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Nutrition & Dieting

If you are looking for some practical diet program, sorry, this page will be a disappointment for you. Why? Diets simply don't work. However, here you will find some helpful advice on how to eat healthily and lose weight -- the natural way. Or by simply paying attention to what you eat each day, how much and how often.

Why Diets Don't Work

Ever heard of a negative energy balance? That's exactly what diets do to you -- they lower your caloric intake below the basal metabolic rate which creates a negative energy balance. You will lose weight, but it will be a muscle loss. How?

Food gives you energy. When you have less energy than is required, the body thinks it is starving and burns muscle to fuel its energy requirements. In doing so, it actually slows down its metabolism ( the rate at which you are burning calories). When going through a process of starvation, the body will store whatever it can as body-fat to protect itself. It will also respond to a threat of starvation by increasing the fat-depositing enzymes which in turn store more fat.

So why do you gain weight after you've lost it? By lowering the metabolism, your body requires fewer calories. When you get off a diet, your body starts craving for all it was missing. Therefore, your calorie consumption increases and you gain back more fat than lean muscle mass. Even if you eat the same amount of calories as you did before the diet, you will not maintain your weight, because you've lost your lean muscle mass. In fact, because your caloric needs decrease, you will end up gaining weight!

This explains the yo-yo dieting effect. With or without physical activity, the after-dieting process is followed by a rebound weight to a higher level than before. Your body gains more fat as caloric needs fall, making each following diet yet more difficult.

By dieting you are doing yourself more harm than good. Diets simply don't work! You need energy as much as your body needs its daily natural resources -- fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water, all of which no diet can replace.

A New Healthy Way of Living

So, you want to lose weight. There are actually two parts to that: Exercise and the right nutrition. Exercising at the right intensity will reduce your weight and add to your energy. The right nutrition will naturally reduce your weight without giving you the feeling of hunger or stress.

A few things you need to know about nutrition will be presented here. First off, remember that patience is the key. Adjusting to a new lifestyle does take time. Also, don't expect to lose more than 2 lbs per week -- that's the most your body can handle. The benefit of this is your your weight loss is permanent -- if you stick to the program, you won't gain it back. Excited? So, let's get started!

Why We Eat

We need food every day. It supplies us with energy. It also gives us the essential vitamins and minerals needed to sustain life. These three sentences briefly sum up why we eat. We can also choose to eat.

Food is a pleasure. It is a center of many activities. There is so much for us to appreciate about food -- its taste, smell, the way it looks. Food reminds us that we are alive. And we can enjoy it alone or with others.

Food can become a drug. It can cure depression and relieve stress, or so we are mistakenly led to beleive. In this case, food acts like a placebo to our minds, and the problem remains unanswered deeper within ourselves. This should become your Goal #1: figure out when you have "snack attacks" and try to get down to the problem, instead of putting on those pounds! This is called the emotional side of eating. You need to be able to recognize, examine and cure it. A good idea would be to keep a log of why you ate and how you felt while doing so. Later you will see the pattern and it will help you uncover the reasons why you overeat.

Goal #2: Eat a low-fat, balanced diet each day.

We actually do need some fat in our diets. Fat has a variety of functions in our body, including assisting digestion, increasing immunity to disease, transporting cholesterol and making hormones. The problem with fat is we get too much of it in our diets. Therefore, reducing the amount of fat in our diets is essential not only for weight loss, but also for overall health. Your goals should be to reduce the amount of fat intake down to 20-50 grams per day. Why such a range? Each one of us has different energy needs, body compositions and chemistries. Keep in mind that what works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another.

It may be hard for some to reduce their fat intake down to 50 grams a day. Do it over time. Every day try to reduce the amount of your fat intake considerably. Start keeping track of fat in your diet. You will need to count fat grams for a while. Within three months, most people no longer need to do this and know approximately how many fat calories they eat. The new Food Label will help you get through the process.

What to Eat and How Much

The most convenient system for this is the Food Guide Pyramid. Keep in mind that the pyramid is a guideline. Therefore, it will be up to you to find the right amount of servings within each group, given your metabolism (the rate at which your body uses energy) and weight-loss goals.

The Food Guide Pyramid was not developed for people who are specifically losing weight. However, here are a few points for those who are:

Eating to the Point of Fullness

Is not necessary. It is actually good to eat only when you are hungry. In doing so, you will be able to recognize the feeling of hunger and eat only when you feel hungry. If you fill yourself up each time, you will lose that feeling. This will cause you to eat any time you think you want to eat, or see a delicious food, when in reality you are not hungry. You are actually saving yourself calories! Therefore, at the end of each meal, get into the habit of asking yourself if you are full or satisfied.

Goal #3: Three Meals and Two Snacks a Day.

Eating increases your metabolism. Therefore by eating two snacks and three meals a day you simply spread your metabolism over the day. If you eat one or two large meals a day, you simply give yourself one big energy boost. And for the rest of the day, your metabolism receives little help. However, by spreading your meals throughout the day, you simply give your metabolism a boost at each meal.

If you are a morning jogger, you might find it helpful to eat a little something before you start your workout. This is an extra snack, but will increase your power during the morning performance.

Goal #4: Stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Also, try to eat bigger meals earlier in the day. This is partly because m> of us need more energy during the day than in the evening, and partly because eating two to three hours before bed times will automatically increase your weight by 2-3 pounds.

You might wonder why you can't also add calories at dinner and bedtime to further boost your metabolism? Your metabolism simply does not increase to the same extent late in the day. What actually happens is the calories you accumulate from eating late are just waiting to be converted to fat. It's like your body knows that soon you will go to sleep, and it doesn't want to be "revved up". Therefore, calories eaten before bedtime will be converted to fat more quickly. That's not at all what you want to do, if your goal is to lose weight. If you do hit the area of "midnite munches" often, try to take your mind away from it by planning ahead to do other things. Watch a favorite show, read a book or listen to soothing music -- whatever it is that takes you away from food.

Goal #5: Drink plenty of water.

Six to eight glasses, to be exact. You might be thinking "There's no way I can do that!" But with time and practice everybody can. Especially after you find out how beneficial water is.

Water is essential to life. A person can survive without water for at most three days. That make water the most important nutrient! About 60% of your body weight is water.

Throughout the day we lose plenty of water only for basic body functions. If you've incorporated exercise into your healthy living or weight loss plan, you even lose more. When your body has a shortage of water, you become dehydrated, which can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Dehydration will also affect the body's ability to digest food and metabolize fat. If you are still not convinced of the water's importance, there are yet more reasons why water is important not only to our existence, but also for weight loss:

Don't try to drink all 8 glasses at once. Your body will simply get rid of the excess it doesn't need at the given time. Spread the amount. Drink a glass in the morning, before you exercise, 2 after. One before lunch, one between lunch and dinner, and the last one after dinner. Also, try not to drink water too late in the evening, as it will wake you up during the night.

Good luck!