To live we need to eat and drink, if you’re planning to lose weight you may be tempted to cut food out and just drink. Maybe a friend told you about a diet that he knows will work if you just ‘’trust the process.’’ In reality, you’ll find it very hard not to lose weight on any of the diets out there because the deciding factor comes down to how much energy you use up. The less food you eat and the more active you do the more weight you’ll lose. Another important thing to remember is that reducing your food shouldn’t mean totally avoiding food groups (Carbs, Protein & Fats) since they all have a role to play in our bodies. So here are the essentials of a good, nutritionally balanced diet.
Carbohydrates are the keys to keeping your energy levels up. They supply glucose (which Carbohydrates are broken down into) to the central nervous system and brain. If the brain doesn’t get its supply it will not function properly leading to further issues.
The Carbs you eat should be those that suit your body in order to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels, prevent constipation and digestive problems.
Try: Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, Apples, Kidney Beans, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Pure Oats.
DRVs – 50 – 55%
‘’Fat makes you fat, don’t eat that you’ll get fat!’’ Old talk you need to throw to the wall. Fat and fatty acids are essential to the body functioning as it should. They provide energy (9kcals per gram as opposed to 4kcals/g for carbs and protein), can be stored in the body ready to be used as energy which is ideal if you get lost in a desert (you’ll still need water – one less problem), provide insulation on those cold morning runs or when the boilers broke, they transport vitamins and much more.
Try: Organic Milk, Cheese and Eggs, Nuts and Seeds, Fish and Lean Meats.
DRVs – 30 – 35%
Don’t believe the whispers telling you all you need to do is drink a protein shake and you’ll turn incredible hulk real fast. Protein is needed to increase muscle size but you also need the right conditions (ie. balanced diet and exercise that causes the micro muscle tears for regrowth). Proteins do much more than building muscle; they help form our skin and hair, they carry oxygen around the body via our blood, regulate blood sugar levels and more.
Protein can be found in animals as well as plants animals eat so the choice is yours as to where you get the main of your protein from. However, plant proteins are known as ‘’Incomplete’’ because the amino acid content in an animal is ‘complete’ whereas plants do not contain all the essential amino acids or contain low amounts of what our bodies need for making protein.
Try: Red Meat, Chicken, Fish, Dairy and Eggs – Animal Proteins
Try: Fruits and Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Pulses – Plant Proteins
DRVs – 10 – 15%
Vitamins & Minerals
These are micronutrients because the body needs them in small amounts as opposed to macronutrients (Crabs, Protein and Fats) needed in larger amounts. To go through all of the various needs the body has for these micronutrients would take a proper sit down so here are a few to note:
Building red blood cells, growing and maintaining our nails, skin and hair, maintaining our teeth and ensuring our nerve responses are working, among many other functions.
Vitamins occur naturally in most foods and many chemical reactions that take place in the body are due to them being in place. They don’t hold an energy value but without them, energy cannot be released for the body to use.
Minerals can be found in plants and animals and they hold an important role as co-enzymes (molecules needed for a specific enzyme to function properly), they combine with other chemicals (eg. calcium phosphate found in our bones) and they can also be single elements like sodium within our bodily fluids.
Try: Milk, Yoghurt, Spinach, Broccoli, Beef, Fish, Eggs, Banana, Kale, Carrots, Sweet Potato and Asparagus.
A plant-based carbohydrate that cannot be digested in the small intestine but reaches the large intestine. Fibre helps the digestive system stay strong and healthy, preventing constipation and research points to a fibre rich diet helping to increase good gut bacteria.
Try: Wholegrain cereal, wholewheat pasta, Peas, Nuts and Seeds, Fruit and Berries, Broccoli, Carrots, Potatoes with skin.
So, you’re on your fitness journey, remember to eat with a balance. I hope you’ve come to realise just how important the food you eat is to your body and you’ll take your next meal as sustenance that will help you grow and recharge as well as feed your hunger pain.
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Department of Health Report 41