What is making us overweight? The fat or the carbs? People all have been debating this for years.

Do you lose weight by eliminating most of the fat in your diet? Or do you shed those kilos by cutting out all carbohydrates and filling up on protein -” along with the saturated fat that comes with it?

The answer is neither. If you want to lose weight and remain healthy, you have to eat fewer calories and exercise more.

Proteins and carbohydrates are both essential for maintaining good health. Both of these nutrients play a unique role in building and maintaining a healthy body, so any diet that deprives you of one or the other over an extended period of time can put your health at risk.
Let’s look at protein. Protein is the raw material your body uses to make and maintain healthy muscles, bones, skin and hair.

Without an ongoing supply of this nutrient you would gradually lose muscle mass, become weak and forfeit your ability to fight disease and infection. The average adult needs about 60-80 grams of protein every day.

The best sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. Some vegetables and grains contain protein, though not of the same quality as these primary sources.

Now let’s look at carbohydrates. Your brain, heart and kidneys depend on carbs for energy to function normally. If your diet does not include an ample amount of carbs, your body will take extreme measures to get the energy it needs. It will feed on the carbohydrates stored in muscles and try to chemically break down the proteins you eat until those proteins act like carbohydrates.

Many low-calorie, carbo-hydrate-rich foods are available for those who wish to lose weight or maintain a healthy, balanced diet. As a guideline, adults should get about 40 percent to 60 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates.

Good choices include products such as oatmeal, brown rice and wholegrain bread. Look for the words whole grain among the primary ingredients on bread packages.

When it comes to weight loss, your body cannot tell the difference between calories consumed as carbohydrates and/or proteins. Reducing portion size and increasing your physical activity is the best course of action if you’re hoping to shed kilos.

Experts believe that various promotional strategies such as supersizing and value marketing have confused people about reasonable portion sizes. As a result we are consuming approximately 148 more calories per day than we were two decades ago. These extra calories could amount to a weight gain of almost seven kilograms per year.

Making smart choices, like eating normal-sized meals, will help prevent weight gain. Follow a weight loss plan that encourages a balanced diet, including a variety of food choices, to keep you healthy and energised as you work towards greater health.

For exercise and recipe ideas and suggestions, sign up to the lifestyle fitness newsletter at www.lifestylefit.com.au

info: Paula Rigos is the brand manager at Lifestyle Fitness Australia.

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