"Processed" is in quotes here because there is no legal definition of the term. The International Food Information Council Foundation defines processed foods as "Any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it's available for us to eat." This is such a broad definition that it could constitute any food that's chopped, conveniently pre-packaged, canned, boxed, blended, and/or pre-cooked. In this respect, processed foods are not necessarily unhealthy. Examples of foods that are considered processed but are not unhealthy include low-sodium canned vegetables and fruit, whole-grain bars containing nuts and seeds, quick oatmeal, and almond drink.
Processed foods generally contain preservatives (e.g., sodium). Does adding preservatives to a food inherently make it unhealthy? Not necessarily. Preservatives serve the purpose of increasing the shelf life of foods so that they do not spoil as quickly. The real issue here is how healthy are the preservatives themselves and what, if any, effect do they have on the body over the long term. Artificial flavors, colors, and assorted chemicals may also be added to processed foods to make the food more palatable and appetizing. Are these manmade ingredients unhealthy for consumption over the long term? Again, not necessarily. But having said this, words of wisdom are in order here: take a balanced approach and eat foods from each of the food groups daily and in moderation (i.e., fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods) to ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy life free of disease and sickness.
BOTTOM LINE: Not all processed foods are bad for your health. Be sure to reduce your consumption of processed foods that contain high amounts of sodium, sugar and fats.
Most people know that eating too much sugar may lead to chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Excessive sugar intake has also been linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fatty liver disease. Now a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that eating too much sugar may increase the risk of heart disease, the top chronic disease killer of Americans. It's important to note that sugar in and of itself is not the problem because many natural healthy foods such as fruit contain sugar. Fruit also contains fiber and nutrients which lessen the impact sugar has on the body.
The main issue brought into focus with this study is the increased risk of heart disease for those Americans who eat food containing too much added sugar. Most of the processed foods we eat contain added sugar to improve flavor and texture. The biggest culprit by far is soda. One 12-oz can of soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar amounting to 140 calories! What harm can drinking just one can of soda have on your health? Plenty. Especially if you drink a can of soda daily--it all adds up over time and can have a deleterious effect on your health before you know it. Other foods to watch out for include baked goods such as cakes, pies, and cookies as well as fruit drinks, candy, yogurt with added fruit, and ice cream.
So what is a healthy amount of sugar you can eat without increasing your risk of heart disease? The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends less than 25% of your daily caloric intake should come from added sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends men should eat less than 150 calories (nine teaspoons) and women should eat less than 100 calories (six teaspoons) daily from added sugar. With all of these conflicting recommendations, what guideline should we follow? Nearly three out of four Americans eat more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugar while 10% consume about a quarter or more of their calories from added sugar. This study found that Americans who get about 15% of their calories from added sugar had almost a 20% increased risk of heart disease compared to diets containing little or no added sugar. The study also found that those who ate from 17 to 21% of their calories from added sugar had almost a 40% increased risk of heart disease. Finally, those who ate more than 21% of their calories from added sugar had almost an 80% increased risk (!) of heart disease. So clearly one should eat no more than 15% of their calories from added sugar (300 calories in a 2000-calorie diet) to lessen the risk (i.e., one in five chance) of incurring heart disease.
How can you track the amount of added sugar you're eating? Simply read the nutrition labels of foods and pay attention to words with the suffix -ose. Examples include fructose, maltose and sucrose. Also be aware of foods which contain any kind of syrup (e.g., corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.).
In order to determine how many Calories (or kilocalories) you should be eating, it's essential to take into consideration five parameters:
There are three basic body composition goals:
After calculating your recommended caloric intake, the next step is to determine your recommended macronutrient ratio. This ratio is dependent on one of four basic fitness goals:
Finally, the last step is to determine how many grams of each macronutrient you should be eating daily. This can be calculated based on your recommended caloric intake value and keeping in mind that there are about 4 kcals per gram of carbs and protein and about 9 kcals per gram of fat. For instance, if your current recommended caloric intake is 2300 kcals and your fitness goal is to get lean (40:30:30), then your macronutrient grams should be about 230g of carbs (2300 * 0.40 / 4), 173g of protein (2300 * 0.30 / 4) and 77g of fat (2300 * 0.30 / 9).
I recommend using the MealLogger app compatible with your iphone to track your goal Calories and carb and protein grams. This app allow you to log the foods you eat by taking a picture of the food with your iphone. You may also network with professionals within the fields of nutrition or personal training for guidance.
* EER (males) = 662 - 9.53A + PA (15.91W + 539.6H) or EER (females) = 354 - 6.91A + PA(9.36W + 726H) where
A = age
PA = physical activity factor
W = bodyweight
H = height
Does it matter what time you should eat to lose bodyweight and if so, what's the best time of day to eat to lose bodyweight?
Analysis on this topic is largely based on research which is observational in nature rather than cause-and-effect. Nevertheless, there does seem to be an observational relationship between metabolic rate, circadian rhythm and meal intake times. When you eat affects your appetite hormone levels (e.g., insulin) which may cause disturbances in your circadian rhythm and lead to metabolic syndrome (i.e., obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). Eating your biggest meal before 3pm tends to cause greater bodyweight loss than eating later.
A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity provides support that eating more food earlier in the day is more effective for losing bodyweight. This study compared two groups of participants: those that ate most of their food before 3pm and those who ate most of their food after 3pm. In both groups, caloric intake, macronutrient composition, activity level, sleep quantity, and appetite hormone levels were similar. The group that ate their biggest meal before 3pm lost more bodyweight at a faster rate than those who ate their biggest meal after 3pm. Other studies support this finding when it was discovered that those people who tend to skip breakfast are more likely to become overweight or obese than those who regularly eat breakfast. The reason for this may be because those people who skip breakfast tend to eat more food later in the day when their metabolic rate is usually reduced, thus perpetuating bodyweight increase.
BOTTOM LINE: Eating most of your food before mid-afternoon when your metabolic rate is elevated may be an effective and healthy habit for you to lose bodyweight. Certainly, avoid eating large late-night meals when your activity level is low--this is a recipe for weight gain!
When you feel fatigued or tired it may be because you're not eating enough food or eating the wrong kinds of foods. Remember, it's food that fuels your body. Your body needs food to function properly. Failing to fuel your body in a healthy manner surely will have consequences such as feeling sluggish and lethargic. Here are some suggestions you should consider if or when you feel tired:
The benefits of eating nuts far outweigh the risks. Nuts are high in fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds which promote good health. Nuts improve cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and help keep arteries flexible which minimizes elevated systolic blood pressure. Eating nuts regularly can also reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. The risks of eating nuts is excessive consumption of calories since nuts are relatively high in calories. This should NOT be of concern since the reduced rate of heart disease and cancer rates from those who eat nuts far outweighs the risk of weight gain. In fact, eating nuts may actually reduce your bodyweight and make you leaner due to their relatively high protein and fiber content. It's fiber within nuts that makes you feel fuller longer so that you're less likely to eat as much food later. In addition, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that eating nuts regularly may allow you to live longer. So go ahead, eat nuts but do so in moderation--think one handful per day.
Fruits and vegetables should be eaten regularly throughout the day (read: each and every meal). Why is it so important to eat fruits and vegetables? Here are the most notable benefits:
Inadequate nutrition is continuing to affect the health of most Americans, contributing to chronic health diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, vascular disease, kidney disease, joint pain, arthritis, and cancer. Such a shame since all of these diseases can be alleviated by eating a more healthy diet along with exercise. Here are the most prevalent problems associated with the American diet that need to be corrected: