Understanding food: What you put in is what you get out.
Food is an essential part of our lives as it fuels our system, optimises our performance and it plays an important role in our health status.
Your understanding of healthy foods and their function is a priority before you start you start your weightless journey. This will have a positive impact on your ability to stick to the food options and it will help you to select good food preparation methods.
Nutrition is the process of consuming and absorbing food sufficiently into the system, so that the body can use the necessary raw materials to stimulate growth, improve your energy levels and to enhance recovery. Vitamins and minerals keep your system healthy and enhance optimal functioning.
Your focus should be on selecting food groups that are as close to their most natural source. Fresh vegetables (colour and crunch are important factors), low-GI starch options and lean protein sources are valuable allies in the weight-loss process.
Avoid processed foods, tinned goods, baked products and confectioneries, take-aways and fried meals. Condiments should also be reviewed with a sceptical mindset as these often harbour hidden calories and sodium which are counterproductive to your goals.
What you can drink:
Diet, low-cal and zero sugar beverages are allowed to be consumed in moderation, with 2-3 cans per week, or during social functions being an acceptable volume.
Water is the most ideal beverage of choice as it contains no calories, preservative or additives, and it plays a core role of assisting in hydration and appetite suppression. You can add sliced fruits or freshly squeezed lemon juice to add variety and zest! Avoid all fruit juices as these contain a naturally high level of sugars, yielding a high calorie score. You may consume 2 to 3 cups of coffee/tea a day with skimmed milk or fat free milk, and make use of Xylitol as substitute for sugar, which is widely available in retail stores.
Food is not there to fill you up, but rather to fuel your system. Make sure that you always make wise, healthy choices. The importance of good nutrition and dietary habits cannot be underestimated. Adequate planning and execution of a well balanced, healthy eating plan will benefit you during your journey.
One of the important components of a healthy lifestyle is nutrient timing. We have been made accustomed to eating three large meals daily. Unfortunately due to time constraints on our lifestyles, three meals have become two large meals per day with the majority of people missing breakfast. This cycle perpetuates weight-gain as it does not support a healthy metabolic rate, nor does it support calorie management in your meal plans.
The rule of eating 5-6 smaller, well balanced meals per day is an essential component in helping you achieve lasting weight control. You do not necessarily eat more food than normal; you simply spread your calorie intake more effectively throughout the day.
This way, you don’t overload your body with unnecessary (and unwanted) calories at any one time, your blood sugar levels are well maintained, you suppress your appetite and you fuel your body with exactly what it needs, when it needs it.
Your metabolic rate is the process through which your body absorbs, stores and uses energy for survival. Your metabolic rate is influenced by many factors of your lifestyle, and many of these factors are under your control.
Generally speaking, if you have a slow metabolic rate, you will tend to gain weight easily, storing additional fat mass in the process. The metabolic slowing occurs due to a compounded effect of long-term inactivity, poor food choices and irregular eating times. All of these factors are in your control. You can make significant improvements to how your metabolic rate functions by simply increasing your activity levels, selecting food from healthy sources, and eating at regular time intervals.
You will notice an improved energy level, improved sleep cycles, improved mental state and stress coping ability, as well as increased weight-loss and a significant reduction in the potential risks associated with obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol levels.
Your body needs energy to survive. Your system’s energy requirements are mostly met by your daily food intake. Your body has the ability to store energy as fat, and this reserve can be utilised to supply energy to support life.
Your metabolic rate, the amount of energy you expend and your basic life requirements determine how much food is required to support and fuel your body. It is important that you remain aware of the energy value of the foods that you eat, especially since one ‘cheat’ can add a significant amount of unwanted calories to your system.
The energy value of food is important, but the source of the calories and your portion control takes priority.
The more processed and refined a food option is, the lower the vitamin and mineral value of the food and the higher the Glycemic Index or fat value tends to be.
The Glycemic Index is a factor of measurement of the effects that a specific carbohydrate source has on your blood sugar level.
Processed and refined foods tend to have a drastic effect, elevating blood sugar levels, and increasing the likelihood of fat storage occurring. Unprocessed whole foods tend to have a lower GI level, with a less prominent effect on blood sugar levels, further stimulating an improved metabolic rate and an improved level of weight control.
The energy value of food is measured by the common universal measurements of Calories and Kilojoules. They really represent two different values for the measurement of the same thing; ENERGY.
Both calories and kilojoules are measured per gram of food. For instance:
1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories/ 17 kJ
1g of protein = 4 calories/ 17 kJ
1g of fat = 9 calories/ 37 kJ
1g of alcohol = 7 calories/ 29 kJ
You can significantly reduce the volume of calories you consume by changing the way you prepare your meals. Rather opt to steam and grill foods instead of shallow frying and deep frying them. Sauces, dressings and condiments add large amounts of calories to an otherwise healthy meal, they should be avoided as far as possible.
|Low GI||55 or less||Most fruits and vegetables, legumes, some whole, intact grains, nuts, fructose, kidney beans, beetroot, chickpeas, seed loaf.|
|Medium GI||56–69||Whole wheat products, pita bread, basmati or parboiled rice, grapes, sucrose, raisins, pumpernickel bread, cranberry juice.|
|High GI||70 and above||White bread, most white rice, processed breakfast cereals, warm potatoes.|
The calorie ranges shown in this table allow for the needs of people of different ages within an age group. Adults need fewer calories at older ages. For example, an active 31-year-old man needs about 3,000 daily calories, but an active 50-year-old man needs only about 2,200-2,800 calories.
|FEMALE||19-30||2000||2000 – 2200||2400|
|FEMALE||31-50||1600||1800||2000 – 2200|
|MALE||19-30||2400||2600 – 2800||3000|
|MALE||31-50||2200||2400 – 2600||2800 – 3000|
- Sedentary means you have a lifestyle that includes only light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life
- Moderately active means you have a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 2 to 5 km per day at 5 to 6 km per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life
- Active means you have a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more
Courtesy of USN.