5 Essential Ingredients for a Healthy Diet
Do all the parts of a healthy diet seem a bit complicated? Are you scratching your head when it comes to figuring out proper amounts of nutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat? You are not alone.
Healthy eating sounds simple enough but starting is another story – great in theory, but tough to practice. Below is a simple, yet succinct breakdown of key considerations to include when aiming to start a healthy diet.
Plenty of protein
As a key ingredient in building muscle and helping churn your metabolism to optimal levels, protein is absolutely vital to a healthy diet. In addition to helping repair muscle tissue, protein also plays a role in every tissue of the body and helps sustain overall health and immunity. It also helps with satiety (feeling full), which will be a great ally during periods of dieting. A general rule of thumb is to take in 1 gram per pound of bodyweight or, if your goal is to lose weight, 1 gram per pound of goal bodyweight. So, if you weight 220 lbs. and your goal is 200 lbs., then you will have an intake goal of 200 grams of protein.
Carbohydrate bashing has taken over the diet and fitness industry like a firestorm. It wasn’t too long ago that fat underwent the same fate. Here’s the timeless truth – carbs give you energy and they are needed for the average individual; period! Carbs are also protein sparing, meaning they leave protein to do what it does best – build muscle tissue and help recovery instead of being burned as fuel. Additionally, carbs are full of vitamins and minerals not found in abundance in other foods. Of course, the right kinds are important too. Be sure you are eating complex varieties such as potatoes, rice, oatmeal, 100% whole wheat breads and whole grain pasta. Go with 2 grams per pound of bodyweight or 2 grams per pound of goal bodyweight.
Include healthy fats
Fats were once demonized among the public as the bane of our health. Now, it seems, the tide has turned and we are recognizing fat’s incredible benefits. We are even starting to see the benefits of the saturated kind. Dietary fat provides satiety, cellular health, as well as being an instrumental key for hormone regulation. However, unlike proteins and carbs (at 4 calories per gram), fat contains more than double the calories (9 calories per gram). Therefore, just a little goes a long way. Shoot for .7 to .8 grams per pound of bodyweight or around 20% of your total daily intake.
What is a talk about health without mentioning the most important, but often most overlooked and under appreciated nutrient of all – water? The importance of drinking ample amounts of water cannot be stressed enough. Having a hand in just about every, single process the body undergoes, water is literally the essence of life. Not drinking enough every day will stall and sometimes drive back your progress and discourage you from pressing on. To start, try taking in half of your body weight in ounces. So, for the 200 pound individual that would be 100 ounces.
Balance is key
Of course, all of the nutrients mentioned above are of great importance, but you can’t have a healthy diet without the right kind of balance and ideal nutrition. Don’t swing to extremes too much when it comes to dieting and structuring an eating plan. Having a steadfast mentality toward a slow and deliberate change is the only way to eventually see substantial and solid results to a healthier you. Quick fixes only mean quick steps back over the long run. Change only one thing at a time so you know exactly what works and what doesn’t. Patience and consistency are your allies when it comes to finally succeeding and achieving your goals.
James Demmy is a fitness buff as well as a strength and conditioning specialist. He is a content contributor for Muscle & Strength.com.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about a medical condition, or before beginning any new diet or exercise regimen.
Image credit: Blair_25
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