In a healthy program for weight loss, having appropriate amount of essential nutrients is very important after consideration its quality and quantity consumption to avoid getting too much calories. Basically, nutrients are classified into two main groups:
1) Macro nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats
2) Micro nutrients – vitamins, minerals and trace elements that being required in less amount and cannot be synthesized by human body.
Nutrition research results reveal that changes in the proportions of essential nutrients consumed can effect changes in weight. Thus, weight loss is not only depending on how much your total calories intake but also the proportion of essential nutrients you eat.
Research showed that the average male food consumption is made up by 34% fats, 20% protein and 45% carbohydrates. In a healthy weight loss program, it is suggested that you consume not more than 20% fats, 25% to 30% protein and 50% to 55% carbohydrates in your daily food intake. In the case you consume more than 20% fats, you need to make sure the total daily calories intake is within total calories planned in your weight loss program.
Carbohydrates are one of the essential nutrients that our body uses for energy and they are mainly derived from plant sources. 1 gm of carbohydrates yields 4 calories of energy.
There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates or simple sugars are found in common table sugar or processed sugar. Complex carbohydrates or starches can be found in vegetables, fruits, and grains such as flour, oatmeal, bread, pasta, rice etc.
The difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is that the complex carbohydrates need to be broken down to simple sugars before get absorbed. This means it take more time to be digested and thus decrease unnecessary cravings. It is even better if we consume whole grains (such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat flour) instead of refined grains (such as white flour, white bread, white rice) in our diet as whole grains contain more dietary fibers which help maintaining more stable blood sugar level and thus reducing unnecessary cravings too.
Proteins are the building blocks for your muscles, organs, tissues, etc. Besides, these essential nutrients also supply energy as 1 gm of protein yields 4 calories of energy. Protein can be found both from animal and plant sources. These include meat, egg, milk, fish, cheese etc from animal sources and beans, peas, nuts, cereals etc from plant sources.
Please bear in mind that maintaining variety in the sources of protein is very important for our health. This is because there are about 20 different types of amino acids (constituents of protein) are needed by the human body for growth and other functions.
It is important to include these essential nutrients (25% to 30%) in your daily meal as protein helps in boosting metabolism and thus bring better effect in a program for weight loss.
Fats are the major energy sources as 1gm of fats yields 9 calories (generate more than double calories if compared to carbohydrates and protein) of energy. Thus, too much of these essential nutrients in your diet can lead to obesity and other deceases.
For your health benefit, avoid saturated fats such as hydrogenated oil and use unsaturated fats like olive oil or peanut oil in your food. Normally, most people consume enough fats in the food we eat, including nuts, seeds, cooking oil, salad dressing, butter, fish and some fruits like avocado and durian. It is recommended to consume less than 20% of these essential nutrients for people who are under weight loss program.
You might curious why we cannot stop taking fats? Actually, our body needs these essential nutrients as they contain some fatty acids, named essential fatty acids (EPA) which are necessary for body health. For example, EPA is essential to manufacture and repair cell membranes, help our cells to get maximum nutrition and eliminate harmful waste products. It is important in developing children neurological development and sensory system too.
As one of the essential nutrients needed in our body, vitamins play an important role as helpers, aiding in metabolic processes, converting macro nutrients to energy for usage. These essential nutrients are also essential for growth, keep vitality, strengthen body immune system and anti aging purpose. Types of vitamins have been named after alphabets i.e. vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and K. Vitamins are found mostly from vegetables and fruits.
Minerals are the last essential nutrients needed in our body, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, iodine etc. Minerals come from both animal and plant sources, dominantly from the latter.
In fact, minerals and vitamins work together to maintain the biochemistry that keep you alive and enjoy good health. For example, calcium is one of the minerals needed for healthy bones, but it is less effective without vitamin D. And, vitamin K is the blood clotting vitamin, but blood will not clot without calcium.
We need to have a balance diet which includes all the essential nutrients above in any program for weight loss. Besides total calories intake, it is important to aware of the proportion of essential nutrients you eat and perform the right exercise so that you could increase the success rate in any program for weight loss.