If you have set a wellness goal to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, congratulations. Losing weight by eating a balanced diet, and increasing physical activity is the right path to avoid the health implications of obesity, and increased risks for chronic, and sometimes life-threatening diseases like cancer and diabetes. If we were to simply weight loss strategy in minimalist terms, the recipe for success is to simply ‘eat less’ and ‘move more’, but we know that lifestyle influences, economics and heredity all play a factor in weight management that the scientific community doesn’t fully understand yet. What we do know however from decades of research, is that as we age, maintaining a healthy weight becomes harder. And if weight is a health concern, there is no better time than today, to work on achieving your goal to feel better.
While there is no shortage of products available to promote weight loss, and an abundance of fad diets that promise rapid weight loss, the most successful individuals can shed the weight by not depriving themselves of food. Instead, they approach nutrition from a more scientific perspective, and spend time learning about daily requirements and needs. In this article, we’ll discuss how a balanced diet is key.
Why It’s a Bad Idea to Skip Breakfast
Some medical studies have demonstrated that individuals who skip breakfast, impair their digestive system, making it more difficult to absorb minerals and nutrients from both dietary sources and supplements. This is an important revelation for anyone who takes quality supplements daily; if you aren’t eating breakfast, you may be receiving only a fraction of the benefit of your nutritional supplements.
People who routinely eat a healthy breakfast, enjoy a metabolic boost that follows them throughout their day. The number of calories that your body needs to function, is called the basal metabolic rate. This figure is impacted by your body weight, the type of frame you have, and your age, which dictate how approximately 75% of your dietary intake calories are burned, daily. About 25% of the basal metabolic rate is reserved for normal physical activities of daily living.
When your mom told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, she wasn’t wrong. Eating a balanced breakfast including a protein, fruit and some carbohydrates, kick starts the fuel burning center of your metabolism, called thermogenesis. If you continue to recharge with small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day, the metabolic state of thermogenesis will help you efficiently burn calories, and fat (if you consume less nutrients than you burn).
Check out this article on Shape Magazine for some healthy and delicious ‘power bowls’ for a fun twist on a balanced breakfast, you can make ahead of time. And if you think that skipping breakfast is an effective strategy for weight loss, consider that experts agree, that small regular snacks throughout the day are your best bet to burn calories more efficiently.
Pick Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
According to surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Management (CDC), only 1 in every 10 Americans hits the minimum daily requirement of fresh fruit and vegetables. Only 13% of residents in the United States consume 1.5 to 2 ups of fruit every day, as suggested by federal dietary guidelines. We all know that fruit and vegetables are important for balanced nutrition, so why aren’t more of us paying closer attention to making better choices, on a daily basis?
Fruits and vegetables are typically low in fat, with few exceptions. That makes them an ideal choice for many diets that need to restrict cholesterol. Fresh fruit is portable, but many types of nutritious vegetables require preparation time, that is less convenient than fast food or processed snack options. The high fiber content of both fruit and vegetables makes them a satisfying meal, which also reduces the temptation to snack on less healthy foods, and overall caloric intake. Which green vegetables and what type of fruits, offer the most nutritional value? Here are a few suggestions to add to your grocery cart:
If midweek preparation is an issue, dietary experts say that portioning healthy fruit and vegetable snacks is easy on the weekend. While smoothies are an excellent way to add more dietary fiber and natural vitamins and minerals into your day, scrutinize the ingredients in your smoothie, to avoid overloading on carbohydrates. Remember to incorporate at least one leafy green into your smoothie, like kale or spinach for important phytonutrients.
Supplements Are Not a Replacement for a Healthy Diet
No matter what supplements you choose, manufactured vitamins should never be viewed as a substitution for a healthy diet. There are many nutrients and minerals that are best absorbed through raw fruits and vegetables, seafood and meat, or meat alternatives for protein, and essential vitamins like B12, thiamin, riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid, and omega fatty acids (essential for anti-aging and cognitive health).
Vitamins and supplements do play an important role in weight loss, as individuals who are dieting may not be hitting the right amount of nutrients, when daily calories are reduced. Remember that quality vitamins bridge the gap between your dietary intake, and what your body needs for healthy functioning. Ask your doctor about the right minerals and nutrients (and quantities) which vary by age, medical condition and any prescription medications that you may be taking.
You can eat wonderful, flavorful options every day, without depriving yourself or feeling hungry, if you strategically plan your intake around the American Dietary Guidelines. For more information, visit the USDA website ChooseMyPlate.gov.