Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Diet? How What We Eat Helps Our Body Function, and How to Evaluate the Nutritional Content of Food
So You’re Trying To Lose Weight…
First of all, good for you and we’re here to help! But remember: while it’s wonderful to want to look and feel your best, it’s also crucial that you take care of your body during the process. We want to emphasize that a diet isn’t just about shedding pounds, though of course that’s how most people end up on our site. It’s also about doing
what’s going to help your body perform and remain healthy so you’re able to live the lifestyle you want for as long as possible — and look great doing it.
We want you to get the most out of what you’re eating — instead of starving yourself, it’s much more effective (and satisfying!) to focus on what your food can do for you. If you know what you’re eating, you’ll feel more empowered to make a change to a diet that helps you, not holds you back. Keeping a journal of your daily food intake may help you to lose weight more effectively than diet and exercise alone. If you’re holding yourself accountable and aware of what you’re eating, not only will you find it easier to loose weight, you’ll also learn about the nutrients and benefits of the foods you’re putting into your body.
Type any food
We want to help educate you about the content of the foods you eat every day, so we’ve created an easy-to-navigate database containing not just the calorie count on popular foods, but also their nutritional value. With over 9,000 foods logged and divided into 25 different categories, we’ve made it easy to find the information you’re looking for. If you monitor your progress, your calories in and out, and even keep track of what you’ve eaten in the past weeks, (yes, you have to write down your cheat meals!) you’ll be inspired not only to switch up your menu, but you’ll also realize which foods are helping your body and which ones are literally dead weight. Let’s start by summarizing some of the main nutrients your body needs to function — and which foods will keep you satisfied while providing you with essential nutrients to leave you feeling happy and healthy.
Carbohydrates — Not a dirty word!
No matter what anyone tells you, carbs are an essential part of your diet. They are your body’s main source of glucose. Glucose is an essential nutrient as it provides your brain, muscles and organs energy to function. The amount of glucose present in your blood is called your blood sugar level; your blood sugar level is tightly regulated by the hormones insulin and glucagon.
It’s important to remember that many healthy foods, like fruits, nuts, and legumes, contain natural carbohydrates that energize your body. Processed foods, refined carbohydrates, added sugars and syrups are often high in calories or fat and provide little nutritional value. They will also quickly raise your blood glucose levels. It’s important to choose wholefood carbohydrates, these contain vitamins and minerals but more importantly fiber that will leave you feeling more satisfied. These types of carbohydrates help normalize your blood glucose levels as they release glucose into your blood stream at a slow and steady rate. Starchy vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin and legumes are a great source; additionally wholegrains such as brown rice, oats and barley are also a great wholefood carbohydrate option.
Fats — When Names Are Deceiving
Including some goods fats in your diet is great way to stay healthy and incorporating a moderate amount into each meal may help you feel fuller for longer. There are four main types of fats.
Trans-fats: These for the most part are synthetically produced and probably the worst type of dietary fat to consume. Trans fats may increase bad cholesterol (LDL), and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). Many packaged backed goods, chips and fried foods are made using trans fats. If you see partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredients list the product contains trans fats. It is a good idea to try and avoid consuming these types of fats regularly.
Saturated Fats: Saturated fats have a similar composition to trans fats and intake should also be limited. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products such as fatty meat and whole fat dairy. Some plants such as coconut and avocado contain saturated fats however these may not be as detrimental to health as animal sources due to the composition. Saturated fats are ok in small amounts, just try and regulate your daily intake.
Mono and polyunsaturated fats: These are the so-called good fats and have been linked to positive health benefits such as reducing cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds and plant-based oils such as olive oil. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and fish oil supplements, plant based sources include walnuts and flaxseed.
Proteins — Make Sure They’re Included
Everyone knows proteins are essential to good health. Protein is digested and broken down into amino acids after consumption. Amino acids are essential for building and repairing tissues such as hair, fingernails and skin. They also contribute to the production of hormones and enzymes, which is why they are such an important component of a healthy diet. Luckily, there are plenty of options for every lifestyle. In addition to protein powerhouses like lean meat, poultry and eggs, plant sources such as tofu, beans, legumes, quinoa and even dairy all contain high amounts of protein. Try and include more plant-based proteins in your diet as these also contain essential vitamins, mineral and fiber. When choosing animal based proteins try and opt for lean cuts of meat to reduce your saturated fat intake.
Vitamins & Minerals — Know Which Supplements are the Most Effective
These days, it seems like every grocery store has an endless aisle jammed with a variety of supplements — some with familiar names, others with ones you’ve never heard of. (Um, what exactly is St. John’s Wort?) While some supplements have real nutritional value if you are consuming a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables you are unlikely to need them. Keep in mind that the most essential and most effective supplements are Garlic, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B3, and Probiotics. Remember to check with your doctor about which supplements are right for you.
Food Energy — Bringing It All Home
This is a biggie, and a huge part of what we’re all about here. Is your diet a one-way street? Are you choosing foods based on convenience over nutritional value? Try to examine and evaluate everything you eat in terms of the potential nutrients it is going to give your body. Try and make each meal a healthy balance of protein from lean meats and plant sources, whole food carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits and a moderate amount of healthy fats from mono and polyunsaturated oils, avocados, oily fish, seeds and nuts. This combination will leave you felling full and satisfied for a longer period of time and give you all the vitamins, minerals and energy you need. Remember to eat as much as your body requires, don’t eat too little, and don’t over eat too often. It’s ok to indulge every now and then though!
We encourage you to enter the contents of your typical meal or your favorite snack into our database and learn about how to make positive changes in your diet to ensure lasting results that will leave you looking and, more importantly, feeling your best. When you’re done, feel free to browse the rest of our site to learn more about nutrition, connect with others on the same path, and even get some recipe ideas. We’re so glad you’ve found us. Now, let’s get started.