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What You Need to Know About Proteins, Fats, and Carbs

Understanding the components of a healthy diet plan is an important part of making positive changes to your health.  We’ve included some quick tips for you to provoke a conversation, or for you to seek out additional information.

Protein

Proteins are nutrients that help build and maintain healthy muscle, skin, and organs and are made up of amino acids, which are essentially the “building blocks” of muscle. The main sources of protein include meats such as beef, poultry, and fish, and also dairy products, nuts, and legumes (beans). The ideal amount of protein is largely dependent on your exercise goals but the average person should get at least .36 grams per pound of body weight per day (this translates to at least 54 grams for a 150-pound person).

Fat

Certain fats are essential to maintaining health. Fats are classified as either saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. The healthy fats that are part of a healthy diet plan include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These come from sources such as fish, nuts, and heart healthy oils such as olive oil. The type of fat that you should be eating in very limited quantities is trans fat. Trans fats are one of the main causes of high cholesterol and lead to many other health problems and diseases. As a general rule, try not to eat any foods with trans fat. Saturated fats should also be eaten in moderation.

Carbohydrates

Carbs have been the topic of much discussion the past few years, with the Atkins and South Beach Diets gaining popularity. Carbs provides the “fuel” for your body and are the primary source of energy. They are found in fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, grains, legumes, and sweets. You DO NOT have to cut carbs out of your diet in order to lose weight.

The carbs you want to be avoiding are the refined and processed foods such as white bread, white flour, white rice, white pasta, sugary sodas and snacks, and other processed foods. These have been stripped of their natural whole grains and much of their nutritional content and may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.

Carbs that are part of a healthy diet plan include fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grain products such as oatmeal, whole wheat and multi-grain pasta, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.  (Talk to Michelle for more alternatives). The higher the fiber content the better (see below). Some people consider potatoes to be a source of “bad” carbs because of their high starch content but potatoes are actually very high in vitamin C and potassium so they are okay as long as you eat them in limited quantities.

Fiber

Fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber travels through the intestines intact. If you’re a woman, you should be eating over 20 grams of fiber per day (ideally in the mid-twenties) and if you’re a man you should be eating over 35 grams per day. Fiber is a crucial component of a healthy diet plan and has a ton of health benefits, including helping you lose more weight by maker you feel more full, preventing constipation, controlling blood sugar, lowering your risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes, and many digestive disorders.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are natural substances found in plants and animals that are necessary to sustain life. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, B (multiple B vitamin), C, D, E, and K. Minerals come from the soil and water and include calcium, chromium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and iron. It is recommended to take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (such as One-a-Day). The fact is, many people have trouble getting the recommended amount of vitamins and nutrition and a multi-vitamin is a great way to combat this. Aim for a multi-vitamin that has close to 100% of each of the 13 essential vitamins. Your body doesn’t need 2000% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin C, so when you see numbers like these, be wary.

Water

Everyone knows drinking water should be part of a healthy diet plan. So just how much should you drink? Most people have heard of the 8 glasses per day rule, which if fine, but here are two good reasons for drinking more than this: 1. drinking more water decreases your appetite, and 2. drinking 72 extra ounces of water per day increases your metabolism and burns about 100 extra calories. Another little-known fact: by drinking ice water, your body burns roughly 8 extra calories per 8 ounce glass.

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