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Nutrition 101 - Be Ready To Take Notes

Jan 29, 2008
Today, it is a well known fact that a well balanced and nutritious diet is the key to maintaining optimal health but with the numerous fad diets around these days it becomes very difficult to choose what food is good and what isn't.

Though there are many controversial studies, one thing that is clear is that a healthy diet requires all the four basic food groups in the appropriate amounts. On an average, adult men need between 2000-2500 calories while the range is a little lower for women and those seeking rapid weight loss. However, most people aren't aware that 50% of these calories should come from Carbohydrates, while 30% should be supplied in the form of fats and only 20% comes from protein.

Carbohydrates are essential to produce energy in the body. Simple sugars such as fructose and glucose are broken down rapidly by the intestine and absorbed. One the other hand complex carbohydrates such as starches especially those found in potatoes take longer to break down but are also healthy if consumed in moderation.

The chemical constitution of fats are similar to carbohydrates in the sense that they contain fatty acids that are essential to health. Proteins are broken down to form amino acids that in turn recombine to form proteins used in muscles and other structures.

Since meat is a good source of protein, consuming about 3 ounces of meat per meal is enough for an average sized person. A cup of pasta has just the right amount of carbohydrates while two cups of green leafy vegetables supply the body with adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Thus, a balanced meal can ideally consist of one serving of meat or other protein source,starchy carbs like pasta,rice,corn or potatoes and fruit to provide the required fiber. Try and avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar such as butter and sauces.

While trying to lose weight and maintain a balanced diet at the same time, one should be aware of what sources are high in which food group.

For example one gram of fat contains 9 calories which is almost double compared to other energy sources so one should try and avoid consuming too many foods that are rich in fat. This in the long run will also help lower cholesterol levels.

All carbohydrate sources contain only 4 calories per gram. But some healthy sources even contain fiber,vitamins and minerals.Some examples of such sources are fruits (especially apples,pears and peaches), nuts(walnuts are generally lower in fat as compared to peanuts and cashews) and grains .

The main reason why eating excessive amounts of candy is considered bad is because it is extremely high in fat and sugar and very low in helpful nutrients. An adequate amount of fat and sugar is in fact essential to optimal health but when consumed in excess quantities they contain a lot of empty calories that is unhealthy for the body.

For example a single snickers bar contains almost 63g of fat, 53g of sugar and only 2g of fiber. In contrast a cup of broccoli contains only 6g total of which 2.5g are fiber and only 1.5g are sugars which is a lot healthier.

The key to weight loss is to monitor your diet.Make a list of items that you include in your diet and the number of calories they contain. This will help you keep track of the helpful nutrients you're consuming and will also prevent you from consuming foods that are very rich in fat and sugars.
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