eatright

In order to eat a healthy diet, you need to consume a wide variety of foods. Some foods are high in nutritional value and will give your body the nutrients and energy it needs, while other foods provide little nutritional value and can contribute to chronic medical problems. In order to maintain a healthy weight, the average male needs to consume 2500 calories per day, while the average female needs to consume 2000 calories per day. If you are trying to lose weight, this number may change.

What are calories?

Calories provide your body with the energy it needs to perform all of its daily functions, including work and exercise. Calories come from three different sources: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats.

Proteins (4 calories per gram): About 15-20% of your daily calorie intake should come from protein. Proteins are used to form the basic structure of muscles, connective tissue and organs. Your body also uses proteins for the growth and repair of cells. You can find proteins in eggs, milk, cheese, tofu, nuts, meat, fish, chicken and beans.

Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram): About 50-60% of your daily calorie intake should come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates can be rapidly broken down and used for energy. Carbohydrates help power muscle contraction, provide fuel for the brain, aids in fat metabolism and allows for the protein you eat to be used for tissue maintenance. Carbohydrates are found in breads, cereals, grains, pasta, milk, yogurt, vegetables and fruit.

Fats (9 calories per gram): No more than 30% of your daily calories should come from fats. Unsaturated fats are much healthier than saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, fish, and other vegetable oils, and can help reduce your cholesterol. Saturated fats are found in butter, margarine, meat, cheese and whole milk dairy products. Saturated fats can contribute to high cholesterol (especially by increasing your “LDL”). Therefore, you should limit the amount of saturated fats that you consume.

Other important nutrients:

Fiber: Fiber is found in plants and is generally not digested by the body. It is important to get about 30 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is found in whole grains, flax seeds, rice and vegetable, as well as some fruits, oatmeal and beans. The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber. They are used to help the intestines remove waste products from your body and can help to slow sugar absorption.

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins help to regulate the metabolic processes in your body. They help the muscles, nerves, brain, skin and bones function properly. Vitamins and minerals are contained in all types of foods, and if you eat a wide variety of foods, you most likely get all of the vitamins your body needs. The major vitamins are vitamins A,B, C, D, E, and K. Calcium and Zinc are also important minerals.

Water: You should drink about 6 to 8 cups of water per day in order to replace the fluids your body loses when you breath, sweat and use the bathroom. In warmer climates like Miami, it may be necessary to drink even more than 8 cups of day when it is hot outside because you are losing even more water.

Healthy Eating Tips:

  • Limit cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat can lead to atherosclerosis – which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Cholesterol is found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy products. Vegetables do not contain cholesterol.
  • To reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet, limit the amount of butter or margarine that you eat. Use olive oil instead. Drink non-fat milk instead of whole milk. Choose lean meats, and take the skin off of poultry.
  • Avoid fast foods and frozen dinners as much as you can. Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure. Sodium is found in many foods, and fast food and frozen food generally contain high amounts of sodium. You should have at least 500mg of sodium per day, but no more than 2000mg a day.
  • Excess alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain, liver disease and other disorders.
  • Sugar supplies a large amount of calories but very little nutrition.
  • Bake or Broil foods instead of frying
  • If you are going to eat eggs, try not to eat the egg yolk. Egg yolks contain all of the fats and cholesterol. Egg whites are healthy because they are mainly protein.
  • Make sure to eat enough greens. Try to eat one salad per day. Leaf lettuces like spinach and mixed greens are more nutritious than iceberg lettuce.
  • Eat whole grain bread products. There is more fiber and nutrition in these foods.
  • Limit your portion sizes and eat smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day

If you have any questions, please contact us to set up a nutrition and diet consultation. Dr. David Ross, Dr. Michael Ross, or Dr. Luis Castro can all help you form a personalized diet plan on your way to better health! Please call our office at 305-279-7677 or visit our website at www.rossmedicalgroup.com.