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Angel Offline
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A Guide to Healthy Eating - January 6th 2009, 10:45 PM

Guide to Healthy Eating
Written by her_beautiful_mistake
Updated by CompassionateSoul


Warning: This post includes calorie figures and other indications of body weight and may be triggering. You are advised not to read this post if you are triggered by calorie figures.

Note: This thread is the only place on TeenHelp where it is acceptable to use calorie figures. The rule has no other exceptions. Where posters have asked about recommended calorie intakes, this thread should be linked. Not quoted or similar, linked.

Myth's Busted:
  • Skipping meals will not make you lost weight. Why? When you skip a meal or two each day, your metabolism slows. This makes your body store as much of the food you eat as the one energy store that is easiest to convert back into energy – fat. Fat is most easily accessed by the body when stored around the abdomen, thighs and buttocks.
  • Removing Carbohydrates from your diet will not help you lose weight. Carbohydrates are stored mostly in the muscles as glycogen. Your body can store half a day’s supply of glycogen – hence you can go without eating for a while as your body essentially breaks down muscle and uses the glycogen to feed your body. Basically, you start to consume yourself.
Calories

Adult males should aim for around 2,500 calories day, adult females around 2,000. When under 18, Males need around 2,800 and females around 2,100 – more calories are needed as you are still growing.

To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume, which can be achieved in the following ways:
  • Cardiovascular exercise is an efficient way to burn calories and it also burns the most fat in one sitting.
  • Weight training, however, will burn more calories long term. You are still burning calories after you finish working out, usually for days, depending on the intensity of your workout. Once you have that muscle, you will not lose the muscle so long as you keep them nourished (more on that later).
  • Combine a little of both, and you will be able to physically SEE results within 6 weeks. If you are already an active person, it will take more effort.
Metabolism

If you are someone who wants to do the above (lose weight) this section is a must read. Many people overlook their metabolism and jump to getting rid of all the fat in their diet, or all the carbs, which are big mistakes. Your metabolism is affected by three main things – the amount of exercise you do (particularly how often), how often you eat your meals (also their size and how many), and the amount of muscle you have.

The more you exercise, the higher your metabolism will be, although this is somewhat short term, hence, exercise often. A morning run with your heart rate at 65% of its maximum (160+ if you are 20) for over 20 minutes, will keep your metabolism raised for the rest of the day. That is quite intense, so 20 minutes of interval running is easier, that is, jog for 2 minutes, then run (fairly fast) for 2 more, repeat!

The simplest way to adjust your metabolism is to adjust the amount you eat each day and how often. It is recommended that you eat 6 small meals a day to raise your metabolism to its highest! That’s eating a small meal every 2 hours, roughly. Here are the major benefits of following six meals a day diet:
  • more energy
  • less hunger
  • reduced food cravings
  • control blood sugar levels & insulin production
  • reduce body fat storage
  • maintain & increase lean muscle mass
How should you structure these meals? 40% Carbs, 30% Protein and 30% Fat is suggested, but if you want to see faster changes: 60% Carbs, 30% Protein and 10% Fat is the best way to go. Six meals sounds like a lot, but it’s not when you consider each meal as one portion, a portion being enough food to fit in your palm, open flat (or the size of your fist). As a note: fruit and vegetables should not be included in these, apart from potatoes, otherwise, you can eat as many as you want and not gain weight.

Muscle affects your metabolism rather simply – the more muscle you have the more calories you can burn when sitting doing nothing. The bigger your muscles, the bigger the cells in your muscle fibres, thus, the more nutrients and energy they need. This is why a bodybuilder can get away with eating twice as much as you and I when not training and not gain weight. Working out also raises your metabolism, because your muscles grow, which takes more energy to do, particularly when you sleep (your main growth and repair period).

Body Fat


The most common mistake everyone makes when considering their health is look at their weight as a number and see it as needing to be lower, then they won’t be ‘fat’. FALSE! It has nothing to do with the number that is your weight.

How ‘fat’ you look comes down to the amount of body fat (adipose tissue) you are carrying around. When it comes to body fat, Males need 3-5% of essential fats which is the amount of fat necessary for maintenance of life and reproductive functions. Females need 8-12% (they’re the baby-makers after all). The rest is stored fat.

