For thousands of years, our ancestors selected their daily meals from the bounty of the earths animal and vegetable harvests. The traditional diets of most human cultures consisted of an almost unlimited variety of ingredients and recipes.
Today, however, our food sources suffer from a lack of quality, diversity, and balance. Natural foods have been replaced with processed and synthetic foods, which have weakened our digestive systems resulting in poor nutrition to the cells, tissues, organs, and systems of our bodies.
To achieve peak performance in any activity requires your body to burn energy. Energy, then, is the byproduct of high performance fuel that will improve the quality of your life and make you healthier than you ever thought possible. In fact, the higher the energy level, the more efficient your body becomes. The more efficient your body becomes, the better you feel. And, the better you feel, the easier it is to achieve the results you are striving for.
So, what is this high performance fuel that will create this abundance of energy for our bodies to burn? The answer is simply the food we eat.
Good nutritional choices play a major role in a healthy weight loss plan. By making small, but effective changes in your daily food intake, you can begin feeling better and improving the quality of your life.
Nutritional science is so confusing and contradictory that to even begin to adapt a universal set of principles to your lifestyle would be nearly impossible. Nevertheless, there are specific key concepts of a well designed healthy weight loss program that include:
Making good food choices can be nutritious, enjoyable and energizing. Dieting not only does not work, but can actually take years off your life. Simple modifications in meal choices can reverse how we age. The program is sensible and easy to maintain even when dining out. Losing weight and body fat is achievable & sustainable without drastic alterations or limitations in your lifestyle. The ideal weight loss program will take a balanced approach to nutrition. By incorporating medically sound and scientifically based research into a healthy plan, your program will not only be effective, but also easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. The two main components of the medically sound nutrition plan include:
Macronutrient combination Stabile blood sugar
Through the prescribed combination of both macro- and micronutrients, the entire nutritional puzzle is solved. The macronutrients make up the vast bulk and balance of our diets and are found in whole foods. The micronutrients are found within the macronutrients and will be discussed in a supplemental article. The primary macronutrients found in our foods include:
Proteins Carbohydrates Fats Your understanding of each of these components and how you combine them in the foods you eat will determine how successful your overall outcome will be.
Proteins contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of your body. Your body can utilize proteins to maintain immune strength as well as to build and repair muscle tissue. Simply put, the greater the muscle mass, the more calories your body will burn. Proteins also promote the release of glucagon, a powerful fat burning hormone.
How much protein should you eat and what are the best sources?
For each individual, the amount of protein may vary. In general, active individuals should consume at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. A sustainable nutrition plan understands the importance of protein as it relates to muscle building and fat burning and will usually recommend meal plans that are 50% protein. We have found this combination to be the best at optimizing fat loss and losing weight.
When selecting protein sources, ideally, you want to opt for protein sources that are low in fat. Protein sources that are the most desirable include chicken, turkey, fish, whey protein and low fat soy and dairy products. Current studies have shown that incorporating these nourishing proteins in your daily nutritional regimen can help slow the ageing process and prolong your life. Because a greater protein intake is encouraged, proper hydration must also be maintained. For protein to be effectively broken down and utilized by our body, appropriate water intake is a must.
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for your body. Unfortunately, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Your body processes simple and complex carbohydrates differently. As a result, your energy level, mood, and metabolic processes are all influenced by your choice of carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are the refined sugars. Common sweeteners such as honey, table sugar and brown sugar are considered simple sugars. What many people do not know is that alcohol, white bread, pasta, and fruit juice are also simple sugars. These foods when digested, are converted to glucose (sugar), and cause an immediate rise in your blood sugar level. With a spike in your sugar levels, insulin is released, which converts these excess sugars to fat.
Complex carbohydrates are eventually broken down into sugar, however, the process by which this occurs differs from simple carbohydrate break down. Complex carbohydrates assimilate into our system at a much slower rate. As a result, blood sugar stability is maintained and insulin levels remain at normal levels. Typically, complex carbohydrates are high in fiber, low in sugar and have a low glycemic index rating. Examples of high quality carbohydrates include broccoli, cauliflower, apples, oranges, whole grain breads, beans and sweet potatoes.
How much carbohydrate should you eat and what are the best sources?
The best sources of complex carbohydrates are raw, non-starchy vegetables and whole fruits. These foods are high in fiber, which is critical for elimination and stable blood sugar. In addition, complex carbohydrates are your best source of glucose, which is the only fuel your brain can burn. Complex carbohydrates are also involved in assisting the body in burning fat and antioxidants, necessary for disease prevention.
Recommendations on the amount of carbohydrates needed by the body will vary. For the most part, however, a healthy meal plan will usually recommend at least 1 cup of carbohydrates per meal. This should account for about 30% of your total food consumption
As Americans we consume almost 35% of our daily calories from fat. Most often this is saturated fat. Studies have shown that consuming a diet high in saturated fat can lead to heart disease and decreased immune function. In other words, consuming foods high in saturated fat will shorten your life.
An important point to remember is that consuming the right kind of fat can be beneficial in your attempt to manage your weight, and live an enhanced lifestyle. These fats and oils speed up metabolism, regulate your hormones, facilitate fat burning, and strengthen your immune system. Of particular importance is role essential fats and oils play in stabilizing blood sugar levels by slowing the emptying of the stomach. Essential fats provide you with:
Concentrated energy Compounds needed for cellular metabolism Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, which aid in the burning of fat How much essential fat should you eat and what are the best sources? Essential fats occur naturally and do not undergo any additional processing. Examples of foods that contain these valuable essential fats include fish such as salmon and tuna, raw nuts, avocados, flax seed oils and olive oil. The best sources of essential fats and oils come from plants. Most healthy weight loss plans recommend that no more than 20% of your diet come from fat. This translates to a minimum of 1 2 tablespoons of raw oil, or ¼ cup of raw seeds or nuts, or 1 2 tablespoons of raw nut butter per meal.
A solid healthy weight loss program will add years to your life and provide you with an abundance of energy.
Part 2 of this article will discuss the concept of stable blood sugar.