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Nutrition Basics to Maintain a Healthy Weight
By: Ryane Greene, RD


A healthy diet along with exercise can ward off those unwanted pounds. It is an overall lifestyle and shouldn’t be seen as short-term. Most people will go on a diet to lose weight. Once the weight is lost, individuals go back to old eating habits and usually gain the weight back. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, make changes you can stick with. Start small. If you try to change everything at once, it can become overwhelming.

Limit foods that supply calories but lack nutrients

Focus on eating more whole foods instead of highly processed foods. Highly processed foods are ones whose form changes drastically from its natural state. Examples of highly processed foods would be cereal bars or potato chips. Examples of whole foods would be raw fruits and vegetables.
Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. These foods provide the body with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and other nutrients that are essential to good health. They are lower in calories compared to highly processed foods, so eating these foods can help maintain a healthy weight.
Fat, carbohydrates and protein are all macronutrients and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends all three, but in different amounts. Recommendations are 40-50 percent of calories from carbs, 30 percent from fat and 20-30 percent from protein.

Nutrients that improve weight loss

Fiber and protein can help with weight loss. They take longer to digest, which means you feel full longer. In addition, our bodies use energy (calories) to digest food. Foods high in fiber and protein burn more calories during digestion. For instance, lean protein foods use 30% of calories for digestion. If you eat a cheese stick with 100 calories, you will use 30 calories to digest the cheese stick. Examples of good fiber sources are beans, apples and pears with skin, berries, 100% whole grains, bran cereals, etc. Fiber recommendations are 25-30 grams a day. Examples of good protein sources are low-fat dairy (cheese sticks, yogurt, cottage cheese, 1% milk, etc.), skinless poultry, fish, beans, etc.

Tips to eliminate obesity and chronic disease

Limit saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugar, as they are bad for your health. Saturated fats and sodium are sometimes naturally found in food and drinks but can also be added during processing along with sugar. These things can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. Examples include butter, lard, tropical (coconut, palm) oils, fatty beef, whole milk, and cheese. It’s recommended to get no more than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat. Recommendations for sodium is no more than 2300 mg a day unless you have high blood pressure, then your sodium should be limited to 1500 mg per day. Recommendations for added sugar is 24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men.
Read nutrition labels. Pay attention to the serving size to determine how many calories your portion contains. If a serving is ½ cup and you eat 1 cup, then you must double all the numbers. Read the ingredients list which are in descending order. Remember, if it contains many ingredients (usually more than five) it is highly processed, and you should try to avoid. Compare nutrition labels and choose healthier options such as lower in sodium and sugar or higher in dietary fiber.  
When trying to lose weight, you want a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is a state in which you burn more calories than you consume. In general, women need 1,500 calories when trying to lose weight and men generally need 1,700 calories when trying to lose weight. Calorie needs are based on height, weight, age, and activity levels. To determine your needs, use an online calorie calculator like the one from the National Institute of Health. Try using an app that tracks calories like myfitnesspal for two weeks to understand how many calories you take in.

The content of Healthy In Onslow, Onslow Memorial Hospital and its affiliates, is not a substitute for medical advice.  We encourage you to please consult your primary care provider  before beginning any exercise program or nutrition plan,  especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any medical condition, or are taking any medication.  We do not endorse the use of any specific product, service or business, including but not limited to supplements, meal replacement products, diet plans, exercise equipment, health and fitness businesses, etc.  The contents on our website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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