1. Have you installed the new JSF Mobile app? Check out all the details here.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. One account & one avatar for all of JSF. Unified login and profile. Forum alerts on the main site, and more. Check out the details here: Forum & main site unified account feature is live!
    Dismiss Notice

Nutrition for a Healthy Weight

Discussion in 'Nutrition & Supplements' started by guava, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. guava

    guava Elite Member
    Lifetime Platinum Member

    Feb 15, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Your nutrition requirements will be slightly different, depending on whether your focus is on fat loss, muscle building, or maximum health. In this section, I'll focus on maintaining a healthy weight and body fat percentage, for improved vitality, increased longevity, and reduced risk of disease. I will update with any corrections or clarifications as required.

    What is a healthy weight and body fat percentage for me?
    Typically, it's recommended that a person aim for a body weight which is within a Body Mass Index of 18.5 to 24. See this chart to calculate where you fall. A body mass index that is outside of these ranges is correlated with increased health risks, but does not in itself indicate a health risk. Some people, especially large framed or very muscular people, will look and feel healthier at the higher end of that range (or above) and some people, especially small framed people, will look and feel healthier and the lower end of that range (or below). Leaner people, that is people who have a lower body fat percentage, typically look and feel better at or above the upper "limit".

    There is a wide range of healthy body fat percentages, usually agreed to be between 15 and 31 percent for women, and 6 and 25 percent for men. Numbers near the bottom of this range are not inherently healthier than numbers at the top end of this range, just as a lower body mass is not healthier than a higher one. Women whose body fat percentage falls below this lower limit are more frequently correlated with a greater risk of amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period), which, in turn, is associated with poor bone density and increased risk of fractures. With careful nutrition and exercise habits, body fat percentages outside of these ranges may also be healthy.

    How many calories should I consume to reach or maintain a healthy weight?
    If you choose a proper diet of clean foods, it's not normally required to count calories in order to reach a healthy weight. One food plan that has worked well for many people is The Body-for-Life program which is based on a visual estimation of portion sizes. However, if you find that you feel unusually hungry, irritable, or tired, or if you'd like a more mathematically-based strategy, you might prefer to measure your energy intake and compare it to your estimated energy expenditure. The simplest way to calculate approximately how many calories your body can use is with the help of Tom Venuto's Quick Method.

    Eating for the weight you'd like to become
    Instead of calculating the amount of calories it takes to lose a certain amount of weight over a certain amount of time, it might be preferable to estimate how many calories it might take to maintain your new goal weight. For example, if a person currently weighs 170 pounds. The quick method estimates that it is taking 2550 to 2720 calories to maintain his current weight. It suggests he consume 2040 to 2210 calories for fat loss. Assuming his goal weight is 158 pounds, he might prefer to eat the amount of calories it would take to maintain that weight (approximately 2370 to 2580 calories daily).

    Nutritionists often group nutrients into two subclasses, called macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients refer to those nutrients that form the major portion of your consumption and contribute energy to your diet, namely carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

    Most foods are made up of a combination of all three macronutrients, while other foods may fall mainly into one or two of the categories. For example, chickpeas are a mix of 68% carbohydrates, 13% fat, and 19% protein, while egg whites are 6% carbohydrates, 3% fat, and 91% protein.

    You might see people recommend certain target "macronutrient splits". Our body uses carbohydrates, proteins, and fats differently, and increasing the proportion of one of them in relation to another could help us to reach our preferred body composition. To reach a healthy body weight, I don't believe you need to stick with a specific targeted macronutrient ratio. There are many possible combinations of dietary components that can all lead to improved nutrition and health.

    Carbohydrates provide the body with a source of fuel and energy that is required to carry out daily activities and exercise. Any extra energy is stored in the body until it is needed. Our bodies need a constant supply of energy to function properly and a lack of carbohydrates in the diet can cause tiredness or fatigue, poor mental function and lack of endurance and stamina. Carbohydrates are also important for the correct working of our brain, heart and nervous, digestive and immune systems. Fibre, which is also a form of carbohydrate, is essential for the elimination of waste materials and toxins from the body and helps to keep the intestines disease-free and clean.

