Eating a nutrient-dense diet encourages health and wellness as you lose weight. Medical weight loss programs like the OPTIFAST plan pack high levels of nutrients into low-calorie foods, satisfying your body’s need for food and helping you to feel full despite a reduced calorie diet.
Even after your OPTIFAST program comes to an end, eating a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can benefit your health mentally and physically, as well as help to maintain your weight loss. Following a nutrient dense diet improves your ability to sleep, reduces your risk for developing chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension, and is even shown to help with stress management, reducing your risk of struggling with depression or ongoing anxiety.
What to Look for in your Diet
But tracking your nutrient intake can prove tricky if you aren’t sure what to look for. There are six classes of nutrients and more than 50 essential nutrients that should be present in your diet. From amino acids to zinc, there is a lot of information out there for you to process about nutrients.
What is an essential nutrient?
An essential nutrient is a nutrient, mineral or vitamin that your body cannot produce on its own. Your body requires these nutrients for optimal health, but it relies on the foods you eat to get them.
When you eat a diet that is devoid of nutrients you may develop a nutrient deficiency. This is a potentially hazardous condition in which the body lacks the nutrients it needs to thrive. Sometimes this results in uncomfortable symptoms as certain bodily functions start to shut down. Following a healthy, nutrient-rich diet reduces your risk for a deficiency and can help you feel healthy as you lose weight.
What nutrients do I need?
There are six classes of nutrients. They are:
For optimal health you should consume a well-balanced diet that includes each of these nutrients. Some of these nutrients, especially carbohydrates and fats, have poor reputations of being unhealthy. While there are unhealthy sources of fats and carbohydrates, there are also healthy ways that you can consume these items to give your body the nutrients it needs.
For example, carbohydrates provide you with energy and aid in bowel function. There are several primary forms of this nutrient, including sugar, starch and fiber. You can get plenty of energy by eating healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Likewise, there are four types of fat. Avoid foods that are rich in trans and saturated fats and opt for mono and polyunsaturated fats. There are many vitamins that require fat to be absorbed into the bloodstream, and healthy fats will support your joints and brain health. You can find healthy fats in foods like olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Have a closer look at the foods you eat regularly and consider the nutrient value they are providing you. To determine the nutritional value of any item, check out the food label on the side or back packaging of the item you are about to enjoy.