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Healthy nutrition basics; reduce your ABCDEF!

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Eating a well balanced, healthy diet contributes to 80% of weight loss so if you’re really serious about weight loss and improving your health, nutrition is key. Even if your gym regime is perfect, the choices you make when it comes to your meals and snacks can make or break your goals so you really need to get both under control.

A general overview; where the calories add up!

The four key macronutrients are not created equally and their calorie content demonstrates why some foods and drinks are not so great for your diet!:

– Alcohol (7 calories per gram)
– Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram)
– Protein (4 calories per gram)
– Fats (9 calories per gram)

With that in mind, here’s a general guide on things to cut back on as much as possible (ABCDEF):

Alcohol     
Can slow your metabolism down by up to 73%. It leaves your body dehydrated and your liver has to work extra hard to cleanse it from your body (the reason that it’s a separate group in the macronutrients above is because it won’t classify under the other categories; it’s essentially a toxin). It’s not worth it.

Bread
Kiwis have a tendency to eat too much of this! If you’re a bread-a-holic, try substituting a few pieces for rice cakes or wholegrain crackers. We also tend to eat too much highly processed white bread which brings us to…:

(Simple) Carbohydrates
Our bodies need some carbs as it’s our fuel/energy. However, some carbs are better than others. Ones to reduce if possible include white rice (can substitute for brown rice), white bread (wholegrain bread), white flour (wholemeal flour) and refined white sugar (use honey, Stevia or agave syrup to sweeten when possible).

Dairy
Can make muscles look ‘soft’ and also products like cheese, cream and butter can be high in fat content. Opt for low fat versions whenever possible.

Extra Salt and Sugar
Avoid adding extra salt to your food as excess salt can cause blood pressure issues and make your body retain water weight/bloating. Also, back to the sugar… an easy place to cut back on this is from sugary soft drinks and energy drinks – there are a lot of empty calories in these and the drinks won’t fill you up. Fruit juice also has a lot of sugar in it, at least if you eat an actual piece of fruit you get the fibre out of it. The gist of this: You’re better off drinking water.

Fatty and Fried Foods
Seems like an obvious one, but we have to say it. This includes chips, pies, most takeaways, buttered popcorn, cakes, biscuits, candy, icecream… You get the idea. These products usually grant short-term happiness, but will you still feel happy a few hours from eating it? How about six weeks later when you do your measurements again? If there’s something in particular you love, don’t cut it out completely; just make sure you have it in moderation with a generally healthy diet.

If I have to reduce all of that, what CAN I eat?

Lean meats
Choose lean red meat or white meats with minimal fat like turkey, chicken or fish.

Water
Should be your number one beverage and you can have as much as you like (zero calories – wohoo!). If you’re not that keen on water by itself, try a squeeze of lemon. Keep a few bottles in the fridge if you’re more likely to drink it chilled.

Fruit
Just go easy on them as there is a lot of natural sugar. There are far worse things you could be eating than fruit and it’s better that you eat this than a piece of cake!

Complex carbohydrates
Such as wholegrain bread (preferably not wholemeal – you have to be able to SEE the grains in it!), wholegrain pasta and brown rice.

Vegetables
This means anything green and leafy, or with colour such as capsicum and carrots. These nutrient-rich foods are pretty much a free-for-all, so load up on them – half your plate at dinner and lunch should be salad or green veges. Remember, this doesn’t mean potato, kumara, starchy dense veges etc… They are natural foods, but go easy on them!

Things that don’t come in packets
Means they’re less likely to have flavourings, colours, preservatives etc. Lite doesn’t necessarily mean fat free, Fat free doesn’t mean it’s not laden with calories, and chocolate flavoured biscuits may not actually have any chocolate in them…

Overall, just try to make better choices. Be restrained – allow yourself something sweet each day if you have a sweet tooth, but keep the portion size small.

Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – lkunl

Article brought to you by NZ Real Health

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