    Excess carbohydrate consumption, especially of foods with a high glycemic index (sugary or starchy carbs like potatoes, bread, and baked goods) can dramatically swing our blood sugar levels, leading to erratic patterns in insulin secretion. Many people find that they are better able to stabilize their weight or maintain a low body fat percentage by reducing their carbohydrate intake. Others find unfavorable changes in mood and/or satiatiety/cravings when they attempt to cut back on carbohydrates.

    Proteins are vital to basic cellular and body functions, including cellular regeneration and repair, tissue maintenance and regulation, hormone and enzyme production, fluid balance, and the provision of energy. Protein is used for energy needs of the body after carbohydrate and fat supplies are exhausted.

    Animal proteins, such as eggs, cheese, milk, meat, and fish, are considered high-quality, or complete, proteins because they provide sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids. Plant proteins, such as grain, corn, nuts, vegetables and fruits, are lower-quality, or incomplete, proteins because many plant proteins lack one or more of the essential amino acids, or because they lack a proper balance of amino acids. Incomplete proteins can, however, be combined to provide all the essential amino acids, though combinations of incomplete proteins must be consumed within a short period of time (within four hours), to obtain the maximum nutritive value from the amino acids.

    Fats and lipids play critical roles in the overall functioning of the body, such as in digestion and energy metabolism. Fats are the body's energy provider and energy reserve, which helps the body maintain a constant temperature. Fats and lipids are also involved in the production and regulation of steroid hormones. Steroid hormones are essential in regulating sexuality, reproduction, and development of the human sex organs, as well as in regulating the water balance in the body.

    Saturated Fats. Saturated fats come from animal meat, dairy products, and tropical plants. They tend to be solid or semi-solid at room temperature, and are stable so they do not easily become rancid. They've long been thought to be part of the "bad fats" category because studies have consistently found a correlation between a higher consumption of saturated fats to a higher risk of heart disease. It's now thought by that this particular correlation may not imply causation and that saturated fats can be included in a healthy person's diet.

    Unsaturated Fats. Studies have shown that unsaturated fats help decrease inflammation, reduce heart disease, reduce blood clotting (and/or thick blood), and help regulate blood pressure. Unsaturated fats also lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good cholesterol (HDL). HDL is manufactured by the liver to repair blood vessels and help transport fat-soluble vitamins to the cells of the body. There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.

    Polyunsaturated fats: On nutrition labels, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids show up as polyunsaturated fats (lumped in with nonessential omega-9 fatty acids). Omega 3 and Omega 6 (The essential fatty acids) plus Omega 9 Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) cannot be manufactured in the body like other fatty acids, and must therefore be obtained from dietary sources:

    Many scientists believe that a major reason for the high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some forms of cancer is the profound imbalance between our intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Most people have sufficient intake of omega-6 fatty acids, and thus, should focus their attention on increasing their omega-3 intake accordingly. Omega-3 acids are found in marine plankton, cold water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines, fortified eggs, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil.

    From a health perspective, most typical people should aim to reduce their total fat intake, especially unessential fat, and increase their intake of omega−3 (relative to omega−6) essential fats.

    Mercury and Fish
    Larger fish higher up the food chain will have higher levels of mercury. Eat only small amounts of Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish. Limit consumption of fresh albacore tuna. There is not as much of a concern with canned fish, because smaller and younger fish are usually used in the canning process. Canned albacore or white tuna (which is high in omega-3 fatty acids) can be eaten safely at least three times a week. It might be safer to canned light tuna even more often; skipjack typically has only 1/3 the mercury levels of albacore, but yellowfin mercury levels are sometimes more similar to those in albacore. Unfortunately, neither is as rich a source of omega-3 fatty acids). Choose water-packed tuna rather than oil-packed. The added oil used in canning mixes with some of the tuna's natural fat. When you drain oil-packed tuna, some of its omega 3 fatty acids also go down the drain. Since oil and water don't mix, water-packed tuna won't leach any of its precious omega-3s.

    For optimal health, and to guard against fatigue and illness, you should aim to get a minimum number of each of the essential nutrients in your diet. Click here to see a list of the essential nutrients. To discover where to find each of these nutrients, click on each of the links, read nutrition labels, or keep track of your daily foods on a site such as Fitday.com where you can find a "report" tab to check your intake. If you find that you have some deficiencies that you'd like to correct and aren't sure how, try the food advisor.

    Of course, there is some controversy about what are the "required" and "ideal" amounts of some micronutrients, just as there is debate about what the "correct" macronutrient intake is, so use your best judgement. :)

    Meeting Minimum Recommended Nutrient Intake
    The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, recommends that to meet their particular recommendations for micronutrients, your macronutrient intakes should be within these ranges:

    protein - 10-35% of your total daily calories
    carbohydrate - 45-65% or total calories
    fat 20-35% of total calories
    more than 25 grams of fibre
    (See Chapter 11 in this link for more information about those numbers.)

    Those who eat outside those ranges may find it difficult to meet some of the recommended intakes of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to protect against diseases.

    The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recommend:
    *Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level. Select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
    *Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day.
    *Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.
    *Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
    *Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
    *When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
    *Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
    *Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.
    *Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
    *Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation—defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

    The above is sufficient for anyone who wishes to attain a healthy weight.

    I find that for me following a "superfoods" diet is the easiest way to ensure that I'm meeting the minimum recommended amounts of various nutrients. There are various suggested diets based on different versions of especially nutritient dense foods; the one I use is from a book by Steven G. Pratt.

    Sample menu, about 1500 calories 25% fat, 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein
    meal 1
    oatmeal pancake made with 3 oz silken tofu, 1 egg, 1/2 C oats, 1 T ground flax seeds, 1 T dried cranberries
    1/2 C nonfat yogurt
    meal 2
    bean salad made with 1/2 C kidney beans, 1 T olive oil, 1/2 C barley, 1 tsp chili powder, tiny bit of fresh garlic, 1/2 C red pepper
    meal 3
    1/2 C nonfat yogurt, 1 orange
    meal 4
    1/2 C spinach, 1 tomato, 1 tsp olive oil, lemon juice
    1 stalk steamed broccoli, 4 oz poached chicken breast, baked sweet potato

    Reading Nutrition Labels
    If you check a food label you may find that the total number of calories listed doesn't match the number you arrive at when you multiply the grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in the food by their corresponding energy values. This could be due to a rounding difference, or it could be due to the way fibre is recorded on the label. Insoluble fiber passes through your body without being converted to a form that provides energy, or calories. Knowing this, the manufacturer may subtract the caloric value of the insoluble fiber (but not the soluble fibre) from the total calories figure.

    Nutrition for Hormonal Balance - Maintaining Consistent Moods and Regulating Food Cravings
    Four brain chemicals -- serotonin, catecholamine, GABA and endorphin -- are essential for proper mental health, each affecting a different area of the brain. Our dietary choices can alter these brain chemicals, influencing the degree to which we are irritable, anxious, alert, focused, or otherwise engaged. And on the flip side, an imbalance of these hormones controls what types of foods are appealing to us. If cortisol is high and serotonin is low, you'll seek sugar-based fatty foods like chocolate bars as an attempt to get a quick serotonin fix.

    Many food cravings can be explained by blood sugar imbalances, but emotional and hormonal factors are also contributory factors. Because of their different genetic make-up, women are more often more comfortable with more frequent meals, and with a higher proportion of carbohydrates in their diet than men. Here's a great article on managing food cravings.

    Tips To Maintain a Stable Blood Sugar Level and Reduce Your Food Cravings
    Eat a well balanced breakfast that includes protein
    Eat At Regular Intervals During The Day (at least every three hours)
    Do Not Reduce Your Calorie Intake Below A Safe Level
    Choose Low-GI Carbs For Optimum Blood Sugar Control
    Reduce your intake of refined white flour, heavily processed, very salty, or high sugar foods

    Fighting Hunger Pangs and Cravings: Nutrition for Satiety
    Lots of people ask about what to do if they have set a target caloric intake for optimum fat loss and still feel hungry. In a lot of cases, it may be because their target body mass is lower than what is best for their particular frame, and the calories they've chosen to consume are fewer than what their body needs in order to function smoothly. If your goal is to become leaner, and not necessarily to become smaller, in many cases, adding some lean body mass is a smarter option than cutting body fat. Women in particular often erroneously believe that they need to lose weight in order to look less flabby, when in fact, adding lean body mass would create the same improved body shape.

