Nutrition and Weight

When you consume basically the same number of calories as you expend, your body weight remains relatively stable. If you want to gain or lose weight, you must manipulate this balance between calories consumed and calories expended.

Gaining Weight
Some people have a difficult time gaining weight. This can be a result of a higher-than-normal basal metabolic rate or a high physical activity level. When weight gain is a goal, the focus is on gaining muscle and not fat weight. To do this is a healthy way, you should consume more frequent meals with healthy snacks. For example, in addition to three main meals, consume three snacks per day. Consuming about 300 to 500 calories per day more would result in about a 1-pound (0.45 kg) per week weight gain. Healthy snacks include yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal with milk, fruit smoothies, and turkey sandwiches. It is also important to continue to exercise to ensure that the weight gain is mostly muscle. In particular, resistance training will be an important factor for building muscle. Although it will take some time, the slower the weight gain, the more likely it will be to be muscle gain and not fat or water gain.

Losing Weight

Weight loss is a more common goal than gaining weight. Losing weight involves a negative energy balance. This can be achieved by increasing exercise and decreasing caloric intake.

Your should start focusing on water balance before you are active by consuming fluids in advance of your exercise bout. While you are exercising, your goal should be to avoid excessive dehydration. For shorter workouts (less than an hour), consuming water will be fine. For longer workouts, consider using a sport performance beverage that provides fluids as well as some carbohydrate and sodium. Ideally, by consuming adequate fluids, you can avoid dehydration. One simple way to check your hydration status is to look at the color of your urine; it should be a clear, pale yellow color. Another way to track fluid lost during exercise its to check your body weight before and after your workout. For each pound lost during exercise, you should consume about 16 to 20 ounces (475 to 600 ml) of water or sport performance beverage.

Understanding the importance of macronutrients, micronutrients, water, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a framework for improving your diet. Knowing how to read labels and how to calculate your energy needs will help you make healthy choices regarding your diet. A healthy diet should include a wide variety of foods that you enjoy. Following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a good start to working toward consuming a healthy, varied, and nutrient-dense diet that will help prevent disease and give you more energy each day.

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