Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What’s different about low-calorie nutrition and regular nutrition, you may ask? When you’re on a low-calorie diet, you need to make smart food choices because getting all the energy and nutrients you need from food is more difficult than when you’re consuming more calories.

Creating balance

A nutritionally balanced meal contains mostly carbohydrates from grains, fruits, and vegetables; some protein from meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts, or eggs; and a small amount of fat. With the exception of most fruits and vegetables, most foods have at least a little bit of fat, so you’re automatically getting some fat in a balanced meal. Small amounts of added fat also help balance the meal.

You can easily determine if you’re eating a balanced meal. When you look at your plate, more than half needs to be covered with foods that are high in carbohydrates, and less than half with foods high in protein.

Balance is particularly important in a low-calorie meal plan because a balanced diet helps ensure sustained energy as your body absorbs different types of foods and different combinations of foods and converts them to energy at different rates. Foods that are high in simple sugars move more quickly into your system and are metabolized and converted to energy more immediately. Foods that are digested more slowly, such as some complex carbohydrates and fats, provide energy later in the day.

Eating a variety of foods

After you balance the major food groups, choosing a variety of different foods within those groups helps ensure a good balance of vitamins, minerals, and other substances in food that keep you healthy.

One way to know whether or not your diet contains enough variety is to look at the colors on your plate. The more colors you see, the better variety of nutrients you’re getting from your meal. Eating a variety of foods also helps keep your low-calorie diet more interesting and more appealing so that you stick with it.

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