The Importance of Fruits & Vegetables for Weight Loss
I'm sure you already know about the importance of consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables but there are a few pointers worth noting especially when it comes to weight loss...
There are many good studies that show significant weight loss when the participants are specifically advised to increase their fruit and vegetable intake.
These studies ranged from 6 months to 1 year. Also, many studies show that consuming fruit and vegetables increases satiety and reduces hunger.
This is attributed to the high water and fibre content. Long-term intervention studies suggest an important role for fruits and vegetables for weight management too.
Aside from weight loss, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that
2.7 million of deaths worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Moreover, insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables is estimated to cause around 19% of gastrointestinal cancer, about 31% of ischaemic heart disease and 11% of stroke deaths globally. So consuming more fruits and veg could help prevent all these major diseases.
WHO recommends that we eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day (or a minimum of 400g worth) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
The report states that there is convincing evidence that fruits and vegetables decrease the risk for obesity, and evidence that they probably decrease the risk of diabetes. Worth noting that the report specifies that the
tubers, e.g. potatoes, cassava, should NOT be included in fruits and vegetables.
Now, the bar has been set fairly low here; this is the minimum amount of fruits and vegetables required by the average person to avoid deficiency diseases such as Scurvy and reduce the risk of developing one or more of those chronic diseases listed above, not the *optimal* amount of fruits and vegetables to achieve optimal health, optimal performance and optimal body composition. Now I'm not sure about you, but I'd like to be more than just a hair above Scurvy or any other chronic disease for that matter!
10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day would be optimal.
When it comes to fruit and vegetable intake, more is definitely better. These 10 portions should ideally be biased towards more vegetables rather than fruit, as fruit contains higher levels of sugar (remember my "4 Foods to Avoid" document?).
An 80:20 split veg:fruit would be ideal, so 8 portions of veg and 2 portions of fruit a day, or around 2 portions of veg and 1 portion of fruit with each meal if eating 3 meals a day. As a general rule...
one portion would be about half a cup full.
There are several reasons why we need to eat so much fruit and veg, the first one is that our produce these days simply doesn't contain the same levels of nutrients that it once did, over 50 years ago. This is due to over farming in our modern day culture leading to soil mineral depletion; you'd have to eat about TEN tomatoes today to get the same nutrients as what ONE tomato provided 50 years ago!
Another reason is that once a piece of fruit or veg has been picked it immediately starts to lose its nutrient content. For instance, vitamin C is a very fragile vitamin and it starts to diminish very quickly once the produce has been picked, simply being exposed to daylight causes vit C to diminish. Unless you grow your own or buy fresh from a local organic farm or market you don't know how long that piece of fruit or veg has been laying around for and under what conditions; wholesaler storage, transportation, retailer storage, then how long it hangs around in your fridge all the while losing its vitamin content.
Yet another reason for a high fruit and vegetable intake is if you are exercising for more than 20 mins, 3 x per week (which we know you are) then your body's requirements for nutrients is significantly increased above that of a sedentary person.
Energy turnover in skeletal muscle is increased up to 100 times in someone that takes part in regular exercise.
This increase in energy turnover results in a significant increase in the need for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The more intense your workouts, the more nutrients your body needs.
Since you're a part of this programme, your workouts are high intensity so your micronutrient requirements will be significantly higher than those of an average person's.
Also, it is the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that allow transportation of the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) for energy production. Therefore, ensuring that your body has all the building blocks it needs in terms of vitamins and minerals will allow for improved energy levels throughout the day;
fat will be metabolised and broken down more efficiently
and you'll have more energy for your workouts and your muscles will recover quicker.
Fruits and vegetables are quite high in fibre which not only helps to keep you fuller for longer but helps you maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Fibre can help lower your bad cholesterol levels by binding to it in your gastrointestinal tract aiding in its safe elimination. This is how a high fruit and vegetable intake can reduce your risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer,
the fibre acts like a pipe cleaner!
There are many more benefits to making sure that your body has all the micronutrients and antioxidants it needs such as protection against free radical damage (anti-ageing), improving the quality of your hair, skin and nails, mental clarity and improving sleep quality.
So the benefits of 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day far out way the perceived inconvenience. You can prepare your vegetables however you want to; boil them, roast them, etc, but for the most part go for steaming as this is the best way to preserve the delicate vitamins and phytonutrients which are largely depleted when boiling or roasting.
If you find that you are struggling to fit in 10 portions of fruits and vegetables each and every day then a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement that's made from real fruit and vegetable concentrates (not the cheap lab created synthetic A-Z multivitamins you see lining the Supermarket shelves!), can be taken every day for nutritional insurance.
If you'd like to know more about the brand that I trust and use myself which is made from organic fruits and vegetables then just drop me a private message and I'd be happy to share the details with you.