The word ‘diet’ gets a bad rap. A part of that is due to all the ‘crash-diets’ that range in popularity, such as a ‘no-carb’ diet. Besides checking with your doctor on how healthy a certain diet is for you, keep in mind some basic requirements of the human body.
(what your body uses as energy)
The way any weight-loss diet works is the same, you have to lower the amount of calories you ingest on a daily basis. A healthy weight loss program combines both the lower caloric intake and doing more exercise (cardio/weight training) than normal. The reason for this is to burn more calories than you are taking in, hence, weight loss.
But it is important to remember that in your calorie-restriction that your body needs a certain amount of calories daily just for basic organ function. You can find a more in depth chart on age/gender/activity level caloric needs on Health.Gov.
The body’s main source of fuel is carbohydrates. One of the reasons so many diets opt for cutting out carbohydrates is because when we do not burn all of them they are stored as fat for backup energy. Cutting out carbs is almost like a preemptive strike against fat, but it can also make you much more tired than you’d think – since you would be cutting out a big source of energy for yourself.
Your daily diet should include 45 to 65 percent of your calorie intake as carbohydrates, and at least 130 grams of carbs per day.
You can think of your body like a wood burning furnace, when you replace the logs (carbohydrates) with smaller pieces of wood (or less carbohydrates) your furnace will not be burning as hot as it was before.
Protein can be found all throughout the body, but it is commonly associated with many weight loss programs. Excess protein isn’t stored or turned into fat, we just get rid of excess protein the way we get rid of other excess nutrients – by going to the bathroom.
The National Academy of Medicine recommends .8g of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight per day. Depending on your age, gender, activity level and dietary goals this may vary. One constant is that you will need to stay well-hydrated in order for the protein to actually travel to the parts of the body it needs to and to keep yourself at a healthy hydration level.
Always keep in mind that your body is like a city, and the transportation system is your blood that works in combination with water, in order to drop off and pick up nutrients at various ‘stops’ to help your body function as normally as possible.
While fat has become almost like a bad word – it is important to remember that our bodies need certain types of fat. From using fat as stored energy for exercise or physical exertion to making sure you can stay a little warmer during the winter, fat has many positive aspects to it.
Bad fats such as trans fats (which come from partially hydrogenated oils) are ‘bad’ because they are known to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including Omega-3s and omega-6s) are good fats. They are anti-inflammatory and can prevent chronic disease. You can find more in depth information on fats at ChooseMyPlate.
Before starting any diet – just make sure you do some background research. Not all diets are created equal and neither are we as human beings.