Frequently Asked Questions about Nutrition

What is a "balanced" diet?

According to the American Heart Association, a healthy, balanced diet should get approximately 55-60% of its calories from carbohydrates, and not more than 30% of its calories from fat (maximum 10% from saturated fats), which would leave 10-15% from protein -- all this from a variety of food sources.

It's important to note that the source of carbohydrates should come from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits, rather than white rice, white pasta and white bread.

For an interesting, updated take on the food pyramid, take a look at "Food Pyramids -- What Should You Really Eat?" from the Harvard School of Public Health.

What will happen if you eat more calories than your body burns up?

If you eat more calories than you burn, your body will store the excess energy as fat. Simple enough, yet we tend to forget this basic fact.

What does it take to lose a pound or two of weight a week?

To lose 1 pound of weight (preferably fat, not muscle) you need to burn up approximately 3500 calories. The simplest and safest way to lose one to two pounds of weight a week is to create a deficit of 3500 - 7000 calories a week (500 - 1000 calories a day) while staying within a reasonable amount of total daily calories. One way to create this deficit is by eating a bit less and moving a lot more.

I've heard of a vitamin that women who are thinking of becoming pregnant should take. Which one is it?
Folic acid, a B vitamin, can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

The U.S. Public Health service recommends that all women who could possibly become pregnant should get 400 mcg of folic acid a day. (Source: CDC and FDA)

Should I take a vitamin supplement?

Just like vitamin and mineral deficiencies, an overabundance of vitamins and minerals can cause serious health problems.

While a multi-vitamin should never take the place of a healthy diet, the Harvard Medical school believes there is mounting evidence that taking a multi-vitamin in addition to a healthy diet may be important in preventing several chronic diseases. (Source: Harvard Medical School)

How much water should I drink a day?

There does not appear to be any scientific research behind the saying that everybody keeps hearing: "Make sure you drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day!"

Here are some rules of thumb:
  • If your urine is dark yellow or brown, you are not getting enough water. If you urine is a light yellow, then you are most likely properly hydrated.
  • Increase water consumption with exercise.

Remember you get part of your daily water requirement not only from the liquids you drink (excluding sugary or caffeinated drinks) but also from the foods you eat.

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