What is a Good Nutritional Diet Plan For Women?

If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you might feel overwhelmed with the thought of trying to embark on any kind of a nutritional diet plan. Especially if you’re a woman.

I’ve been trying out different diets for years, trying one “fad” diet after the other and never getting very far at all until the past few years. What changed for me? I decided to go back to the basics and eat very simple but easy to prepare food. I also took another look at the American Diabetic Association’s food guide. So, though when you look at television and even flip some diet cookbooks, try to remember that healthy eating can honestly be relatively easy and uncomplicated.

You can actually base your diet around starchy foods like pasta, potatoes and rice. As long as you add lots of fresh fruit and plenty of veggies you will be okay. Don’t forget your protein at lunch at dinner. In my opinion, protein is the building block of any healthy food plan. It’s what allows your body to build lean muscle and lean muscle is what burns fat. Your diet will also need to incorporate dairy products such as milk and cheese but there are lots of low-fat cheeses to choose from and 1% fat milk is always your best friend. It will fill you up without piling on lots of extra calories.

Consuming a healthy diet is all about balance and portion size. This means that you will have to choose from a wide variety of different foods and drink lots of fresh water. If you live in either England or the United States where the average person is either overweight or clinically obese, you may find yourself doubly challenged. This can be difficult especially if you eat a lot of fast food or processed food. If you are spending long hours at the pub each week tossing back lots of ale, then you’re also going to have a hard time consuming a good nutritional diet plan.

The Different Food Groups

Nutritious foods are divided into five different categories and they are:

  • vegetables and fruit

  • grain products

  • milk and dairy products

  • protein (meat and fish)

  • oils and fats

But I don’t want to eat fats and oils, I’m on a diet! you might be saying to yourself. Oils and and other healthy fats are very important to your body. Your body must have a certain amount of fat in it if it wants to process other foods well. You don’t need a lot of fat or healthy oils, but you do need some. Don’t entirely limit fat and oil from any weight loss diet.

Fruit and Vegetables:

Fruits-and-VegetablesBecause fruit and veggies are such a vital source of minerals and vitamins, a health nutritional plan will include about five servings of each per day. Research has shown that people who do consume this amount of fruit and vegetables significantly lower their risk for both heart disease and stroke. A portion of a fruit might be as small as just one medium sized banana. Alternatively, just one slice of fresh pineapple can count as one serving. So, you don’t have to be eating oodles and oodles of fruit and veggies every day if that’s not your thing. It’s certainly not mine. I actually don’t like fruit or veggies very much but I eat them now. You will find that if you start to incorporate small bits of fruits and veggies into your diet that you will be able to work  yourself up to the five servings per day with minimal fuss. If you swap out your morning donut for a small tangerine, you’ve added one serving already!

Starchy foods

starchy-food-in-your-dietAbout ⅓ of our daily diet should be made up of starchy foods. That means it is fine to go ahead and base your meals around starchy foods like potatoes and pasta. Potatoes are also rich in fiber if you don’t remove the skin. So when you bake a potato, go ahead and leave the skin on and eat it. It’s good for you and if your potato has been baked in an oven rather than a microwave, it will taste delicious.

If you’re going to eat pasta, switch from white grain pasta to whole wheat pasta. This will bump up your protein level enormously and remember what I said about protein? It is the building block of every balanced nutritional plan.

Meat, fish, eggs and beans

nutritional-diet-for-womenMeat, fish, eggs and beans are all excellent sources of protein. In addition, they also provide a hefty amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Meat contains iron and zinc and B vitamins. In fact, meat is one of the best sources of vitamin B12 — no need to take a B12 vitamin if you’re eating at least one serving of red meat per week, well-cooked, of course.

Fish is also very high in protein but even more importantly, if you are eating “oily fish” such as sardines or salmon, it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You should try to have fish about twice a week.

Milk and dairy foods

milk-dairy-productsMilk and other dairy products are also excellent sources of protein. Dairy products also contain calcium which is needed to strengthen and keep bones healthy. You will definitely want to enjoy reaping all the benefits of dairy products in your diet without the added calories it can bring. So choose either 1% milk or skim milk. Cheeses like cottage cheese and 0% fat yogurt (Greek yogurt) are also high in protein without the extra fat content.

