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How much food in a day is too much? Am I overweight? What is my body fat content? Am I better off with proteins (Atkins diet) than carbs (Mediterranean diet)? No easy answers to these questions for many of us. Even if you feel good and you are happy with the way you look you should still consider the long term impact of an improper caloric balance or carbs vs. protein balance to your health. Read on to find out ...
The nutritional and medical experts defined few indicators that assess the physical body from an energetic perspective. Further on, the experts correlated these indicators with certain health risk factors.
For laymen though these indicators are translated in real life information as: food daily needs, body weight and body fat assessment or even decisions like pasta or stake for dinner. So here we go:
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (calories) spent by the body while at rest in a neutrally temperate environment, in the post-absorptive state (inactive digestive system, which equates in twelve hours of fasting). This is the energy required only for the normal functioning of the vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, brain and the nervous system, liver, kidneys, sex organs, muscles and skin. BMR is calculated in relation with the body weight, height and age.
So BMR defines the minimum energy level the body needs for normal functioning. This is important for calculating the daily calorie intake. To do that, the level of physical activity must be accounted for.
Body mass index (BMI) indicator provides more accurate information than simple weight in defining if somebody has a normal weight, is underweight, overweight, or obese. There is strong statistical correlation between the BMI indicator and certain health risks. BMI is also closely associated with the amount of body fat.
Body fat indicator is calculated in relation with body weight, waist, hip, wrist and forearm measurements. It is also important to determine where the fat is located on the body as the health risks associated with fat deposits around the waist are a lot higher. The waist to hip ratio provides this information.
All these indicators provide an insight to the nutritional needs we have. For example, we can size our portions according to our need to loose or to gain weight. We can also assess some of the food related health risks from a quantitative perspective.
The nutritional indicators should be regarded as a starting point. The human body is more complex than a simple energy exchange machine of calories in, calories burned type. There are subtle mind related factors for example that are not accounted for in the above indicators. And the mind regulates at the subconscious level the metabolism including the calories burned.
It is also important to emphasize that these indicators are statistical in nature therefore may not be representative for certain individuals. Think of them as a golden mean that provides a ballpark figure of your nutritional state.
So you determined if you are or not overweight what is your body fat and how many calories you need every day.
What’s next? When considering that you can get the calories either from proteins, fats or carbohydrates the next logical step is to determine how much of each you need. Now things get complicated. Science is over and subjective opinions (anecdotal testimonials) take over. So many diet programs out there each with their own happy followers. (think Atkins Diet, Hamptons Diet, Zone diet, Mediterranean diet to name just a few).
It is only normal that not every type of food is good for everybody and this is where the metabolic typing self test comes into the picture. This test is the closest to the science you can get when it's about diet. Developed by a doctor (Dr. W.D. Kelley) and further refined by many disciples is the most accepted tool in defining the optimum carbohydrate to protein ration in the food intake. The output of this test is specific carbs vs. protein percentage ratios for food intake.