Exercise

Exercise is vital to maintaining muscle, keeping your heart healthy and your metabolism elevated.
  • Running hard for extended periods (30mins+) can increase the size of your heart too, which is why they say regular exercise decrease the risk of heart problems in later life.
  • Current guidelines say that you should exercise moderately; making sure that your heart rate is increased above 120 bpm, for 30 minutes, five times a week. Lifting heavy weights can do this, not just running, rowing, cycling or jogging.
  • Exercise reduces the rate of bone loss, the risk of heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, builds and maintains strong and healthy bones, and muscle. For example, a 30 year old power lifter’s spine was 68% thicker near the base than that of 20 year old man.
Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are incredibly important in keeping your body healthy. They are needed to keep cells strong, bind tissues, fight infection, regulate your metabolism and convert fat and carbohydrates into energy. A deficiency in vitamins can cause many illnesses and ailments, depending on the vitamin.
  • Vitamins and minerals are absolutely essential to sustaining a healthy body. In particular Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, B vitamin folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Selenium.
  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps you tackle stress better. Sources include: A glass of Orange juice, citrus fruits, green tea, etc.
  • In girls especially, Iron is particularly important, fortified cereals, whole grains, dried fruits, nuts and seeds are important sources of iron.
  • Calcium is needed during teenage years for bone growth (which goes on until you’re 25!). Milk, fortified soy milk, dairy products, almonds, beans, sesame seeds and broccoli are Calcium rich food. Males should aim for 1000mg of calcium a day – which is around three glasses of milk - and females 800mg.
  • In winter it is important to get your sources of Vitamin D, which aids in the repair of scars, making them less visible – Vitamin D can be found in: Milk, Soy Milk, Fish, Mushrooms, to name a few.
  • Vitamin K strengthens bones and prevents blood clotting. Sources: Dark, leafy vegetables (Spinach has a lot, as does Parsley).
  • B Vitamin Folate fights cancer and reduces the risk of Alzheimer. Sources: Spinach, beans, peanuts, broccoli, corn, lentils and oranges.
  • Magnesium helps build strong bones and lower risk of diabetes by enhancing the action of insulin in your body. Sources Beans, nuts, seeds and green vegetables such as Spinach (see a pattern?).
  • Potassium helps to maintain blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke. Sources: Beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, dried fruits, kiwi, orange juice.
Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats

Protein is needed for growth and repair. You should try to eat 1.0g-1.2g of protein for every kg of your body weight.
  • Protein is found in meats, chicken, turkey, fish, cheese, milk, nuts, lentils and beans. Protein is high in fish and white meat, which are also low in fat, with red meat the amount of fat depends on the cut (a top sirloin steak is very lean).
  • Protein is very important as it is used to make haemoglobin, which is the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
  • Protein also builds cardiac muscle! (That’s your heart folks!). If you are working out regularly, you need more protein than others in order to build muscle. This is why you see protein bars, powders, shakes, etc.
  • There is no daily limit for protein intake – just make sure you drink plenty of water to make sure excess protein doesn’t kick you in the kidneys, literally.
Carbohydrate determines the amount of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles, which in turn greatly affects your performance level.
  • When you eat foods like fruit, cereal, or bread, glucose goes into your bloodstream quickly, ready to provide immediate energy to the brain, muscles, or other body tissues demanding energy.
  • Carbohydrates are basically sugar and starch. Apples, oranges, potatoes, grains, candy, bread… are all carbohydrates. Carbohydrates break down into glucose molecules. If glucose is not used right away, it is converted and stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen.
  • When used as energy, carbohydrates become fuel for your muscles and brain. If your body does not have any use for the glucose, it is converted into glycogen and stored it in the liver and muscles as an energy reserve.
  • If you eat high-carbohydrate foods that are wholegrain (such as Pasta, Bread, etc) you will provide your body with a lot of fibre and some more essential minerals. Eating these foods will also make you feel ‘full’ for longer, as they take longer to digest, whilst being light to eat.
Fats are a source of energy, help cushion internal organs, nerve transmissions and aids in the absorption of minerals. You should try to eat 53g of fat a day.
  • Avoid Trans fats and Saturated fat, a source of ‘good fat’ is peanut butter. Good fats are generally monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats (the longer the name the better!). Sources are: fish, nuts, Olive Oil, corn, soy and avocados. Monounsaturated fats aid in fat loss!
  • High fat (and high calorie) foods often release more energy than our body needs, this excess energy is stored as fat (usually around the abdomen). Eating too many bad fats will increase your total body fat.
Fruit & Veg and Fibre
  • Try and eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – ‘V8’ juice is good cheat for this! Remember, that’s 5 fist’s worth of fruit and veg. So, an apple, an orange and some roast potatoes. Although, don’t be fooled, you can never eat enough fruit and veg, and, you won’t gain much weight. The darker the leafy green, the better, as it has more nutrients.. A lot of ‘Superfoods’ are vegetables: Rhubarb, Garlic, Sweet Potatoes, Sprouts, etc.
  • Fibre is important to lower your blood sugar levels, lower your cholesterol levels and aid in digestion and absorption. Try and eat 18g of fibre a day, the best source are beans and wholegrain foods.
Water

61.8% of your body weight is water, and without it you would be dead in under three days. Keep it topped up – at least 10 cups (2L a day), 13 cups (2.6L) for weight loss. A good way to tell whether you should be drinking more is too look at your urine. The colour of your urine shows how concentrated the urine is. The darker the colour, the more dehydrated you are. If your urine is completely clear you’re drinking enough. Most people do not drink enough fluids! Remember, if it’s a hot day or you have been exercising, you will have lost more fluids and therefore those fluids need to be replaced.

Sources: Clark, Nancy. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Human Kinetics, 4th Edition, 2008. Print.

Last edited by Rob; March 20th 2013 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Updating.
   
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