There is so much written about this subject and everyone seems to be an expert. The diet industry is worth millions and there are so many products available to us that promise to make us thin. If we are to believe all these claims then everyone would be their ideal weight. So why are we still overweight as a nation?
We require food to supply us with energy, vitamins and minerals that our bodies requires. When we take in more calories than we burn off through exercise we will gain weight as our body stores the excess energy as fat. Conversely, if we eat food that contains less energy than you are burning off then you will lose weight. Put simply, our weight gain comes down to the fact that we are eating more and exercising less. Often crash diets are just a quick fix, and most people gain back the weight again when they come off the diet. In order to lose weight permanently you need to change what you eat.
Energy within our food is measured in kilocalories (Kcals). Food containing starch like bread, potatoes, rice and pasta are healthy, and wholemeal versions of these foods provide more vitamins, minerals and fibre. People trying to lose weight should cut down on fatty and sugary foods, and alcohol, and eat more starchy foods, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Fat is high in calories and most people eat far more fat than they require in their diets. Saturated fat is found in biscuits, cheese, pastry, animal fat, dairy products and chips and is the most important fat to reduce as they are not required by the body. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are used by the body but are still high in calories so need to be limited. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated whilst sunflower oil is rich in polyunsaturated.
Sugar contains empty calories. There is no food value other than calories contained within sugar and provides no form of nourishment. Avoid sugar in drinks, cereals and puddings, substituting it for honey and dried fruit.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and vitamins to protect against disease. Fruit and vegetables also contain fibre, especially in brightly coloured fruits such as beetroot, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes. We should have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day according to the World Health Organisation.
Exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy body. It increases your strength and suppleness and also uses up excess calories. It is particularly beneficial to your heart and circulation. Half an hours of exercise 5 days a week, or similar, will help to maintain an healthy body. The important thing is to take exercise regularly so pick a exercise that you enjoy.
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