Achieving or Maintaining a Healthy Weight
On average we consume between 1,200 and 2,200 calories a day. The best way to stay healthy is so make sure we receive the maximum amount of nutrition from those calories, avoiding what we often hear referred to as ’empty calories’. Empty calories are those that don’t provide many essential macro and micro nutrients for the amount of calories consumed.
Let’s compare 2 different snacks, candy bar and a snack of an orange and slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter – both have about 250 calories, so why does it matter which you choose?
-The candy bar provides little nutritional value and will metabolize rapidly giving you an initial rush of energy that will quickly fade. This quick rise and then fall of blood sugar will leaving you with even less energy than before, and can lead to additional cravings for more sugar.
-The orange and piece of toast with peanut butter will also give you an initial boost in energy thanks to natural sugar in the orange, but this energy boost will last for a longer time as the fat and fiber from the toast and peanut butter metabolizes more slowly, keeping your blood sugar even and keeping you feeling full longer.
Maintaining a healthy weight is key for a healthy long life, and the basic elements to achieve a healthy weight are pretty straight forward:
- Don’t drink your calories – the average sugar sweetened beverage has around 250 calories and little if any nutritional value. This includes sodas, energy drinks, sweetened coffee and tea drinks, and juices.
- Get up and move – between sitting a work, school and in the car, most of us don’t move around enough. Try not to sit any longer than 45 minutes and track your steps using an app on your phone, pedometer, or fitness tracker.
- Limit processed foods and refined carbohydrates – Eat foods that more closely resemble what they look like in their natural state. Refined carbs such as white rice, white flour, white bread are sugar, plain and simple.
- Add more fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and are also comprised of plenty of fiber and water to help you feel full with fewer calories.
- Try adding more healthy fats to your diet – new research shows that increasing healthy fats leads to more stable blood sugar and reduce cravings for carbs and sweets. Healthy fats have also been show to protect your brain health. Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, nuts, avocados, flax seeds, and omega 3 eggs are all great sources.
Sugar – too much of a sweet thing
The American Heart Association recommends that women and children consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and men no more than 9. Considering that the average American consumes about 23 teaspoons of added sugar a day, we are definitely way off the mark. And the biggest source of that added sugar is sugar sweetened beverages such as soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit punch, and sweetened teas and coffee drinks. One 20 oz. bottle of Mountain Dew has 19 teaspoons of sugar alone! In fact, sugar sweetened beverages account for nearly 50% of all added sugar in the average American diet. That is as much as all other sources of added sugar combined.