Fats

In general, most people who live in western countries consume way too much fat and sugar. Processed foods are saturated with both of these things. The more processed food you can avoid, the more successful your diet plan will be in the long run. That being said, fat is an essential component for every single diet and every person needs to consume a certain amount of fat each day if they want to remain healthy. But do you know that there are different kinds of fat?

Saturated fats, the kind found in things like cakes, sausages and pie (think solid when chilled) are high in cholesterol and ultimately clog your arteries leading to heart disease. These should be avoided at all cost, if possible.

Unsaturated fats such as olive oil, the type of oils found in nuts and avocados are good for you. You can use and eat these liberally without worrying too much about what they are doing to your body. When you are dieting, though, it is best to measure them.

The 10 Most Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told!

Gym-MythsIf you follow mainstream nutrition guidelines you will almost certainly have come into contact with some nutrition lies over time. I thought I would write a short blog piece about the most destructive nutrition lies ever told. But, in my experience, these lies are only the beginning.

1. Eggs are not good for you

One of my biggest pet peeves is the way that certain nutrition professionals have demonized foods which are incredibly good for you. The worst example of this which comes to mind has to do with eggs. Because eggs contain cholesterol, at some point in time, nutritionists thought it was best to tell people not to eat them in order to decrease their risk for developing heart disease.

eggs-harmful-effectsRecently, however, research has shown that eggs’ cholesterol really does not raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol in human beings. In fact, new research shows that eggs raise the HDL (good) cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is highly linked to reduced risk for developing heart disease.

So, when you really consider eggs, you soon discover that they are one of the best nutritious foods you can eat. They contain many, many nutrients along with some unique antioxidants which help protect the human eye. Recent studies have also shown that people who eat eggs for breakfast lose considerably more weight than those who eat a bagel for breakfast.

2. Saturated Fat is terrible for you

Several decades ago, some folks made a decision that the apparent epidemic rates of heart disease which had cropped up was being caused by people eating too much fat, especially saturated fats. This conclusion was reached based on studies which had been carried out which were, in fact, highly flawed. The decision was also based on political decisions which have since been proved to be entirely wrong.

In 2010, a comprehensive review was conducted which took a second look at 21 epidemiological studies which included almost 350,000 participants. They found no link between the ingestion of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. None.

So, we are now left with the idea that saturated fat elevated a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease which has somehow evolved into conventional thought and “wisdom”. In actuality, consuming saturated fat raises the body’s HDL (good) cholesterol and causes changes to occur in the body’s LDL (bad)  cholesterol taking it from being small, dense bits to larger bits of cholesterol which are much more easily passed through the circulatory system.

3. Everyone should eat grains

grains-weight-lossWhy would it make sense to anyone that everyone should eat diets based primarily on grains? Agriculture has been a fairly recent addition to human evolution. Prior to the development of an agrarian society, humankind relied solely on protein. Our genes have not evolved that quickly.

When compared to other foods such as vegetables, grains do not contain many nutrients. They are also rich in something called phytic acid which attaches to minerals in the human gut and prevents the body from absorbing them.

In western diets, the most prevalent grain consumed in western diets is wheat. Modern wheat now contains copious protein known as gluten which has recently come under fire for causing a host of sensitivity in many, many people.

If you are gluten-sensitive or even gluten intolerant, eating wheat can cause many problems such as loose stools, bloating, pain and tiredness.

4. Eating extra protein harms your skeletal system and kidneys

High protein diets have been blamed for causing kidney disease and osteoporosis.

While it is true that eating great amounts of protein can increase the excretion of calcium from the bones, this is only a short-term effect. In studies that followed participants consuming high protein diets over a longer period of time, the effect was exactly the opposite. Over the long-term, protein was shown to improve skeletal health and decrease a person’s risk for fracture. Other studies have not found an association of kidney disease being caused by high protein diets either in people who are otherwise healthy.

5. Low-fat foods are what you should eat

low-fat-food_pyramidHave you ever eaten anything from which all the fat was entirely removed? Probably not. If you have, then you would know that it tastes just like cardboard. Not that I’m a regular consumer of cardboard. But trust me, when I say that no one would ever want to eat food after all the fat  has been removed. Food manufacturers have known this for a long time and so when they remove the fat from the food they are making, they replace it with other things to compensate for the loss in taste. These other things include sweeteners. This is usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup  or an artificial sweetener such as aspartame.