    Once you've reevaluated your fat loss targets, and checked that you are eating the correct number of calories, you'll want to look at what types of foods make up those calories. In most cases, adding volume to your meals can fix the hunger problem. Three different ways to add volume to your foods without adding calories are by choosing foods with lots of air, lots of water, and lots of fibre. In other cases, shifting your calories to different times of the day or different times of the week can help. Finally, consuming a different balance of macronutrients can affect hunger.

    Volumetrics for Controlling Hunger
    High water foods include soups, gelatins, fruits, and vegetables. High air foods include whipped eggs and popcorn. You might think of high fibre cereals, grains, and breads as good ways to boost your intake, but in reality, they're not the best sources. A person should generally aim for about 25 grams of fibre for each 2000 calories he or she is consuming.

    Excellent food sources of dietary fiber include: turnip greens, mustard greens, cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, Swiss chard and raspberries. Very good sources of dietary fiber include romaine lettuce, celery, spinach, fennel, green beans, eggplant, cranberries, strawberries and flax seeds. Good sources of dietary fiber include cucumber, apricots, navy beans, grapefruit, rye, sweet potato, beets, buckwheat, shiitake mushrooms and oats.

    Caloric Imbalance - Put your calories where you need them
    In periods of increased activity, deflated mood, sickness, and other situations, our energy needs will be different, and we should adjust for them. In particular with women, they will likely feel a greater need for more calories, and more carbohydrates specifically while they are in the premenstrual part of their cycle.

    Macronutrients and Satiety
    WebMD says "Eating protein triggers a natural weight-loss hormone"

    Restricting Food Options can Lead to Lower Calorie Intake
    Energy needs and hunger account for some differences in consumption, but environmental contextual cues can also influence consumption. When given a larger selection of foods to choose from, we will tend to eat more. That's why diets which restrict specific foods or particular food categories can be successful; because they give us fewer options to choose from. If we stay on these types of diets, we can maintain the weight loss, but as soon as we go back to our original habits (or find new foods to substitute for the forbidden ones) the weight will be gained back. Successful weight loss programs usually do not forbid any foods, but rather, suggest that they should be eaten ONLY in specific small portions (eg. Weight Watchers "points") or ONLY at certain time periods (eg. Body fo Life's "cheat meal")

    These books encompass a wide range of health and nutrition topics
    What To Eat by Marion Nestle
    Superfoods Rx by Steven G. Pratt (note: I do not recommend the book "Superfoods Rx Diet, as I feel it has some exaggerated claims)
    YOU: The Owner's Manual by Michael F. Roizen
    The University of Berkely has made available for free its lectures on NS10 Introductory to Human Nutrition.

    Update: I've been reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes
    Since then, I've noticed a lot of bad nutrition information out there. (For example, this morning, I was researching a suggested meal plan for someone with hypoglycemia and found one that offered absolutely terrible advice.) In fact, some of the information I've included in this guide has been disputed by numerous scientists. I would suggest that everyone find a way to read this book, to get a better idea about where many of our dietary advice has come from, and how it has stood the tests of time.
    #1 guava, Mar 19, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
    John Stone likes this.

    GDIHALO Active Member

    Feb 16, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Guava you are super-awesome for this, thanks ever so much.

  3. Aleister bates

    Aleister bates Active Member

    May 25, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Truly priceless info!many thanks.
  4. prajesh09

    prajesh09 Active Member

    Jun 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Great information...Thanks a lot...
  5. healthdiva

    healthdiva Active Member

    Oct 30, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Guava, I just adored your post. I had to register to thank you for such wonderful information. :tu:

    Thank you!
  6. MAD180

    MAD180 Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Awesome post guava. I like to review the basics from time to time to make sure im on track, and this article was great for that!

Share This Page