4 Things You Should Know If You Want to Eat Healthier This Year
One in five Americans who make New Year’s resolutions commit to losing weight. One in five of those people will actually stick to their resolutions two years later. Many people don’t fail their resolutions because they lack the motivation or willpower to maintain a healthier diet. They just didn’t know enough about nutrition to make impactful lifestyle changes.
It takes years of study to become proficient in the science of nutrition. There are still many mysteries of the digestive system that scientists have yet to unravel. But if you’re only committed to slimming down, you can make a lot of progress if you only follow these four basic guidelines!
1. Calories In, Calories Out
The laws of physics are universal. Although many unique health factors determine how rapidly someone can lose weight, they will necessarily do so if they consume fewer calories than they burn. This is the defining principle of the calories in, calories out (CICO) diet.
John Cisna exemplified CICO in practice. The Iowa high school teacher ate nothing but McDonald’s for 180 days – but because he ate only 2,000 calories (and also walked 45 minutes) daily, he dropped 60 pounds in just six months.
To be certain, if a nutritionist ever recommends eating nothing but McDonald’s, your best response is to point your finger at them and start laughing. But the teacher did demonstrate that weight loss is inevitable if you only eat fewer calories than you burn in the course of a day.
How many calories should you eat in a day? The answer to that question greatly depends on your sex, height, age, lifestyle and current level of activity. Swimmer Michael Phelps was advised to eat 10,000 calories every day while he was training for the Olympics! That said, the average man is advised to consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories in a given day; for women, the recommended range is lower at 1,600 to 2,400 calories.
2. Sources of Calories Matter
CICO is too simple to model a healthy diet after. In reality, you want a diet that has a healthy balance of macronutrients. Macros are the three basic categories of nutrients your body requires to function optimally: carbs, proteins and fats. When they are eaten in the right ratios, macros will help you feel more energetic, avoid many health conditions, and make weight loss easier to achieve.
- Carbs – 40 to 65% of daily calorie intake
- Proteins – 10 to 35% of daily calorie intake
- Fats – 20 to 25% of daily calorie intake
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as well. The all-important beverage regulates body temperature, protects vital organs, keeps joints lubricated and makes it easier for the body to flush out waste products. Men are advised to drink 15.5 cups of water daily; for women, the advised amount is 11.5 cups. If you fall short of those amounts, don’t worry, as most people get about 20% of their daily fluid intake simply by eating food.
3. Not All Fats Are Bad
Too many people who want to eat healthier assume that all fats are bad. This is partly the fault of the sugar industry, which actually paid scientists to blame obesity on consumption of dietary fat instead of their own product back during the 1960s.
In truth, some fats are good for your health when they are eaten in moderation. Unsaturated fats, which are found in foods like olives, nuts, seeds and fish, can improve levels of blood cholesterol, reduce inflammation and stabilize heart rhythm. Saturated fats, which are predominantly found in meats and dairy, are linked to heart disease, cancer and several chronic health conditions.
In short, you don’t have to torture yourself by abstaining from all fat when you want to eat a healthier diet. The Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association both recommend a daily calorie intake that is comprised of 25 to 35% fat. Just stick to plant-based fats (i.e. not from McDonald’s) and you’ll be in good shape!
4. Light Exercise Is Good Exercise
Many people who commit to eating healthier also throw themselves into rigorous exercise routines. We commend their enthusiasm, but it’s important for everyone to understand just how beneficial light exercise can be.
According to a recent medical study, replacing just 30 minutes of sedentary time with light exercise correlates to a 24% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. An exercise regimen which reduces body weight by as little as 5% can improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. A light, manageable exercise regimen can also release endorphins that reduce anxiety and depression. It can even enhance memory.
All of this is to say that you only have to gain by exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Taking a brisk walk on a treadmill while you watch one episode of a sitcom after dinner each day may very well transform your life.
Would you like guidance on nutrition that’s specifically tailored to your unique health needs? Then we welcome you to schedule a consultation at Fargo Spine’s chiropractic clinic in Fargo, ND today! Our Functional Wellness and Nutrition services offer many benefits to our patients, and we’re poised to help you no matter your specific health goals.