Good health requires a good diet. A good diet is seldom the latest fad diet. Fortunately, we can turn to solid nutritional science or historical nutritional health correlation studies to help us find the right path. Rather than waste your time studying fads, spend some time acquainting yourself with known facts.
Simply following the four food groups identified by the dairy association will put you ahead of the majority of people, but without understanding proper portions and proportions, you’ll come up short even there. For example, a large man needs about 2500 calories per day, while a large woman needs only about 1700 calories per day. Regardless of total calorie requirements, it is also important that the majority of those calories come from complex carbohydrates and that protein consumption is somewhat limited.
Related: What Are The Healthy Food Groups?
Carbohydrates are what provide you with the energy you need to go. In the form of simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, this energy is rapidly injected into the bloodstream. More complex carbohydrates require extra effort by the body to be broken down into a usable form. This is a good thing, as this slowed process stabilizes the sugar levels in your bloodstream.
Fats are not that different than carbohydrates. They act as storage mediums for energy, but are easily broken down into energy by the body. Proteins, on the other hand, are very difficult for the body to break down and use for energy, creating waste in the process. However, protein is an important building block of the human body, most notably the muscles.
Meats are often recommended for their high energy and protein contents. However, the fats in meats are not the healthy types of fats and there have been several studies showing disconcerting processes that take place in the body relating to meat protein consumption. You get plenty of protein in vegetables and even fruits. Legumes and nuts are also excellent protein sources.
Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of complex carbohydrates. Since fruits and vegetables also contain plenty of fiber, blood sugar levels are even further regulated. As you already know, fruits and vegetables are excellent vitamin sources.
Related: Diet Guidelines for a Healthy Living
An old fashioned food pyramid meal that is made up of one serving of beans or nuts, a couple servings of of pasta, whole wheat bread, or brown rice, and several servings of fruits and vegetables should supply you with all of the nutrition you need. There is no need to include calorie packed foods such as common packaged snack foods, cheese, or butter, but you may want to reward yourself with these every now and then if you’re maintaining a healthy weight and eating healthy meals.
It is also important to remember that food sources that are high in fiber tend to have a higher mass to calorie ratio. Also, fats contain more than twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins. So meat, which has no fiber and may contain a lot of fat, can carry a hefty load of calories per serving.
Related: The Truth About Calories
Leafy vegetables, on the other hand, are made up primarily of fiber and complex carbohydrates, so there are very few calories in a serving of leafy vegetables. Fruits tend to have more carbohydrates, but are still mainly fiber and can provide plenty of bulk with few calories per serving. Nuts and whole grains contain quite a bit of calories per serving, but also quite a bit of fiber and nutrients.
Snack foods tend to violate every rule of health. They typically lack nutritional content and fiber, yet contain densely packed sugars and fats. They may be safe to eat now and then, but not regularly, especially if weight loss is a goal. Take the time to calculate your eating habits to achieve your weight loss goals.