30 September 2014

Weight Loss Tips: Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies During Weight Loss

The following is a contributing post by Lisa Dennis. She used to work in healthcare and nutrition, helping people to maintain their fitness and lose weight by adopting a healthy lifestyle. After a short time away to get married and start to raise her family she decided that she'd prefer to freelance, and started a writing career. Now she pens articles on the topics she knows most about and finds she's got more time to help her own family grow and develop healthily.

It is important to get enough important nutrients to boost metabolism and increase exercise performance. Lisa reflects how the nutrients you eat can play a vital role in weight loss. I hope you will find this information helpful. 

When you’ve struggled with your weight for a long time, you’ll do anything to see the pounds come off. This often means dabbling with very low calorie diets or other weight loss plans that extremely limit the choice of foods you can eat. While you’ll likely see results, these regimens are usually hard to stick to and can leave you short of various vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient deficiencies not only take their toll on your energy levels and your appearance, affecting your hair, skin and nails, but they can also leave you feeling low and jeopardize your long-term health.

If your calorie intake is regularly less than 1500kcal you are recommended to take a daily vitamin and mineral pill to top up your levels of vital nutrients. However, reducing your calorie intake needn’t mean that you can’t achieve a nutrient dense diet, it just makes it that bit harder. When you’re aware of which micronutrients you are more likely to fall down on when controlling your weight, you can take steps to include foods that are not only rich in these nutrients, but are compatible with a diet for weight loss too. Here we take a look at 5 vitamins and minerals to focus on and how including rich sources of these may even help you to shed the pounds.

One food group that is commonly limited during weight loss attempts is dairy produce. We’re told that full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are high in calories, so we may do away with dairy foods altogether. However, doing so makes it more difficult to get enough calcium, as milk, yogurt and cheese is our main dietary source. 

Low-fat options are lower in calories, but just as rich in calcium, so they’re a good option to protect the strength of your bones. Keeping dairy on the menu is also a good idea, as numerous studies link higher calcium diets with a lower body weight and weight loss. Other dietary sources of calcium include leafy greens like broccoli and spinach, pulses and canned sardines or salmon.

Vitamin E
As it is a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin E is typically found in foods with a higher fat content, which you might limit as part of a diet for weight loss. 

Examples of foods rich in vitamin E are vegetable oils and spreads, nuts and seeds, all those that you might have cut back on. With a limited intake of vitamin E you can develop dry skin, but the role that vitamin E plays as an antioxidant also leaves you vulnerable to attack by free radicals, which over a longer period could mean a greater chance of heart disease. 

If you’re wondering where to get your vitamin E from, certain fruits and vegetables also provide the vitamin in smaller quantities, such as kiwis, tomatoes, asparagus and green beans. There’s no need to eliminate nuts and seeds though, as research shows that including these can lead to more weight loss than on a low-fat diet, possibly because their fiber and protein content curbs hunger.

Vitamin D
Studies show that low vitamin D levels are more common when you carry extra weight. While researchers don’t yet know for sure whether low levels of vitamin D contribute to weight gain or being overweight depletes your stores of the vitamin, one possibility is that it comes down to diet again. 

Limiting items like fatty fish and eggs, which are naturally rich in the vitamin, along with fortified foods like margarine, milk and breakfast cereals could go some of the way to explaining why our vitamin D levels are lower. The sun is still the best way to get enough of this vitamin, so exposing your lower arms and face to the sun each day, possibly during outdoor exercise, is a good option.

B vitamins
If you’re contemplating a low carb diet, it is worth bearing in mind that carbohydrates are an important source of B vitamins, particularly B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B9 (folate). Studies certainly show that weight loss plans that restrict carbohydrates, such as the Atkins diet and Dukan diet, place you at higher risk of a low B vitamin intake, which can leave you tired and is a particular issue for women planning pregnancy owing to folate’s role in fetal development. It’s possible to minimize B vitamin deficiencies while on a low carb regimen by including yeast extract, green leafy vegetables, lean meats and fish.

Although you might not have heard of this mineral, it is another you can go short of on a low calorie diet. Chromium is found in a range of foods from apples, bananas and wheat germ to beef and liver, but a restrictive diet could easily see you going short if you cut out carbs or shunned meat. 

Chromium plays a role in metabolism, though there isn’t good evidence that it promotes weight loss. However, what is known is that chromium is essential for blood glucose control, so if you have diabetes your blood sugar levels will rise without enough dietary chromium. Eating a wide range of foods shouldn’t see you going short of chromium, so avoid cutting out whole food groups while trying to lose weight.

After reading this, please share in the comments:
Are you lacking in any of these nutrients? Which nutrients might you be missing?

If you'd like to write a contributing post for Her Weight Loss Diary, check out our guidelines here.

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