How Eating Healthy Can Benefit You.
Even if you do know how many kilojoules (or calories) you are meant to consume in one day, the formula for which is BMR x PAL, the next step is knowing how many kilojoules are in the food we want to eat. We’ve all heard about carbohydrates, protein and fats, but what are they? How does each type contribute to your body? If 'you are what you eat' then does eating healthy make you look better? The answer to these questions are not that simple as human beings are all individuals, so the onus is on you to work out exactly what your body needs.
The important thing to remember is to be sensible about what you eat, how much you exercise and how certain foods affect your body. As we are all individuals, what works in one way for one person may be different for the next. For example, someone who loves to eat pasta may not have to give it up entirely to lose weight, they may have to reduce the size of their portions so as not to exceed their daily calorie intake. In the second part of this hub there are some recipes and suggestions that may help you on your way to eating less without compromising taste.
We would all love to eat what we wanted all the time; sweets, cakes, junk food, fried foods and sometimes even healthy foods, without having to worry about our health or weight. Even just adding more exercise to your day and not changing the foods you eat will help you to lose some weight, but is this enough? Unfortunately, the answer is no. What you put in your mouth is important if you want to achieve weight loss as well as look good and feel great. Overhauling your whole lifestyle is extremely important in achieving long term weight and health goals.
Essential nutrients and vitamins are contained in healthy food whereas junk food is full of empty calories and has no (or little) nutritional value. Most people may already be eating the right foods but find they still put on weight. This is when you have to look at the portions or amount you are eating. Also, take into account what time you eat because it is best to eat the least amount later at night, therefore, dinner should be smaller portions than lunch. Busy work schedules, lack of time to plan and the ease of being able to buy ready-cooked meals tend to hinder our goal of healthy eating.
The Importance of Keeping Hydrated
Drinking enough water during your day is essential not only to keep hydrated but also to help breakdown the foods we eat. Water can help with weight loss and clear our bodies of unwanted toxins that build up during the day. Exactly how much water you need to consume will depend on your age, weight and activity you do during the day.
There are many different types of flavoured waters available on the market but it is best to just drink ordinary, everyday water from the tap. If that is not available then plain, still bottled water is also good.
A tip – put a bottle of tap water in the freezer overnight and drink from this during the day, cold water always tastes better. Keep it on your desk at work or wherever it's handy for you to get to it.
There is another fat to be aware of – transfats. These harmful fats are contained in highly processed foods such as take away meals (KFC, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, etc), cakes and biscuits, donuts and pastries, candies and chocolates. Basically any of the highly processed and refined foods available at any retail outlet. Food that is easy to overindulge in because of the high fat and sugar content. Better known as 'Junk Food'.
What is Fat?
There are two types of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat is the one to avoid when you are trying to lose weight as it does raise cholesterol levels increasing the risk of heart disease. Sources of this type of fat are found in; fatty beef, poultry (especially in the skin or when fried), butter, whole milk, margarine, coconut oil, palm oil and many other products. Keep an eye on food labels when you are watching your weight.
Unsaturated fat is the better one to focus on and is essential to a healthy weight loss plan. It can be either mono- or poly-unsaturated and both contain essential fatty acids which our bodies need every day. Include the following types of foods in your diet to receive the benefits of these fats – nuts and seeds, fish such as trout, salmon and tuna, avocado, olives, most fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods with saturated fats should make up 20-30% of your daily calories.
Recommeded Dietary Intake (RDI) For Protein
(PROTEIN – CONTAINS 4 CALORIES PER GRAM)
- 0.75g/kg for adult women (0.165lbs)
- 0.84g/kg for adult men (0.185lbs)
Therefore an adult male who weighs 75kg (166lbs) requires 63grams (0.39lbs) of protein daily. So consuming a cheese omelete, some fish and some nuts will give approximately the daily dose of protein for an adult male.
What is Protein?
