Amino Acids: The building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids utilized by our bodies, 11 of which we produce ourselves (and these are referred to as nonessential) and 9 which we must find in our diet (these of course being the essential amino acids).
Balanced Deficit Diet (BDD): A diet that subtracts a set amount of calories from a person's daily expenditures. BDDs typically are either of 500 or 1000 calories and therefore would cause weight-losses of roughly 1-2 pounds per week. BDDs are therefore individualized diets and vary in their total amounts of calories.
Body Mass Index: A number determined by dividing our weight in kilograms by our height in metres squared. By definition a BMI greater than 30 defines obesity, greater than 25 but less than 30 defines overweight and greater than 18.5 but less than 25 defines healthy. A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered to be underweight.
Calorie: A calorie is a measurement unit of energy (similar to a watt). The true definition of a calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. There are 3500 calories in 1 pound of fat.
Cholesterol: A key component of our bodies' hormones, cell membranes and bile. Cholesterol is mostly synthesized by our livers however some is absorbed from our diets. When we measure cholesterol we often measure the different components of cholesterol: HDL (High density lipoproteins), LDL (Low density lipoproteins), and TG (Triglycerides) as well as the ratio of TC:HDL (total cholesterol to HDL)
Fat: A building block of our bodies and the foods we eat. Fat comes in many forms with the ones pertinent to weight management being saturated fat, trans saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and unsaturated fat. Fats are made up primarily of fatty acids and there are at least 2 fatty acids that are essential fatty acids as our body cannot produce them. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
HDL: High density lipoproteins, commonly referred to as "good" cholesterol are involved in transporting cholesterol from our tissues to our liver where it is excreted in bile. High levels of HDL appear to offer protection against heart disease. HDL levels increase with exercise.
Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated: Hydrogenation is the term given to the process where unsaturated (and hence liquid) fats are turned into solid fats (e.g. Crisco). Hydrogenation often results in the production of trans fats which increase the risk of heart disease, strokes and other diseases of the arteries. There is a growing body of evidence that trans fats are more of a medical risk than saturated fats.
LDL: Low density lipoproteins, commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol are involved in transporting cholesterol from the liver to the rest of our bodies. High levels of LDL can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, strokes and other diseases of our arteries.
Lipids: The term lipid is a generalized term and it refers to any type of fat in our bodies including fat, cholesterol and phospholipids (which make up our cells' membranes). Roughly 95% of the lipids in foods and our bodies are triglycerides.
Low-Calorie Diet (LCD): By definition a low calorie diet is one that contains between 800-1200 calories. Diets less than 1200 calories must incorporate vitamins as diet alone might not meet the body's nutrient needs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid: A form of unsaturated fat involved in the inflammatory pathways of the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish oils and some vegetable oils and there is a growing body of evidence that they are beneficial in lowering cholesterol and potentially in preventing cancer and treating depression.
Polyunsaturated Fats: Unsaturated fat with two double bonds between the fat's molecules. Liquid at room temperature, these fats are found in certain vegetable and seed oils. These fats have been shown to lower both LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol, and diets have in these fats show an association with an increased risk of cancer.
Protein: A building block of our bodies and the foods we eat. Proteins contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and often sulphur but essentially are made up of amino acids. Proteins are involved in muscle contraction, oxygen transport and many other cellular processes. Protein has 4 calories per gram.
Resting Metabolic Rate: A person's resting metabolic rate (RMR) refers to the number of calories that person's body requires on a daily basis to ensure that they have sufficient energy to power all of their body's processes. If you consume as many calories as your body requires your weight will remain unchanged. RMR is primarily determined by the amount of muscles your body has, therefore increasing your body's musculature through exercise will increase your resting metabolic rate and cause you to burn more daily calories. If you consume less calories than your metabolism requires then your body will utilize its energy stores to fuel its processes and in turn you will lose weight. People who diet without exercising will find that their RMR slows down as the body utilizes existing muscles to fuel its processes. Those people will find themselves struggling to maintain their weight-losses as now their bodies require fewer calories to fuel their processes and excess calories are stored as fat.
Saturated Fat: Saturation refers to the number of bonds between the fat's molecules. Saturated fats have fewer double bonds. Saturated fats are found in animal fats and tropical oils and unlike what you might think, recent evidence has suggested that these fats aren't nearly as bad for us as we once thought. These fats are solid at room temperature (e.g. lard)
Trans Saturated Fats: Also known as trans fats, these are artificially formed during the process of hydrogenation. Trans fats are found in products such as stick margarine and are thought to be more of a risk for the development of heart disease, strokes and other diseases of the arteries than saturated fats.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are molecules made up of three fatty acids. Triglycerides are made by the body from carbohydrates and are stored in our fat cells (adipose tissue). Alcohol consumption increases the body's triglyceride levels, while exercise and diets lower in carbohydrates reduce it. High levels of triglycerides are linked to heart disease, stroke and other diseases of the arteries.
Unsaturated Fat: Unsaturated fats come in two forms: Monounsaturated fats with one double bond between the fat's molecules or polyunsaturated fats with multiple double bonds between the fat's molecules. These fats are liquid at room temperature and included in their numbers are the omega-fatty acids.
Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD): By definition a very low calorie diet is one that contains less than 800 calories. People on a very low calorie diet must be medically monitored as it can lead to life-threatening electrolyte changes. Diets less than 800 calories must incorporate vitamins as diet alone will not meet the body's nutrient needs.