It seems each day there is another new diet being touted, and many are making big bucks off of false hopes and bogus claims. Most of these diets aim to have you eliminate some foods or set up rules for how much or when to eat. Any diet will cause a body to lose weight in the short run, but most lead to cravings and bingeing, with an eventual regaining of any lost weight. Some diets may even be harmful to your body. It's hard to sort the fact from fiction! Are carbs bad? Is fat the root of all evil?
Why do I need carbohydrates?
They are the body's main energy source and help to maintain a normal blood sugar level. They are stored in our muscles to be used as energy between meals and snacks. Carbohydrate rich foods are important sources of fiber and B vitamins. They help us to feel satisfied and full.
What are some nutritious sources of carbohydrates?
- Whole grains- whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, bagels, and muffins
- Starchy vegetables- corn, peas, lentils, potatoes
- Legumes or beans- pinto, navy, black, kidney, black-eyed peas, etc.
- High fiber snacks- pretzels, popcorn, fig newtons
Why do I need protein?
It is needed to build and repair muscles. It is the building block of major organs. All of our enzymes, antibodies, and many hormones are made up of protein. Protein rich foods are important sources of iron, zinc, and niacin.
What are some nutritious sources of protein?
- Meats- chicken, seafood, beef, pork, venison, lamb, buffalo
- Soy proteins- tofu, veggie burgers, veggie ground beef, veggie luncheon meats
- Nut proteins- peanuts, mixed nuts, peanut/soy/almond butter
- Dairy proteins- greek yogurt, Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast
- Energy Bars- Luna Bar, Balance Bar, Protein Power Bar, Genisoy Bar
Why do I need fat?
Fat is an important energy source and helps to maintain our immune system. It is a building block for estrogen, cortisone, and thyroid hormones. It is a necessary component of all cells in our bodies. It helps us to feel full and it adds enjoyment to foods.
What are some nutritious sources of fat?
- Peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and other nut butters.
- Vegetable oils including olive, safflower, sunflower, peanut, corn, canola, soy
- Avocados and olives
- Cheese, margarine, butter, sour cream, mayonnaise
Contributed by Page Love, MS, RD, LD 2004 National Eating Disorders Association.
For additional information about how much of each of these critical building blocks is needed by your body, check out Dietary & Eating Guidelines.