Nutrition.gov – Look here to find information about how to meet nutritional needs while building healthful eating patterns. Sub-topics include: serving size, food guide pyramids, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and healthy eating guidelines.
The 2 Most Important Facts about Successful Weight Loss:
Before beginning any diet, it’s important that you understand these two important facts.
- Weight loss depends on energy balance.
To lose weight, your energy intake must be less than your energy expenditure. This will always be true. There are no foods, pills, or potions that will magically melt the pounds off. The only approach that works is eating less and/or exercising more.
- Permanent weight loss requires permanent change.
Don’t assume that you can spend six weeks on a diet and then return to your old eating habits. Short term diets only produce short term results. The only successful way to keep the weight off is to make small but permanent changes in your lifestyle. Coincidentally, this is also the best way to improve your health.
The Best Exercises for Weight Loss.
It is possible to lose weight without exercising, but exercise can greatly accelerate your weight loss progress. In fact, exercise can help you lose weight in three separate ways: Your body will burn extra Calories while you are exercising; If the exercise is high enough in intensity (i.e. significantly increases your heart rate and respiration), your body will continue to burn Calories at an elevated rate for an extended period after your exercise session has ended; and If the exercise places a high enough load on your muscles, they will increase in size, and burn more Calories even when your body is at rest.
This last item (i.e. muscular adaptation to exercise) is an important factor for weight loss, because it enables your body to burn more Calories at all times. Muscle tissue is more „metabolically active” than body fat. With more muscle and less fat, your metabolic rate is naturally higher. Muscular adaptation occurs most readily when the load placed on a muscle exceeds about 60% of its maximum contractile strength. This makes weight training one of your best exercise choices, and the most direct path to a sleeker, shapelier body.
What About Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise (e.g. aerobic dance, running, biking, etc.) improves cardiovascular health and can help you burn a considerable number of Calories. However, aerobic exercise does not usually place enough load on your body to create much muscular adaptation. Because of this, aerobic exercise is not nearly as efficient as weight training from the perspective of maintaining long-term weight loss.
All exercises make weight loss easier, though, so don’t choose an exercise solely for its efficiency. The best exercise for you is simply the exercise that you enjoy and are willing to do consistently. Even walking is a wonderful exercise. Walking just 15 extra minutes a day will equate to about a pound of additional weight loss each month for the average person.
If your exercise program becomes boring, look for ways to make it more interesting and productive. For example, a weighted exercise vest could add a new twist to your morning walk. Keep challenging yourself, and exercise will become a very fulfilling part of your lifestyle.
Reading the Labels: How to Make Sense of Nutrition Facts Information
Serving Size and the Number of Servings Per Package: The first place to start when you look at the Nutrition Facts panel is the seving size and the number of servings per package. Serving sizes are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount, e.g., the number of grams. Serving sizes are based on the amount of food people typically eat, which makes them realistic and easy to compare to similar foods. Pay attention to the serving size, including how many servings there are in the food package, and compare it to how much YOU actually eat. The size of the serving on the food package influences all the nutrient amounts listed on the top part of the label.
Calories and Calories from Fat: Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of this food. The label also tells you how many of the calories in one serving come from fat. (Note: Carbohydrates and Protein each contain 4 Calories per gram while Fat contains 9 calories per gram, more than twice the calories!)
The nutrients listed first are the ones Americans generally eat in adequate amounts, or even too much. Americans often don’t get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron in their diets. Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions. For example, getting enough calcium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, in which bones become brittle and break as one ages (see calcium example below).
The Percent Daily Value
This part of the Nutrition Facts panel tells you whether the nutrients (fat, sodium, fiber, etc) in a serving of food contribute a lot or a little to your total daily diet. By diet we mean all the different foods you eat in a day. %DVs are based on recommendations for a 2,000 calorie diet. For labeling purposes, FDA set 2,000 calories as the reference amount for calculating %DVs. The %DV shows you the percent (or how much) of the recommended daily amount of a nutrient is in a serving of food. By using the %DV, you can tell if this amount is high or low. You, like most people, may not know how many calories you consume in a day. But you can still use the %DV as a frame of reference, whether or not you eat more or less than 2,000 calories each day. It’s not hard to follow nutrition experts’ advice for a healthy diet. Try to limit your total daily intake of fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
This general guide tells you that 5%DV or less is low and 20%DV or more is high. It means that 5%DV or less is low for all nutrients, those you want to limit (e.g., fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium), and those that you want to consume in greater amounts (fiber, calcium, etc). As the Quick Guide shows, 20%DV or more is high for all nutrients.
Sugars and Protein: Note that neither Sugars nor Protein lists a %DV on the Nutrition Facts panel.
No daily reference value has been established because no recommendations have been made for the total amount of sugars to eat in a day. Keep in mind, the sugars listed on the Nutrition Facts panel include naturally occurring sugars (like those in fruit and milk) as well as those added to a food or drink. Check the ingredient list for specifics on added sugars.
A %DV is required to be listed if a claim is made for protein, such as „high in protein”. Otherwise, unless the food is meant for use by infants and children under 4 years old, none is needed. Current scientific evidence indicates that protein intake is not a public health concern for adults and children over 4 years of age.
Experts advise consumers to consume adequate amounts of calcium in their daily diet. This advice is given in milligrams (mg), but the Nutrition Facts panel only lists a %DV for calcium. For consumers to know how the calcium they consume relates to expert advice, they need to do some simple math. (This applies to calcium only).