nutrition

Good nutrition is essential to maintaining health, especially as you get older. The food pyramid is a guide, created by the USDA, to help Americans choose the right combination of foods each day for optimum nutrition. It divides foods into groups?bread, cereal, rice, and pasta; fruit; vegetables; milk, yogurt, and cheese; meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts; fats, oils, and sweets?and describes how much of each food group people should eat. In recent years, MyPlate, also from the USDA, has replaced the food pyramid. MyPlate features a divided plate graphic representing the major food groups?fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

Certain food groups can help you lose weight. Eating high protein foods such as lean chicken breast, beans, fish, and tofu curb hunger, so you eat less. Protein is an important component of any diet, but it shouldn?t entirely replace other food groups, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

A low carb diet such as Atkins or South Beach is another approach to weight loss that focuses on protein and fats, and limits carbs from grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, and other sources. Yet this diet may not be a good long-term approach. While low carb diets do encourage weight loss in the short term, after a year or two they offer little advantage over traditional low-fat diets. And very restrictive low carb diets could potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Watching your calorie intake is another way to control your weight. An online calorie counter can help you determine how many calories are in the foods you eat, and how many calories you consume each day. Pair up a calorie counter with a weight loss calculator, in which you input your weight, height, age, activity level, and the amount of weight you?d like to lose. The weight loss calculator will help you determine how many calories you should eat each day to reach your goal.

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