Before you begin with any diet, it is important to be familiar with the basic facts of food and how they relate to your weight loss.
Below are some basic components of food and what they do for you.
The body's principal source of energy. All sugars and starches that we consume are carbohydrates. Examples include table sugar, whole grains, pasta, fruit, popcorn, vegetables and more. Carbs can be classified into two types, simple and complex. Simple carbs are sugars and complex carbs are primarily starches.
Carbohydrates are transformed by the body into one substance, glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that is carried in the blood and transported to the cells for energy. Any glucose not used by the cells is converted into glycogen that is stored in the muscles and liver. The body's glycogen storage capacity is limited, so any unused glucose is converted to fat.
There are many different diets and programs concerning carbohydrates, such as the low-carb diet, no-carb diet and the good-carb diet.
Fiber is not a single substance. It is a group of different compounds that have a varied effect in the body. All types of fiber are parts of plants that can't be digested. There are two categories of fiber, those that are soluble in water and those that are not soluble in water.
An advantage of fiber is if you eat foods with high fiber, then you will have less room for high calorie and fat foods. Fiber also has many health benefits. Foods that are rich in fiber also tend to be high in anti-oxidants and other substances that may protect against a variety of cancers.
Protein is the basic material of life. It makes up 3/4's of our body tissue. Without dietary protein, all body functions would not take place. Proteins can be broken into complete and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins supply a sufficient amount of the nine essential amino acids.
Adequate amounts of protein are necessary to build muscles. Eating a normal, balanced diet should give you adequate amounts of protein. Some diet programs are based on eating a certain amount of protein every day.
Fats are essential for the proper functioning of the body. We need to consume some fats to remain healthy. Fats supply necessary fatty acids that the body can only get from foods. Fats also serve as the storage substance for the body's excess calories. When the body has depleted its carbohydrate stores, it draws on fat. This makes fats as important as carbohydrates for energy.
Additional benefits of fats include maintaining healthy skin and hair, regulating blood cholesterol levels, and giving you the sensation of feeling full.
There are saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans fats. The majority of our fat intake should come from the unsaturated fats.
Without vitamins, we could not exist. They affect all functions in the body and help regulate them. Most vitamins must be obtained from food. We need 13 vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, B (8 different B Vitamins).
Vitamins are either water-soluble (B + C) or fat-soluble (A,D,E,K)
Each vitamin carries out specific functions. If your diet is lacking in a certain vitamin, you may develop a deficiency disease.
Minerals act as nutrients and are essential to many processes in the body, including the functioning of the heart and digestive system and bone formation. Some key minerals we need include Boron, Calcium, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Fluoride, Iodine, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc.
Water is essential to human life. Half of our weight is water. The body loses and needs to replace water every day. The typical suggestion is 6-8 glasses of liquid every day. Recently reports have come out that you need to drink enough water to quench your thirst.