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Volume 72, Issue 136, Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Balance key to a healthy diet

Shedding extra pounds is about 80 percent eating right and 20 percent exercise, personal trainer says

The Daily Cougar

This is the second in a four-part series on healthy lifestyles.

It's almost summer again, and that means it is time for many UH students to drop a few pounds and get those beach bodies ready.

"Eating right is 80 percent of losing weight and being healthy," personal trainer David Jenkins said. "The other 20 (percent) is cardio and weights."

So if you, like many students, are looking to take a little jiggle out of your wiggle this summer, then you're going to need to know the nutrition basics.

Not only will eating right help you look better, but it will improve your overall health and energy levels while decreasing your chances of contracting diseases later in life.

"A lot of people think they know how to eat healthy, but when it comes down to it, they don't know much," Jenkins said.

Whether you are looking to lose weight, gain muscle or just eat healthier, the fundamentals of good nutrition remain constant.

When designing a nutritional program, the first step is to determine how many calories you plan to consume per day. The number of calories you choose should be based on how many calories per day you burn and what your specific health goal is.

The best way to calculate the amount of calories you burn per day is to wear a heart rate monitor. After wearing a heart rate monitor for a few days, you will know the amount of calories you burn per day and be ready to take Step 2, which is figure out what it is you would like to accomplish with your nutritional program.

If your goal is to maintain your current weight, you should consume the amount of calories you burn per day. If losing weight is what you're striving for, you must create a caloric deficit. Keep in mind that 3,500 calories is equal to one pound, so if you eat 500 less calories per day, losing one pound a week is possible through diet alone.

Ideally, though, you should incorporate a combination of more calorie-burning activities with a lower calorie diet. An example of this would be to do a cardiovascular activity that burns 250 calories in addition to dropping your total calories per day by 250.

"When people are dieting they should never go under 1200 calories per day," Penny Wilson, a licensed dietician, said. "When you consume less than 1200 calories a day it is impossible to get all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy."

The macronutrients in your diet should break down as follows: 50 percent complex carbohydrates, 20 percent protein and 30 percent healthy fats, Wilson said.

Good sources of complex carbohydrates are oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes and yams. Examples of lean proteins include chicken, turkey and fish. Healthy fats are found in vegetable oils, fish and seafood. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential acids that our bodies cannot make -- they must be obtained through foods or supplements.

After you have determined your total caloric intake and the macronutrient percentage breakdown of those calories, split the total calories over five to seven meals, UH personal trainer Loren Salas said. 

"This keeps blood sugar more stable, keeps metabolism at a higher and more constant rate and finally provides a constant flow of nutrients for the body," Salas said.

Eating right isn't the only step to success -- water intake needs to be maintained to guarantee a healthy balance. 

"Eight cups (of water) a day should be the goal, but really a person you should try to drink as much water as possible," Wilson said.

For more nutrition and diet information, visit the UH Wellness Center, Room 35, University Center Underground.

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