The following guidelines are presented as a Nutrition 101 primer on the basics of nutrition for effective weight control and good health.
1) Drink at least 64 oz. of water every day. This is in addition to any other liquids you consume. Water is vital for optimum health, for maintaining correct fluid levels in the body, and for proper weight control (simply drinking enough water can help you burn fat).
2) Eat several meals spaced throughout the day. By supplying your body with adequate nutrition periodically throughout the day you will ensure an available pool of amino acids for cellular growth and repair and adequate carbohydrates for energy, as well as helping to stabilize blood sugar levels which, in turn, promotes higher energy levels and regulates hunger.
3) Eat sufficient protein. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. Protein is needed for growth and repair of tissues, synthesis of hormones and enzymes, and is used as a secondary source of energy. Protein is also an aid in stimulating metabolism. A simple guideline for protein intake for healthy individuals is to consume protein every time you eat. Good sources of protein include fish, chicken, turkey, lean red meat, low-fat and non-fat dairy products, eggs, and egg whites.
4) Eat sufficient natural, complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body. They are also protein sparing in that dietary protein and/or lean tissue is not used as an energy source if adequate stores of carbohydrate are available (in the absence of adequate protein stores, amino acids and even lean tissue can be converted to glucose via the process of gluconeogenesis).
Natural, complex carbohydrates are high in vitamins and minerals and fiber and low in fat. Preferred sources of carbohydrates include: vegetables, whole grains, fruit and starches such as rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole grain breads and whole grain cereals. Simple sugars and processed carbohydrate foods (cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, etc.) are the carbs to minimize or even avoid completely.
5) Limit dietary fat. Fat provides a concentrated source of stored energy and is vital for a number of functions within the body, including the absorption and transportation of fat soluble vitamins and the formation of hormones. While diets high in saturated fat, have been linked to a number of health risk factors, a certain amount of dietary fat is necessary. A healthy diet will provide a certain amount of fat from chicken, lean meat, seafood, and dairy products. Other recommended sources of fat include fish oils, alpha-linolenic acid and flaxseed oil
6) Take a vitamin/mineral supplement. Most people do not eat a diet that contains all the essential nutrients in the proper amounts, particularly the recommended daily allowances of vegetables and fruits. Even with a ‘balanced’ diet, it is difficult to get the full range of vitamins and minerals required for optimum health and wellness. A good vitamin and mineral supplement might be looked on as a convenient and inexpensive form of nutrition insurance.