Balanced Diet For Weight Loss :
Energy not used is converted into fat and then stored
We eat not only because we enjoy our food, but because food provides the necessary fuel for the working of our bodies: it supplies material for growth and repair of body tissues, it provides heat and energy, and it supplies materials needed to regulate body development and to maintain a resistance to certain diseases.
When food is metabolised in the body, it gives off energy. Different foods give off different amounts of energy, and we use the term calorie as a unit with which to measure this heat/energy produced. In terms of heat, one tablespoonful of sugar gives off enough energy in the body to boil one liter of cold water. Twenty five grams of butter gives off sufficient energy to boil three liters of water. If you are 12kg overweight, you are carrying around enough stored energy to boil 140 liters of water! It is a pity that as yet no one has devised a scheme to get at this energy for general use!
Foods high in calorie value must be avoided in slimming diets, because if the energy they give off is not quickly used up it is converted into fat and stored. When eventually it is required, the fat undergoes a process of conversion back into glucose, and then glycogen needed for muscular activity.
We divide food into groups. A normal well balanced diet should contain daily proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, mineral salts and vitamins.
Carbohydrates are the starches and sugars in our diet which provide the energy requirements for the body. When metabolised they form glucose, and if too much is eaten the glucose is stored as fat.
These goods should be avoided on a slimming diet. The body will obtain all the energy it requires from its stored fat. Incidentally, it should be understood that even when we are being very inactive or asleep we are still using up energy all the time. We are warmer than our surroundings, and losing heat constantly which has to be replenished.
Our heart muscles are working away pumping blood around the body. Our lungs are expanding and contracting with every breath we take, our last meal is being digested, our bone marrow is hard at work making red blood cells, and there are countless chemical reactions taking place within our bodies. Unfortunately no calories are used up in mental effort!
Proteins are a group of foods required for bodybuilding, growth and repair. These are the less fattening foods and some must be taken every day as they cannot be stored in the body in protein form. An excess of protein will however be stored as fat.
There are two classes of protein: first class proteins are from animal origin such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, poultry and cheese.
Second class proteins are of vegetable origin such as peas, beans, lentils, nuts and cereals. Some first class protein is recommended every day.
Deficit dieting, the best way to correct the balance
Fats are our main source of heat needed to maintain the body temperature, we tend to eat more of these foods in the winter, and of course an excess of fat will be stored around the body. Fats are found in all dairy produce, certain oily fish, meats and margarine, and should be avoided in a slimming diet.
Mineral salts required in the body are found in small quantities in most of the foods that we eat. The main ones needed are calcium and phosphorus which are used in the formation of bones and teeth, and can be found in meat, cheese, milk, and green vegetables. A deficiency in these results in rickets.
Iron is necessary in blood formation, and is found in meat, liver, cheese, eggs and green vegetables. A deficiency results in anemia.
Iodine is important to the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, and is found in the leaves of green vegetables. A shortage can result in goiter.
Vitamins are complex chemical substances present in small amounts in most foods. Shortage of any one of these in the daily diet can result in disease.
One remaining factor to mention is that whether one is on a slimming diet or not, it is essential that sufficient fluid is consumed. This is important both for transport of the digested food materials from the body.
To maintain fluid balance of the body, the normal daily intake should be at least one and three quarter liters. The diet must also contain enough roughage, which is the indigestible part of the food, providing bulk in the body and preventing constipation. Roughage is found mainly in fruit and vegetables and in wholemeal bread.
The average adult diet produces between 2000 and 3500 calories a day. The number of calories required by an adult each day varies with sex, occupation and climate. A man requires more than a woman, and a manual worker more than a sedentary worker. In hot weather you need less than in cold weather.