As a nutritionist, I often get the following questions: What can I do to lose my beer belly? What do I eat to lose 10 pounds? Should I not eat carbohydrates? Through this article, I aim to demystify the subject of weight loss, and what foods provide the most bang for your buck in regards to satiety, calories and flavor.
Let’s Get Started!
In order to become an informed consumer, there are terms you need to become acquainted that will help you when reading nutritional labels.
The body is composed of macromolecules that regulate weight gain, loss as well as formation of muscle and breakdown. There are four macromolecules in total found in the human body, however from a nutritional aspect we are interested in the following three: proteins, carbohydrates and lipids (fats).
This term is thrown around a lot in the fitness and nutritional industry, from protein powder to protein bars. Protein essentially refers to the nutrient in charge of forming new body tissue and muscle. A high protein diet can help an athlete increase muscle mass, but any excess along with a lack of physical activity may promote storage and cause you to gain weight.
Following a balanced diet with adequate protein and a fitness plan, you can increase muscle mass while also speeding up your metabolism allowing you to get leaner and toned.
Where do I get protein?
It’s best to avoid cured meats (ham, sausages, etc) because of the high sodium content.
Should I avoid carbohydrates? What do you think of the Atkin’s diet? Those are some of the most common questions I am asked. However, before I’m able to answer this question you must understand what a carbohydrate is and the purpose they serve in the body. There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates refers to sugars, often found in processed foods, sodas, chips, donuts and even fruits. These carbohydrates are called simple, because of their rather simple structure and are broken down quickly by the body and used for quick energy, the reason for which you get a sugar crash after eating too much candy.
Complex carbohydrates on the other hand refers to the healthier option such as: whole grain bread, oatmeal and vegetables. This option is preferable over simple carbohydrates when it comes to fitness because it provides it requires energy to digest these foods therefore speeding up your metabolism helping with weight loss.
So Should I Avoid Carbohydrates?
The answer to that is not a straightforward one. You should consume complex carbohydrates while you avoid simple carbohydrates because they promote weight gain and have adverse effects such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other metabolic disorders as specified in the article “Glycemic Index, Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity.” The reference to simple carbohydrates applies mostly to those processed sugars rather than fruits. Fruits are composed of antioxidants and nutrients that promote health, however eating them may be detrimental to weight loss if not eaten at appropriate times. Fruits are best consumed upon waking up and after an exhausting workout in order to obtain energy while preventing weight gain. The best sources of complex carbohydrates are: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain products and green vegetables.
Both nutrients are important for weight loss as well as muscle mass gain. They provide nutrients used in muscle synthesis while preventing cardiovascular diseases and the risk of malnutrition. Before you decide on hopping on the new diet trend, think about the importance of these nutrients and their role in health. Focus on what you eat, rather than on the scale.
What about fats?
On the next article I will be discussing the importance of fat consumption in relation to weight loss and fitness.