extra calories will be stored as excess body fat.

Decreasing Caloric Intake for Weight Loss


One pound of fat is comprised of approximately 3,500 calories. In order for an individual to lose one pound of body fat per week, they would need to decrease their caloric intake by approximately 3,500 calories per week, or approximately 500 calories per day. An alternative and highly recommended approach would be for an individual to begin an exercise program and decrease their caloric intake at the same time. By doing so, an individual would not only decrease the number of calories they are consuming, but also increase the number of calories they are burning via their exercise program. This approach will facilitate a healthier and more rapid weight loss regime.

It is also recommended that each individual discuss their current level of health with their medical professional prior to beginning an exercise routine. This will allow for an active discussion between you and your doctor, allowing him or her to provide you with an exercise and fitness approach that is safe for your current level of health.

The healthiest approach for an individual desiring to lose weight is to consume fewer daily calories and incorporate a fitness routine simultaneously. For example, if an individual eliminates 250 calories from their daily diet and burns 250 calories each day from their exercise routine, they will effectively reduce their caloric intake by 500 calories per day. If an individual achieves this scenario on a daily basis, they will eliminate 3,500 calories over a 7-day period. By doing so, an individual would then lose one pound of body fat per week.

Many health professionals believe that most individuals should not attempt to lose more than two pounds per week. For instance, losing more than two pounds within a week typically implies that an individual will begin to lose water weight and lean muscle mass instead of losing two full pounds of excess body fat. This will create a body with an unstable biological terrain, leading to less energy, an unhealthy lifestyle and a higher probability of gaining the weight back.

Diet vs. Lifestyle Change


dumbbells apple measuring tape

As each individual is biologically different, there is no universal diet that will facilitate weight loss for every individual in the same way. The concept of "going on a diet" to lose weight implies that eventually, the individual will "go off" the diet and return to their old eating habits.

This is the exact approach that facilitates what has been called the "yo-yo effect." When an individual decreases their daily caloric intake, their basal metabolic rate (BMR) will also begin to decrease.

For example, if an individual has a BMR that burns an average of 2,000 calories per day and they consume 3,000 calories per day in food, they will store 1,000 calories per day as fat.

If that individual now goes on a diet and decreases their caloric intake to 1,500 calories per day, they will create a scenario in which their body is burning an additional 500 calories per day. The burning of the additional 500 calories per day will come from stored body fat. Hence, in the first week of their new diet they should expect to lose one pound of body fat (deficit of 500 calories per day times 7 days in a week equals 3,500 calories, equals one pound of body fat).

However, as the individual continues to consume 500 calories less than their BMR per day, their BMR will begin to decrease to a level that matches that of their caloric intake (to achieve equilibrium). Because of this bodily phenomenon, most individuals find it difficult to lose the last 5 to 10 pounds of targeted body fat. The specific reason for this is that over the course of the individual's diet, their BMR will decrease to the exact same level as their caloric intake. This creates an environment where there is no longer a deficit in caloric intake vs. their specific basal metabolic rate.

Once an individual ends their diet and returns to their "old" eating habits, they typically find that they gain weight at a rate faster than before they went on the diet. This phenomenon is due to the fact that the individual decreased their BMR to 1,500 calories per day. As previously mentioned, the initial caloric intake for the individual was 3,000 calories per day. Once the individual returned to their "old" eating habits and began consuming 3,000 calories per day, with a BMR that has now been decreased to 1,500 calories, they begin to store 1,500 calories a day as body fat (compared to 1,000 calories per day prior to the diet). Hence, the individual will regain the weight that they have lost at an increased rate.

This being said, the preferred and most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to modify one's lifestyle to include a healthy diet and an active fitness approach. By taking an active approach to your personal health and fitness, you will create a steady routine that will lead to a long, healthy life.

Diet: the Foods an Individual Consumes


So which diets are best suited to facilitating weight loss? First, the word "diet" is often associated with weight loss and starvation. In truth, the word "diet" simply means the foods an individual consumes on a regular basis. Nonetheless, most individuals envision thoughts of starvation, deprivation, food cravings, hunger pains and unsatisfactory long-term weight loss results. It is recommended that you forget about the negative connotations of the word "diet" and all of the "miracle" fad diets associated with the word. There is no specific restrictive diet that will achieve every individual's weight loss goal. Typically, virtually all restrictive diets are unhealthy over the long run. Restrictive diets generally create nutritional deficiencies, bodily imbalances, irrational thought behavior, mental instability and even depression.

Every individual is biochemically unique, and thus requires a unique eating strategy that is specifically tailored to meet their body's requirements. Each individual has certain health challenges, certain foods that their bodies cannot properly digest, and certain foods that may cause allergic reactions. In addition, each individual has specific nutritional deficiencies that will upset their hormonal balance and possibly lead to additional body fat.

One approach an individual can take to determining which type of foods are best suited for their body type is to determine their metabolic type. A qualified medical professional can perform a series of tests to determine whether an individual has any nutritional deficiencies, as well as their metabolic type. By doing so, an individual will be able to use this information to assist in determining which types of foods are best suited for their current level of health and their type of metabolism. In general, the following caloric intake guidelines are recommended:

  • Eat a balanced diet of proteins, fats and carbohydrates

  • Eat real food grown by Mother Nature - vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean animal products, raised naturally without hormones.

  • Eat at least 50% of your food raw.

  • Eat several small meals throughout the day.

  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.

  • Avoid refined sugars, sweets and processed packaged foods.

  • Refrain from eating three hours before sleeping.

