7 Nutrition Basics to Eat Healthier

If you don't get the nutrition basics down, you are getting off on the wrong foot when trying to improve your health, burn fat and lose weight.


Here are 7 nutrition basics you need get and keep a healthy body:

1. What puts weight on your body? Consume more calories than you burn (caloric surplus). Want to lose weight? Create a caloric deficit (burn more calories than you consume) on most days. That is the law of thermodynamics. So what makes this such a complex process?

Cutting calories to help reach your fat loss and weight loss goals is not as easy as “just doing the math.” You need a healthy meal plan to start the process. After that, you will make many adjustments until you know how different foods affect your body.

Don’t think you can just eat 1,000 calories every day and continue to lose weight (because you have a caloric deficit). This tactic will only work for a short time. Your body doesn’t know you’re on some crazy diet. It thinks you are starving, so it goes into survival mode and stores body fat. Many of you have wrecked your metabolisms by eating too few calories during the day (month after month).

2. Calories are just units of energy in the form of food and drink. Consider these facts:

--one gram of protein provides 4 calories
--one gram of carbohydrates provides 4 calories
--one gram of fat provides 9 calories
--one gram of alcohol provides 7 calories
--vitamins and minerals don't provide any calories
--water provides no calories

You don't need to strictly count calories but you need to have a good handle on how much you are eating every day. Its handy to keep a food journal for a week or so to give you guidance and feedback on what and why you are eating.

Depending on your goals, you may want to gain weight (such as athletes) or lose weight. Proper training will allow you to do either without losing critical muscle mass.

3. What is your basal metabolic rate (i.e., the number of calories you would burn if sitting all day doing nothing)? You will need to know this rate and your activity level because it is important when planning meals to reach your individual training goals. You can't eat as much as you want and burn fat.

For instance, my basal metabolic rate is about 2,000 calories. If I eat 2,000 calories and burn 500 calories through exercise and daily activity, I will still lose weight and burn fat (500 caloric deficit).

If I starve myself and eat 1,200 calories (1,300 caloric deficit) day after day, my body will rebel and store body fat. A 1,300 caloric deficit is too large (severe calorie restriction).

4. You will find it easier to cut more calories by eating healthy and eating foods with high water content. You will actually be eating more while eating fewer calories. And, you will feel fuller for a longer period (thereby eating less). Foods with fiber fit this category well.

5. Components of a Healthy Diet

Protein

Proteins are the basic building blocks of life. They make up a large part of our foods such as lean meats, nuts and beans. It is very important for building and repairing body tissues, especially after a tough workout. Protein should provide 15-30% of total daily caloric intake, depending on your goals. Include protein in every meal to help you feel fuller for a longer period and to keep your blood sugar levels more steady.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are made mostly of sugars. They are also important to spare protein to build and repair body tissue. Carbs provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances that are important to overall health.

Carbohydrates are not your enemy! They are your body's preferred source of energy (especially during exercise). Its important to have a meal plan that includes the macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats). The primary cause of weight gain is a caloric surplus. There are some instances where carb cycling can be a great strategy to burn fat. But, you should master the basics of nutrition first.

The majority of your carbs should be low glycemic (about 80%) with the rest of your carbs being high glycemic. This means that you should limit eating foods like white potatoes, white bread, corn, pasta, muffins, refined foods and white flour products.

These high glycemic foods encourages fat storage since more sucrose is escorted into the bloodstream quickly. The best time to eat high glycemic carbs is after a tough workout when your body needs quick replenishment (your blood sugar levels won't spike).

Concentrate more on foods like fruits and vegetables which have high fiber and/or water content. Total carbs should provide 55%-60% of total daily caloric intake for moderately active individuals.

Fats

You need fats in your diet for your body to function properly. Fats are also filling. Get about 20% of total daily calories from fats. Eat no trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats found in packaged foods and fast foods). Eating too many (and too often) trans fats will land you in the doctor's office with heart and cholesterol problems!

Focus mainly on eating heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower total cholesterol. Good sources of MUFAs are nuts (especially raw), nut butters, olives, olive oil, avocados, safflower oil, peanut oil.

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are also good for you---especially the omega-3 fats found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout and white tuna. Flaxseed and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3 fats. Eat more omega-3 fats and less omega 6 fats.

Too much omega 6 fat intake can lead to inflammation that causes arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Sources of omega-6 fats are soybean oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, corn oil, sesame oil and cottonseed oil. Conjugated linoleic acid(CLA) fats found in red meat and dairy are also good for you provided they come from grass-fed cattle. Another option would be to supplement your diet with fish oil.

Limit (not eliminate) eating saturated fats like butter. Some sources of saturated fats are healthy, such as from coconut oil. Moderation is the key to eating saturated fats.

Count the calories with fatty foods just like any other food. For example, nuts are good for you but they are loaded with calories. A handful of raw almonds will do the trick for you.

6. Drink plenty of water. It helps you drink less sugary drinks. About 2/3 of your body is water. Drink about half your weight in water every day. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water each day.

Remember, certain foods contain large amounts of water. This counts toward your water intake. For instance watermelon is about 90% water and lettuce has about 95% water. Some meats contain as much as 70% water.

Water also helps your body flex muscles, remove wastes, cushion joints, carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells and helps convert food into energy (although water doesn't provide energy).

You may be experiencing dehydration if you have dry lips/mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea or muscle cramps. When you exercise, drink about a cup of water every 15 minutes.

7. Take needed vitamins and minerals to fill in the holes of your eating habits. Nobody eats perfectly all the time. Discuss the supplements you plan to take with your doctor. Don't try to treat serious medical conditions with supplements. Look at the GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) supplement list published by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Do you want to:
  • Eat Better to be Healthier, Burn More Fat and Lose Permanent Weight?
  • Have Your BEST Looking Body Naked or in Smaller-Sized Clothes?
  • Feel Better than You have Felt in Months or Years?
  • Have the Energy to Accomplish Your Daily Goals?

Be sure and register for my FREE Fast Start Weight Loss Transformation

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About Mark

About Mark

Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.