THE ESSENTIALS OF A HEALTHY DIET
A combination of hard carbs, soft carbs, protein and good fats.
by Kim Baram | December 15, 2015
We all need a certain amount of calories each day for our bodies to function in order for our metabolism to work.
How your body digests nutrients such as proteins, carbs and fats to build muscle, transport nutrients, fuel our organs and muscles, and store energy as fat for later use is all dependent on what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat... and how much activity you do.
Men need to consume a minimum of 1800 calories a day, whereas for women it’s 1500. This is the bare essential. Any less and our metabolism slows right down and our bodies stop functioning as well as they should. Ideally, men and women need to consume 2500 and 2000 calories respectively.
By eating enough calories of the right foods, your metabolism will fire up, which will help you to lose weight and will give your body the energy and fuel it needs to get through the day.
A person that eats clean and healthy, generally:
eliminates refined sugar
eats less processed and concentrated products
cooks healthy meals
packs healthy meals
makes healthy choices when dining out
drinks lots of water
eats 5-6 small meals per day
eliminates or significantly reduces alcoholic beverages
always eats breakfast within an hour of waking up.
So what should your diet consist of, you ask? A combination of hard carbs, soft carbs, protein and good fats.
Hard carbs are essential to a healthy diet and should never be cut out of your diet in order to lose weight. These ensure your brain and body functions at its best so you don't become fatigued and reach for that quick hit of energy instead that's full of sugar and unhealthy fats, which is not so great if you want to lose weight! Excessive carbohydrate consumption can make you fat.
Sources of hard carbs consist of grains and cereals, rice, crackers, oats etc and are what gives you sustainable energy to get you through the day.
Soft carbs are your best friend when it comes to weight loss. Soft carbs are the only food group that will burn fat and they can also satisfy those late night cravings for sweets, as they are packed full of natural sugars. However, when consumed in large quantities, your body can’t process it all and begins to store it as fat. It’s all about moderation.
When you eat carbs, these are converted to glucose (sugar) in your system, which is then used to provide energy for your body to function properly. Quality sources of carbs are made up of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Bad carbs are those such as processed carbs and refined grains etc which are what you should avoid.
Protein is your body’s source of fat and needs to be an important component of every meal. If you cut out the fat in your diet and not eat enough food, your body goes into self-preservation mode and it will use what it needs and store the rest of the fat away for essential use. Just the same as when you exercise, your muscles are broken down and then use protein to rebuild themselves stronger during recovery, which is why your body needs 40% fat intake per day in order to work properly.
Sources of protein include lean meat, chicken, eggs, pork, fish, nuts, beans, legumes, quinoa, soy and most dairy products.
Not all fats are bad and they don't all lead to fat ending up on the body. Diets that cut out all fats can be detrimental to our health, causing our bodies to hold onto whatever it can in order to function properly. In order to be healthy, it is essential that our diet contains certain 'good' fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) because they have amazing nutritional benefits.
Good fats also:
insulate our organs
create a repair process that enables our muscles to grow
act as a repair mechanism for our bodies.
Avocado - most fruits are mainly soft carbs, but avocado is high in healthy fats and contains oleic acid, a 'heart healthy' fatty acid. Avocado is also rich in vitamins K, C and E, and contains plenty of fibre.
Coconut oil - contains a healthy form of saturated fat and is one of the most important good fats to maintain in your diet as this can help control weight, ease digestion, boost metabolism and can reduce sugar cravings.
Nuts - are a great addition to any diet as nuts contain high levels of healthy fats, protein and fibre. The healthy fats in nuts will also help you feel fuller for longer which will help you to control your appetite.
Bad fats are saturated fats and trans-fats that come from refined, and/or processed carbs as they contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. It is important to note that these foods need to be eaten in moderation. Overeating high-fat foods will mean that your body can't process it all, and will, therefore, store it as fat on your body.
Make small changes to your diet that will have a big impact.
Start by swapping out processed refined carbs for more natural foods. Depending on your level of commitment and your ability to change, you might be better off making one small change every other week rather than a complete overhaul.
Plan to eat 5-6 small meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner plus 2-3 snacks. Include protein at every meal. Try to eat every few hours to curb hunger and promote a higher metabolism and watch your portion sizes.
These small changes to your meals can make a big difference to your health and your efforts to lose weight.
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Amore Fitness is a professional mobile personal training fitness business based in Brisbane, Queensland. We offer a premium, personalised health and fitness service with advice, motivation and support to help you lead a fitter, healthier, more active lifestyle.