What is the best dieting plan for maintaining weight?
The biological definition of diet is the controlled consumption of food or drink for a particular purpose being to maintain a healthy body weight. So, if one has to think about this definition then diet will mean something different to each group of people.
Men and women, for starters, will need different caloric intakes due to differences in height and weight ranges as well as hormonal differences. Children and adults will also need different diets as will people with glandular diseases such as diabetes and thyroid related issues.
Where did we go wrong?
As humans have evolved over the last 10,000 years, dietary intake has changed due to changing environmental factors. These factors seemed to have stabilized during the industrial revolution where the introduction of refined and readily packed foods were available for consumption. This made the need to hunt for food obsolete in the urban areas and thus led to caloric over-intake and therefore obesity started to become an issue.
What's considered healthy?
The main food sources that humans consume include carbohydrates (whole grains rather than refined products), proteins (lean meats with low fat content), fruits, vegetables (especially leafy, dark green ones), dairy and oil products. There needs to be a balance between these products, as well as their preparation, as this makes a big difference in the amount of essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs.
The human body also needs essential fatty acids which the body itself cannot produce. Therefore, these fatty acids need to be obtained from our diet. These include omega 3 fatty oils which help with cellular membrane integrity, neurological development and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
What's the plan then?
At the end of the day, planning a balanced diet needs to take into consideration gender, age and one’s health profile.
Your primary care physician can first evaluate you to exclude any conditions which would affect your weight. Thereafter, they would refer you to a locally board certified dietician in your area to assess your individual situation and offer you the best advice.
Caloric control alone may be enough to help control your weight and even decrease your body fat percentage but, with advancing age the body's metabolism decreases. This makes losing weight more difficult as one gets older. In order to help increase the body's metabolism, there are a few additional interventions one can add to a balanced, well controlled diet that may be beneficial.
- Make sure you get around 8 hours of sleep at night. This allows your body to recover from the day's activities and helps to regulate your circadian rhythm so that your metabolism remains stable.
- Drink 6-8 full glasses of water per day. Water helps to regulate your gastrointestinal tract so that your gut doesn't become lazy.
- Try to partake in moderate physical activities. A brisk walk 2-3 times a day for 30 minutes at a time helps to improve your cardiovascular system and also increases the motility of your gastrointestinal tract. Both these factors help to improve your metabolism as well.
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