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Nutrient Deficiency when Dieting

If you're dieting and not watching what you eat, then nutrient deficiency is a very real possibility. This can then have knock effects if you are young and still growing. So what are the nutrients we need to watch out for?

Lots of people want to lose weight, but what harm can you do if you try to speed up the results? Many people go to quite extreme measures to lose the pounds and a recent report from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found that young girls are risking iron deficiency and anaemia by not eating correctly.

Why It's Important to Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating the right foods in order to maintain a healthy nutritional balance is especially important when you are dieting. When young people are involved, the issues are magnified as the younger you are the more growth you need to maintain and your body has a lot more key nutritional needs. These are vitamins, minerals and nutrients that have to be eaten in order to ensure your body grows and develops properly.

It is of course possible to lose weight while eating healthily and many doctors and nutritionists would argue that if you eat a good, healthy diet, your weight will be less of a problem.

Good nutrition is thus the key to managing your weight. So what is involved in good nutrition?

What Are the Basics of Good Nutrition?

Lets look at the basics. What you eat needs to provide your body with sufficient amounts of all the basic building blocks that it needs to function. Whatever form you eat these nutrients, there are four key elements to good nutrition:

  • Carbohydrates (Carbs)
  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Water

Below we have broken these down to explain a little more about each and why they are important.

Water

You may have learned at school that water makes up around 60% of our body! 

We all know we need plenty of water, but most people don't drink enough water. The consequences of not drinking enough water include:

  • Headaches between 70 and 90% of headaches are due to dehydration
  • Poor skin, dry skin
  • Excess body fat water is essential for fat burning
  • Poor muscle tone and size
  • Decreased digestive efficiency and organ function (constipation etc)
  • Increased toxicity in the body
  • Joint and muscle soreness
  • Water retention and bloating

You need at least 8 glasses of water per day. Some simple tips to help you drink enough water include:

  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
  • Drink before and after a workout.
  • Drink a glass of water with every meal
  • If you're trying to lose weight, drink a glass of water before every meal.
  • Get a few water bottles and keep one with you at all times.

Carbohydrates

Although carbohydrates get some bad press, at least 50% of your calories should really come from carbohydrates. They are the body's main source of energy, the fuel your brain can use.

There are however what is easily split up as 'Good Carbohydrates' and 'Bad Carbohydrates'.

Good Carbohydrates

Found in fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, and whole grains. Why are they good?

  • They contain essential micronutrients
  • A good source of fibre
  • They break down slowly
  • Energy is released into the bloodstream gradually

Bad Carbohydrates

These are refined sugars and highly processed starches such as white flour, white rice, refined cereals, sweets, snack foods, and fizzy drinks. They are typically found in biscuits, cakes, pastries, breakfast cereals, snacks.

These have few nutrients, and break down easily in your stomach, sending sugar into your bloodstream quickly. They are linked with weight gain, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Fats

Fats are essential for many processes including cell growth, blood flow, and supporting your immune system. Again, there are 'good' and bad.

Bad Fats

The worst are trans fats these are found in hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are used in most commercial baked goods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, fried foods, crisps, takeaways, and salad dressings. Trans fats increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, and slow down the function of brain cells.

OK fats

Natural saturated fats. These are found in animal fats (milk, butter, cream, cheese, lard, meat), and are OK in moderation.

Good Fats

Mono unsaturates (olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado) or natural polyunsaturates (unprocessed vegetable oil, nuts and seeds, whole grains, meat, dairy, eggs, sea food). These include Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Protein

Protein is the building block of living things, helping muscles, tendons, and bones to grow and repair. Protein can help in weight loss because a high protein meal is the most satiating (filling) people on high protein diets lose more weight than those on other diets.

Good sources of protein include lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, beans, and pulses. You should aim to include some protein with every meal.

Further Reading

Everyday Health - Nutritional Guidelines

National Institute for Health & Care Excellence - www.nice.org.uk

 

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