January is the month of “New Year’s resolutions.” Many of us look at this time as an opportunity to set goals, create new habits, and lose weight! January is the sweet spot for most gyms across the country as people attempt to lose a lot of weight or just those 5-10 pounds that they gained between Thanksgiving and the New Year! Well, this year, rather than deprivation you can create a balanced diet for weight loss that will allow you to eat a lot of food!
Exercise is fantastic for your health, burning calories, and can certainly help with your weight loss goals. In order to lose 1 pound of fat in one week, you must reduce your calories by 3,500, which equates to 500 calories per day! You can accomplish this by exercising more and eating more nutrient dense, low calorie food. In other words, eat as many vegetables as you like, and leave the bread basket for someone else! Much research is being done on what constitutes optimum nutrition. Most dietary programs are based on macronutrients which takes into consideration the percentage of protein & carbohydrates, versus the fat consumed.
However, new cutting edge research is not just about macronutrients, but also micronutrients. The building blocks of a balanced diet for weight loss include micronutrients. Micronutrients make up the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are the non-vitamin and non-mineral substances that plants produce to protect themselves from their environment. There are many significant health benefits that are being linked to the consumption of these micronutrients (in plants). They play an integral role in a balanced diet for weight loss.
Micronutrients are primarily plant-based and are not found in animal or dairy products. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds currently make up less than 10% of the average American diet. Scientists are only beginning to understand the powerful role micronutrients play in our overall health. A diet high in green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, berries of all kinds, legumes and seeds strengthen the immune system. When we eat a diet high in “whole” foods, we feed our bodies thousands of micronutrients which lower our blood sugar and cholesterol, decrease body weight, boost the immune system, and may reverse heart disease and prevent cancer. The micronutrients in just broccoli alone are well into the 1000’s. Many of these critical compounds have yet to be fully identified by scientists.
New research shows that when the body does not receive balanced nutrition in the form of both macronutrients and micronutrients, it sends out hunger signals. The cells are starving for the nutrition that micronutrients provide. When we eat processed food, to satisfy our hunger, the body still remains hungry for nutrition from micronutrients. Therefore, you continue to have cravings to eat even more. Your New Year’s resolution for weight loss should be to increase the amount of “colors” of food you consume from the produce section of your supermarket: Color is king! Buy a wide variety of colors of produce from green leafy vegetables to brilliant yellow and orange squash, to red bell peppers, purple beets and eggplant.
I know for many, it is a struggle to develop a taste for vegetables. But there are vast resources on the internet as to how to prepare vegetables (without gobs of butter and cheese) that are delicious! You can steam, roast, braise, or stir fry them. Roasting your vegetables is a simple and delicious way to bring out robust flavor without any fuss. Incorporating fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds into your diet can be challenging; but fun, healthy, and weight friendly.
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