The word "diet"
probably brings to mind meals of lettuce and cottage cheese or constant
hunger. By definition, "diet" refers to what a person eats or drinks
during the course of a day. A diet that limits portions to a very small
size or that excludes certain foods entirely to promote weight loss may
not be effective over the long term. You are likely to miss certain
foods, find it difficult to follow this type of diet for a long time,
and more importantly the complete elimination of certain food groups may
result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Instead, it is best to
gradually change the types and amounts of food you eat. Make
healthier choices and maintain these changes for the rest of your life.
The ideal diet is one that takes into account what you like and dislike
plus includes a wide variety of foods with enough calories and nutrients
for good health. The amount of calories you take in each day and what
you eat play a major role in how much you weigh. So, when planning your
diet, you should consider:
What calorie level is appropriate?
Is the diet you are considering
Will the diet be practical and easy
Will you be able to maintain this
eating plan for the rest of your life?
The following information will help you
answer these questions.
diets provide 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day. However, the number of
calories that is right for you depends on your weight and activity
level. At these calorie levels, diets are referred to as low-calorie
diets. Self-help diet books and clinical and non-clinical weight-loss
programs often include low-calorie diet plans.
The calorie level of
your diet should allow for a weight loss of no more than 1 pound per
week (after the first week or two when weight loss may be more rapid
because of initial water loss). If you can estimate how many calories
you eat in a day, you can design a diet plan that will help you lose no
more than 1 pound per week. You may need to work with a trained health
professional, such as a registered dietitian. Or, you can use a
standardized low-calorie diet plan with a fixed caloric level.
Make sure that your
diet contains all the essential nutrients for good health. However, when
lowering calories you may find it difficult to get all the vitamins and
minerals that your body needs. A healthful diet should include:
Minerals Eating a wide
variety of foods from all the food groups on the Food Guide Pyramid will
help you get the vitamins and minerals you need. If you eat less than
1,200 calories per day, you may benefit from taking a daily vitamin and
The average woman 25 years of age
and older should get 50 grams of protein each day, and the average man
25 years of age and older should get 63 grams of protein each day.
Adequate protein is important because it prevents muscle tissue from
breaking down and repairs all body tissues such as skin and teeth. To
get adequate protein in your diet, make sure you eat 2-3 servings from
the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group on the Food
Guide Pyramid every day. These foods are all good sources of protein.
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Disclaimer: The information provided by this service is intended to
serve as a recommendation for people who desire to learn more about
health, fitness, weight loss, and taking care of their bodies. Before
beginning any diet program, always consult your doctor to make sure you
are able to begin weight loss safely. Certain disabilities or conditions
may restrict or prohibit some individuals from dieting, so be sure to
clear yourself with your doctor.