Diets and Micronutrients

Successfully adjusting your diet to one that makes more sense health-wise does not have to be confusing. A fundamental understanding of micronutrients versus calories will make things so much easier.

Many people focus on diets for weight loss, but exercise is also important. The bottom line you should know about when on special diets is this: it’s about calories in versus calories out. If you take in fewer calories than you burn off through physical activity, than you lose weight. So why all the focus on low-carb diets? It’s the latest focus of attention, even though the program has been around for years. Now it’s in a new form to meet with the times, but it’s less effective than it once was because many people are going about it wrong. They pay no heed to calorie count.

A fat gram has nine calories, and a protein or a carbohydrate gram each contain four calories. That’s right, they contain the same amount of calories per gram. It’s just that certain carbohydrates raise your blood sugar faster; then it crashes and you reach for more food, overeating. Protein has more staying power, but so do fibrous carbohydrates, and they’re a better source of fuel. And what about fat in diets? Fattier food in diets will have more calories.

Read labels and watch for serving size. A small bag of chips might say it has twenty grams of fat per serving. That’s 180 calories from fat alone, right? No, not usually. That little bag alone doesn’t always just contain one serving. It might contain two servings, for example. That would be 360 calories you added to your diet, from just fat.

A note: there are good fats, which should be in people’s diets. These are good for the body and should be eaten in moderation. An example of this would be omega 3-fatty acids found in such diets containing salmon, walnuts, tuna or flax seeds.

Carbs: Be wary of that golden “low-carb” label. Too many calories in diets will cause weight gain, period. Years ago, low-carb diets were lower calorie diets. Now everything seems to say, “low-carb” on the label including the ice cream that’s high in fat for added taste, and therefore high in calories. Gorging on a box of “low-carb” cookies could add more calories to your diet than a fast-food menu. You think it is okay to indulge due to the low-carb content and end up eating a lot more than you intended. There goes the diets.

Heavy meat diets provide a lot of fat and usually lead to neglecting healthy and vital foods such as wonderfully nutritious fruits and vegetables (low in calories, high in fiber, and high in the good carbs which are great fuel for exercise). So beware: if you’re counting carbs in diets, don’t ignore calorie counts (the bottom line for weight loss).

High fiber grains, veggies and enough protein in diets (based on your activity level and weight) lead to better health. These keep blood-sugar levels steady, decreasing the chance of blowing your diet with sugary or high-calorie food.

Are you lowering the carbohydrates in your diets? If so, decrease things like bread, pasta, sugar, chips and cookies, not things found in your garden.