Understanding the basics of food, health, and fitness is essential to successful diet weight control. Whether you have been on more than one diet in your lifetime, or are simply interested in optimal health and weight control, the roles of nutrition, sugar, fat, and exercise are interwoven into the process of maintaining a healthy weight. By identifying diet control foods that keep you nutritionally on track, you can put yourself on the path to long-term success.
The Role of Nutrition
Nutrition is the vitamins, minerals, and even fats we need to sustain life. We typically get those nutrients through the foods we eat. Some of the vitamins and minerals we need are stored in our body tissue until they are needed, while others are eliminated when not readily used.
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) provides a RDA (recommended daily allowance) of the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health. Balancing the proper amounts of nutrients, with healthy fats and carbohydrates, outlines the basics of a nutrition diet.
The Role of Sugar
Our bodies require a certain amount of sugar (what turns into glucose in our bodies) to produce the energy for our daily activities. Unused sugar in the body is stored as fat. So it’s important to consume only the sugar needed for healthy daily activity, in order to control your weight. For weight loss, it’s necessary to burn existing fat stores, and that means lowering your daily sugar intake.
Most sugars we eat come from carbohydrates, but not all carbs effect our bodies in the same way. The glycemic index (GI) actually ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Low GI carbs only produce small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels. The small fluctuations reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and play a key role in sustainable weight loss. A glycemic index diet allows you to track daily the proper amount of carbohydrates you can eat for the level of weight loss or maintenance you want to achieve.
The Role of Fats
Just as different carbs have different effects on our bodies, different fats also have different effects. Healthy fats help lower bad cholesterol levels in our body and provide Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies can not synthesize for themselves. Healthy fats include unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, with a smaller number of polyunsaturated fats allowed (since these fats reduce both the good and bad cholesterol levels in our bodies).
Unhealthy fats raise bad cholesterol in our bodies, increase inflammation in the body, and reduce blood vessel function. They can be found in trans fats and saturated fats you’ll see in most processed foods and animal fats. However, all fats, good or bad, have calories. So increasing the healthy fats you’ll find in vegetable oils and oily fish, while drastically decreasing the amounts of unhealthy fats from processed foods and fatty red meats (plus limiting your carb calories) is the core of a calorie control diet.
The Role of Exercise
Exercise plays a key role in weight control and optimal body health. Our bodies need energy to function, and they need higher levels of energy for more demanding levels of physical activity. We burn sugars and fats stored in our bodies from the foods we eat to meet the necessary energy demands of our bodies. So balancing physical exercise with the amounts of food-energy we take in is the optimal way to achieve overall health and fitness. By incorporating physical exercise into our weekly activities, we place demands on our bodies to efficiently use the energy that it is storing from our foods.