Understanding the USDA Food Pyramid

Restricting Fats and Consuming Fluids and Vitamins

We've covered the major staples of your diet, but there are other considerations for truly balanced nutrition.


Making wiser food choices isn't limited to solids; it includes beverages, too. Watching the amount of calories in beverages is another good way to consume fewer calories. Water has no calories, yet it keeps you feeling full and less likely to overeat. Increasing the amount of water you drink to eight cups per day is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Although water does not supply any particular nutrients, it is an important part of a healthy weight loss plan. Water expands the fiber you eat, further helping you to feel full and satisfied. It assists in many bodily functions, and it helps turn stored body fat into energy by transporting the nutrients needed to make this happen. Water also prevents fatigue, mental confusion, and headaches. Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, so eating them will also increase your water intake.

Vitamins, Minerals and Phytochemicals

The Dietary Guidelines are adamant about choosing foods low in calories and brimming with nutrients. Nutrients include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, as well as carbohydrate, protein, and fat. For good health while losing weight, you need the recommended amounts of vitamin A, numerous B-vitamins, and vitamins C, D, E, and K. Important minerals include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium, and potassium. Phytochemicals are natural plant substances that appear to help prevent cancer and may play a role in preventing many other chronic diseases. They include thousands of compounds, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, isoflavones, and protease inhibitors.

Typically people eat too many foods low in vitamins and minerals but high in calories. The more foods and beverages you consume that are low in nutrient density, the harder it is to get all the vitamins and minerals you need without getting too many calories and gaining weight. For weight control and good health, it needs to be the other way around. Choose foods low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals most of the time. These nutrient-dense foods are the base of your balanced eating pattern. Sufficient vitamins and minerals enable the body to function properly and use up stored fat appropriately as fat cells release it. The best food choices to accomplish this include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or nonfat dairy products, and lean protein sources.

The Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid show you the way to a well-balanced, low-calorie eating plan. Delicious foods from every food group are included. No foods are forbidden. Both guides provide specific amounts of food to eat depending on the amount of calories you need to lose weight. Basing your eating routine on these guides and balancing it with adequate physical activity will put you on the road to a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle for life!

Controlling your caloric intake is key when it comes to losing weight. With the help of the new Dietary Guidelines, you can easily learn how to make better decisions about the food you eat and be well on your way to achieving your weight-loss goal.

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