There are three primary elements associated with the consumption of food: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each of these three elements are responsible for specific biological functions, and are necessary for optimum health. It is important that each and every individual consume a balanced proportion of each of these three elements.

Protein


foods high in protein

Proteins, also known as amino acids, can be divided into two distinct categories. The first category pertains to the manner in which the human body obtains them. There are 9 amino acids that are defined as essential amino acids because they are obtained from the food that an individual consumes.

There are 13 amino acids that are considered nonessential because they are manufactured by the human body. The second category relevant to proteins is the amount of essential amino acids they contain. Complete proteins have all the essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins contain subsets of the essential amino acids and need to be combined with other complimentary proteins.

Protein has a major structural component in every cell in the human body, and is vital in cell growth, repair and maintenance. All of our bodily tissues (i.e. bones, skin, muscles and organs) have their own set of proteins that are necessary to perform various functions.

The amount of protein required by an individual varies based on their weight or, more specifically, their lean muscle mass. In general, an individual with a healthy weight and body composition should consume approximately 0.4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. For example, an individual that weighs 150 pounds should consume approximately 60 grams of protein on a daily basis.

Protein is typically found in animal meats, plant foods (i.e. grains and legumes) and dairy products such as milk and yogurt. The amount of protein in a food is measured in grams (1 gram of protein = 4 calories).

Carbohydrates


wheat bread grains

Carbohydrates are divided into two main types: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates (i.e. simple sugars) are made up of one or two sugar molecules (mono- or di- saccharides) and are digested quickly by the human body. For example, one type of simple carbohydrate is fructose, commonly found in fruit juice.

Simple carbohydrates provide the human body with short-term energy and fuel, and should typically be replaced whenever possible with complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide the body with long-term energy (i.e. eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread) and reduce fluxuations in blood/sugar levels.

Complex carbohydrates are comprised of more than two sugar molecules (polysaccharides) and are digested slowly by the body. An example of a complex carbohydrate is starch, found in potatoes, as well as whole grains.

Complex carbohydrates provide long-term fuel for your body, and are considered healthier than simple carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the human body’s preferred energy source. The human body stores approximately 400 grams of carbohydrates in its liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. Glycogen then provides the human body with energy.

In addition to being the body's preferred source of energy, carbohydrates are the only source of energy for red blood cells and the brain. This fact explains why individuals on low-carbohydrate diets often feel tired and have trouble concentrating.

Carbohydrates are primarily found in plant foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables and grain products), though they can also be found at lower levels in dairy products. The amount of carbohydrates in a food is measured in grams (1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories).

Fat


nuts

Fat is probably the most misunderstood nutrient in the world. Everyone has told you about the negative effects of excess fat is in your diet. However, fat is a necessary nutrient for the human body. It provides the human body with energy, surrounds and protects the vital organs, takes part in cellular function and structure, regulates hormonal production, balances body temperatures and transports fat-soluble vitamins. Without the appropriate amount of fat in an individual's diet, obtaining truly good health and well-being could not be achieved or sustained over the longrun.

Lipids are the scientific term used for fat. They provide the human body with an excellent energy source. Lipids contain over twice as many calories per gram as proteins or carbohydrates. Lipids are typically broken down into two categories: saturated and unsaturated.

Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature, and are typically found in animal meats, coconut oil and palm oil. In excess, saturated fats have been linked to heart disease. Consuming too much saturated and/or trans fat may increase levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body, hence increasing the risk of heart disease.

The USDA suggests that an individual consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day, and that they should limit their amount of trans fat to as close to 0 grams as possible.

Unsaturated fats are found in oils and plants. Unsaturated fats remain in liquid form at room temperature. "Good" fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat are found in fish, nuts and low-fat or non-fat dairy products. It is important to remember that these types of fat are not only beneficial to the overall health of an individual, but essential as well. These fats make up the essential fat an individual's body needs through its diet called linolaic acid. Linoleic acid cannot be manufactured by the human body. Thus, it is an essential fatty acid that must be obtained through the consumption of food.

Fat intake should comprise no more than 30% of an individual's total caloric intake. For an individual's body to receive the necessary amount of essential fat intake, 3% of fat intake should come from linoleic acid. For the safety of your heart, cholesterol should be limited to 300 milligrams a day. The amount of fat in a food is measured in grams (1 gram of fat = 9 calories.)

Steps to Achieving Your Optimum Weight


In order to define and achieve your optimum weight, you must determine the following items before working towards your personal weight loss goals:

  1. Determine your individual Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - Defines the average number of calories your body burns on a daily basis.

  2. Determine your optimum weight - Through the use of one of the techniques described under the Optimum Weight segment of the Weight Loss section.

  3. Determine your daily caloric intake - This will allow you to calculate how many calories you will need to eliminate from your diet and/or burn via your exercise routine.

  4. Define your weight loss goals - This will allow for a specific body weight target and timeline to be set. In addition, this will define the dietary and fitness approaches that will be necessary to achieve your weight loss goals within a preset timeline.

  5. Define your nutritional diet and exercise routine - This will provide the action necessary to achieve your specific weight loss goals.

  6. Modify your lifestyle - In order to achieve a long and healthy life, it will be necessary to modify your lifestyle to that of an active approach towards general health and mental well-being.

By taking the time to determine the answers to each of the 6 statements above, you will create a template that will facilitate your specific weight loss goals. Each of the 6 statements are discussed in detail and will provide you with all of the necessary tools to move forward as you transition to an active and healthy lifestyle. Articles included within the Weight Loss section of our website address virtually all aspects of weight loss.

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