By The Diabetic Friend Editorial Staff
June 25, 2011

A healthy weight-loss program should have a woman eating no less than 1,200 calories a day. If she weighs her ideal body weight of 120 pounds (54.5 kg) at 5 feet 4 inches and exercises moderately, her normal daily caloric need is approximately 1,800 calories.

Diet for weight loss.  For weight loss, aim to cut total caloric intake by 300 to 500 calories a day. To calculate how many calories you’re currently taking in, multiply your present weight by 14. From this daily caloric intake figure, subtract 300 to 500 calories. This small reduction in daily caloric intake will equate to about a 1 – to 2 — pound (0.45 to 0.9 kg) weight loss per week.

The food pyramid has a range of servings in each food group. The lower end of the range equates to a 1,600-calorie diet, which is required by most sedentary women and older adults. The high end equals 2,800 calories, required by teenage boys, moderately active men, and very active women. (Highly active men will need more calories.) The middle-of-the-road number of servings will produce a 2,200-calorie diet that meets the requirements of most children, moderately active women, and most sedentary men.

Guidelines for a healthy diet look not only at food groups, but also at percentages of macronutrients ingested. Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates, and fat. In general, approximately 15% of the total daily caloric consumption should come from proteins, 50% to 60% from carbohydrates, and 25% to 35 % from fats.

Experts also recommend that we consume 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily. Unprocessed, enriched whole grain foods (including cereals, breads, and breakfast bars) may have 5 or more grams of fiber per serving; processed grain foods have as little as I gram of fiber per serving. A 6-year study that followed over 35,000 women found that a high intake of whole grains, cereal fiber, and dietary magnesium played a significant role in preventing diabetes. Another study compared the role of whole grain versus refined grain products and found that the whole grain products may decrease the risk of diabetes in women.

Water-soluble fiber (heicelluloses, mucilages, gums, and pectins, for example) is the most beneficial in lowering blood sugar. It slows the absorption of carbohydrates, causing a slow rise in blood sugar, rather than a rapid rise in blood sugar as is seen with simple carbohydrates such as fruit juices. Water-soluble fiber can be found in legumes, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium, pears, apples, and most vegetables.

Sources:  The American Diabetes Association