The human body contains proteins in the brain, muscle, hair, skin and nails with half of the body’s dry weight made up of it. Foods such as chicken, beef, lamb and fish as well as legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) all contain protein which, when digested, release amino acids. These amino acids are converted by the body into hormones such as adrenalin or as a source of energy.
The amount of protein required daily depends on weight, age and health, and in most affluent countries people do not suffer from protein deficiency due to the abundance of the following protein sources:
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Dairy products
- Seeds and nuts
- Beans and lentils
- Soy products
- Grains, especially wheat and less so rice, barley and corn.
Egg products, for example, contain the following amounts of protein:
Raw - 6g 75 calories
Boiled - average 6g 80 calories
Fried in oil - 6g 120 calories
Scrambled (2 eggs + milk) - 14g 170 calories
Poached 1 egg - 6g 80 calories
Scotch egg - 7g 140 calories
Omelette - 10g 128 calories
Omelette + cheese - 17g 240 calories
- Quiche (egg & cheese) - 15g 300 calories
What are Carbohydrates (carbs)?
Carbs give our bodies energy and provide us with vitamins and minerals. There are two types of carbs – simple and complex.
Simple – Foods which quickly convert into blood sugar such as; lollies & sweets, fructose (sugars in fruit), sugar, some types of breads (especially white), pasta, cakes and pastries, fruit juices.
Complex – Foods which slowly convert into blood sugar such as: whole grains, muesli, whole grain breads, apples, potatoes, yoghurts (unsweetened), salad greens, tomatoes and most vegetables.
Once you understand how the body converts carbs and at what rate, you will be able to use the Glycaemic Index (GI) in assisting you with your weight loss goals. Consuming foods (usually complex carbs) with a low GI will slowly convert into blood sugar and won't sit in your system as fat, therefore, it makes sense to eat more complex carbohydrates. Another bonus is that complex carbs tend to keep your appetite under control making you less likely to snack between meals as you will feel fuller for longer. Carbs should make up 50-60% of your daily calories.
You are able to include Alcohol in a healthy weight plan but as always moderation is important. Understand that alcohol will add to your daily calorie count so keep that in mind when reaching for that second glass.
Note: The collage of photos is copyright to MPG Narratives. The photo of strawberries was taken by Aleksandar Momirov who shares photos on freerangstock.com
Healthy Food Suggestions
- Oats – not very appetising on their own but add fruit such as bananas or strawberries, add a dash of cinnamon and watch your cholesterol levels fall. Oats are a super food.
- Scrambled eggs – eat with wholemeal toast and a little cracked sea salt.
- Turkey bacon – less fat than normal bacon
- Whole grain pancakes, waffles, muffins or toast
- Any type of fresh fruit
- Healthy cereals with low fat milk. Look at labels on the pack and check the sugar levels.
- Tuna salad - add boiled rice, corn, peas, fresh asparagus and cherry tomatoes to tuna with a little lemon juice.
- Chicken salad – include carrots, avocado, tomato, beetroot, cucumbers and spanish onion.
- Vegetarian Pizza – buy wholemeal pizza bases and top with low fat cheese, artichokes, eggplant, rocket, onion, olives.
- Tuna salad sandwiches – only 290 calories as long as you don’t add butter or mayo.
- Pita bread – around 260 calories when filled with turkey, chicken or low fat ham, low fat cheese, onion, lettuce and tomato.
- Salads – any type of salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Use specialty hydroponic lettuces, alfalfa and other sprouts to add extra variety and crunch.
Tossed Salad (40 calories)
Replace mid afternoon snacks with a leafy salad loaded with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and sliced radish and avocado. Add any low-calorie dressing or make your own vinaigrette.
Raisin Bread (60 calories)
Why eat biscuits or chips (fries) when toasted raisin bread with a low cal spread is so low in fat and very tasty? Satisfies sugar cravings too.
Fruit Salad (1 cup - 50 calories)
Fruit salad is a perfect pick me up. Great for breakfast or a healthy snack anytime. Fresh fruit is best but you can buy low GI tinned fruit if the fruit you like is not in season.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Maria Giunta