Weight Loss Program

A software tool that helps you control your weight.

Weight Loss Glossary, E-M

Energy Balance

Also called caloric balance. The difference between the number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn. If the numbers are equal, your weight will not change. If the number of calories you consume is larger than the number you burn, you will gain weight. If the number you burn is larger than the number you consume, you will lose weight. In Weight Loss Program, energy balance is called Your Balance.


A protein produced by certain cells, which speeds up chemical reactions in the body.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

Polyunsaturated fatty acid that cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained from food. EFAs are necessary for the normal functioning of the reproductive and endocrine systems. The best dietary sources are vegetable oils such as safflower, soy and corn oils.


One of the three nutrients that supply calories to the body. Fat is a soft greasy substance. Total fat is the sum of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Excess intake of fat, especially saturated fat, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Fatty Acid

The basic molecule of a fat cell. Each type of fat is a mixture of different fatty acids. For further information, see Saturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Essential Fatty Acids, Non-essential Fatty Acids, Trans Fatty Acids.


A type of carbohydrates, the part of fruits and vegetables that cannot be digested. There are two types of fiber in food – soluble and insoluble. Fiber helps move food waste out of the body more quickly. It is also thought to lower cholesterol levels and help control blood glucose levels. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans and peas, nuts, seeds, breads and cereals.


A compound of fluorine. Helps in formation of bones and teeth and prevents teeth decay. Fluoride may be present in drinking water or applied to the teeth. The sources are seafood, fluoridated water and toothpastes.

Folic Acid

See Vitamin B9.


A type of sugar found in many fruits and vegetables and in honey. Fructose in the body may be converted into glucose by the liver and intestines. Fructose is the sweetest of sugars.


A type of sugar found in fruits and honey that is a major energy source for all cellular and bodily functions, especially the brain. Glucose is obtained through the breakdown of food in the digestive system. It is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. The natural form (D-glucose) is also referred to as dextrose, especially in the food industry.


A protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen to the tissues of the body and gives blood its red color.


A chemical substance within the body that is secreted by one type of cells and affects another type of cells. Hormones are released directly into the bloodstream, other body fluids, or adjacent tissues. Hormonal actions can include stimulation or inhibition of growth, activation of the immune system, regulation of metabolism, and the production and release of other hormones.


Chemical symbol I. A mineral required by the thyroid gland for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate the metabolism and set the basal metabolic rate. It is found in saltwater fish, shellfish, seaweed and iodized salt.


Chemical symbol Fe. A mineral essential for the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin. The sources of iron in food are red meat, fish and shellfish, poultry, lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables, and dried fruits.


A type of sugar found in dairy products.


Essential nutrients needed by the human body in large quantities for normal functioning. They include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water. Some minerals, such as calcium, are also regarded as macronutrients.


Chemical symbol Mg. A mineral used by the body for maintaining muscles, nerves, and bones, making new cells and protein, activating B vitamins, and blood clotting. It is found in whole grains, nuts, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables.


Chemical symbol Mn. A trace mineral that is required to manufacture enzymes necessary for the metabolism of proteins and fat. It also supports the immune system, blood sugar balance, and is involved in reproduction and bone growth. Sources include leafy vegetables, bananas, beans, blueberries, bran, chocolate, peas, and whole grains.


The physical and chemical processes within a body by which protein, fats, carbohydrates and water from food are converted to energy and the building material for cells and tissues.


Essential nutrients needed by the human body in small quantities. They include vitamins and most minerals.


Inorganic elements that come from the soil and water. They are necessary for normal body function. Minerals are divided into two groups. Major minerals (calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur) are found in the body in amounts larger than 5 grams. Trace minerals (chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc) are found in the body in amounts less than 5 grams.


Chemical symbol Mo. A trace mineral required to activate certain enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Can be found in organ meat, cereals, and legumes.

Monounsaturated Fat

An oily type of fat found in large amounts in plant foods, including olive, peanut and canola oil. Eating foods that contain monounsaturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. However, it has the same number of calories as other types of fat, and so it may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.


A protein that receives oxygen from hemoglobin and stores it in the muscle cells.

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