And although one would think that if you’re dieting, eating a food which contains aspartame is better for you than one that contains natural, refined sugars. But the evidence is beginning to mount which says that aspartame is NOT good for you. In fact, quite the opposite. It has been linked to obesity, depression, metabolic disorders such as Type II diabetes, heart disease and premature death. So unless you are a Type I diabetes, the kind of person who should not use sugar at all, you should decrease your intake of aspartame and replace it with sugar, just in smaller amounts.

6. Carbs should be your largest source of calories

In mainstream thought, dieticians and nutritionists say that everybody should follow a low-fat diet and consume about 50-60% of their daily food intake in the form of carbohydrates. This type of diet will serve up a lot of grains and sugar but include very few fatty foods such as eggs or meat. This is an excellent diet plan for people who are naturally thin. But what about us larger girls?

For anyone who has any kind of metabolic disorder such as Type II diabetes, a diet like this can be dangerous. This debate has been studied conclusively many times in randomized controlled diets. Each study has reached the same conclusion insofar that a low-carbohydrate, high fat diet is the best one to follow.

7. Vegetable and high omega-6 oils are best for you

Many people have touted polyunsaturated fats for a long time claiming that they decrease the risk for the development of heart disease. But in this case, it is important to point out that not all polyunsaturated fats are created equally. There is a big difference between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are very anti-inflammatory and will decrease your risk for developing many of the diseases which are associated with inflammation. As well, human being need to consume these fatty acid oils in certain ratios. If the ratios are off, problems may ensue.

The best source for omega-6 fats are found in processed seed and/or vegetable oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil. Prior to recent times, humans did not really have much access to omega-6 fats. Only modernization and processing has made that possible. But recent research which has looked at omega-6 fats when compared to polyunsaturated fats, has found that it has a direct link to heart disease. Lesson learned? Eat your omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, cod and sardines. Cut back on your omega-6 fats found in a variety of different oils.

8. Low carbohydrate diets are bad for you

Low-Carbohydrate-DietPersonally, i believe that if everyone switched to a low-carbohydrate diet many of the common health problems seen, certainly in the western world, would eventually go away. Following a low-fat diet in cases like this with Type II diabetes and heart disease simply will not help. But low-carbohydrate diets have repeatedly shown better results.

Every time a low-carbohydrate diet has been studied with controls, the data have shown that these diets reduce fat more quickly than diets which are low in fat and calorie restricted even when the participants are allowed to eat as much as they wish. Low-carbohydrate diets also lower blood pressure quickly and significantly. They also improve A1C readings in people with Type II diabetes quickly and significantly. They increase the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol in a very short period of time. They also lower triglyceride levels significantly. And even more significantly, the studies showed that the diets were easier for people to stick with over a longer period of time because the participants were not hungry all the time. More participants were able to make to the end of each of the studies.

9. Sugar is bad for you because it only contains empty calories

sugarThis is definitely true. Sugar has very little nutrient content and contains mostly empty calories. But that’s not why it’s bad for you. Sugar affects your metabolism in ways that set you up to gain weight rapidly and develop metabolic diseases like Type II diabetes. This is because it has a very high fructose content. Fructose is metabolized in the liver which turns it into fat and then secretes it into the blood. This eventually leads to high triglyceride levels and higher cholesterol. It also causes a resistance to the natural hormones which are insulin and leptin. Resistance to these hormones are natural stepping stones toward developing obesity and Type II diabetes. Eating sugar will set off a vicious cycle in which you crave more sugar and then eat more and then crave more and so on.

10. Eating high fat foods makes you fat

While it just seems logical that if you eat foods which are high in fat, you will get fat yourself, the bottom line is that the process is not as simple as all that. Although fat contains more calories per gram than a carbohydrate does, high fat diets do not, in and of themselves, make people fat. People who eat diets high in fat and high in carbohydrates get fat but not because of the fat they are eating. In fact, it has been shown scientifically that people who follow diets which are high in fat but low in carbohydrates lose more fat than people who follow low-fat diets alone.