Healthy weight loss comes from limiting calories and exercising regularly. But if you’re struggling to lose weight, you may be tempted to try a fad diet that requires you to give up certain food groups so that you restrict calories even more. However, these types of diets, such as eating only vegetables to lose weight, can cause a variety of nutrition and health problems.
Benefits for Weight Loss
Vegetables are low in calories and fat, which makes them no-brainer choices when you’re trying to lose weight. They’re also loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as antioxidants — all of which improve functions that play a role in weight loss, such as metabolism and cardiovascular activity. These nutrients also protect you against disease, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, both of which are linked to obesity. Furthermore, vegetables are rich in fiber, which suppresses appetite and is filling without providing extra calories.
In general, women should consume about 2½ cups of vegetables daily, according to the American Dietetic Association. However, vegetables are so low in calories and rich in nutrients that you can safely eat them in higher quantities. Be aware that suddenly boosting your intake of vegetables and relying on them alone in your diet can cause side effects such as gas, bloating and cramping — as well as constipation if you do not drink enough fluids.
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Another complication of eating only vegetables every day to lose weight is deficiency in certain nutrients. For instance, vegetables are poor sources of fat, a nutrient that your body needs for vital functions such as making cell membranes, regulating temperature, producing energy and reducing inflammation. Non-starchy vegetables, such as the green leafy types, are also not good sources of digestible carbohydrates, which your body uses as its primary source of energy and for other functions. Also, the only complete non-meat source of protein is soy; you’d need to eat a wide variety of vegetables to get all the amino acids your body needs. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to health problems such as dehydration, anemia, lethargy, muscle loss and poor bone health.
The Bottom Line
In essence, eliminating any food group from your diet can be hazardous to your health. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s better to reduce your overall daily calorie intake and make sure you get enough of the three essential macronutrients — carbohydrate, fat and protein. For weight loss, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends that adults ages 19 and over consume between 45 and 65 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, between 20 and 35 percent from fat and between 10 and 35 percent from protein. While vegetables should be part of your diet to lose weight, other foods such as fish, fruit, lean meat and poultry, low-fat dairy, low-fat soy foods, nuts and seeds will provide you with the additional nutrients you need when losing weight.