We all know what a balanced diet is as we’ve been taught as kids to eat our proteins, fruits, veggies, and carbohydrates. We’ve been told why eating all these food groups and more is essential to our body functioning right and us being strong. We know we should get the right proportion of healthy fats, dietary fibers, minerals, vitamins, and water. But do you know why you should really eat food from different classes? And do you know which food from each class of the balanced meal plan you should eat to keep your weight down and in a health zone? Which carbohydrate is best for you? Rice or Bread? Which veggies are best? Carrots or Broccoli? Which protein will help you lose weight? Fish or chicken? Which oils should you cook with? Olive or Canola? We might know to eat a food from each group in the balanced meal equation but if we know the best foods to eat, our weight loss journey will be some much better. We will talk about the best food to eat in each category of food so you know how to plan your meals better and healthier.
Proteins provide essential amino acids to us after they are eaten and broken down. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of our cells and bodies. Amino acids help us build our muscles which in turn helps us burn fat. So, what sort of protein is the best to eat when you’re trying to balance your meals? Expert suggest that proteins like fish and chicken are healthier than beef and pork. Not that you can’t eat a T-bone steak or some pork chops, by all means, do. But fish and chicken are leaner and have less calories while having more nutrients for your body. If you have certain medical conditions like high cholesterol, beef can be a culprit in raising your cholesterol even further while fish can help lower your cholesterol due to its good and essential oils, as well as omega-3 that it contains. Omega-3 is great for our body and helps us keep our weight under control. Shrimp and other sea foods are also great protein but they can sometimes be fattening so eat them in moderation.
While proteins build the cells and muscles, carbohydrates power the body. The basic building blocks of carbohydrates are sugars regardless of what food you start with – bread, rice, pasta – they all end up in some sort of sugar form that is essential for providing energy to power your body. You hear marathon runners and other high intensity athletes talk about carb-loading prior to a race or a competition. Carb loading is when you eat enough carbs so your body stores it and releases it as energy when you’re engaged in a high-intensity activity. So, we get it that carbohydrates are important for our bodies to function and thrive, but what sort of carbohydrates are the best and how often should we eat them? To start with, when you eat too much carbohydrates, they end up being stored as fat which can be burned up when you need them, or just stay on to keep you above your ideal weight. So, the rule of thumb is to eat carbohydrates but in moderation. And what sort of carbohydrates should you be eating? We say chose brown rice over white rice. Chose rice over baked products like cakes and bread. Chose naturally occurring carbohydrate food over factory-processed foods like pasta. Once you begin to make the right choices for food, you learn to eat the carbohydrate that matter for your body.
Most people think of fat in the wrong way – something that piles on to their body to make them uncomfortable and above their ideal goals. But this is not the right way to think of fat as there are good fats out there that you should be eating or using in your food like olive oil. There are also bad fats like trans and saturated fats which you should avoid. These tend to increase our risks for heart attack and other heart issues as they make our bad cholesterol high and make our good cholesterol low. These bad fats are found in things like pastries and most junk food. If you do have to eat saturated fats, look for those that have a lower level of saturation like milk, cheese, and leaner meat. The other types of fat are known as mono and poly unsaturated fats. So unsaturated fat are the good fats as they reduce our bad cholesterol and increase our good cholesterol. This include things like margarine and olive oil. Fats, also known as lipids are essential building blocks for our cells which means that we need fat to be alive. Some parts of our cells are built from lipids. A couple other things that make our bodies function right are also built from lipids so we certainly need fats to survive. So, if you need to eat fat, go for the healthy one and swap the butter with olive oil or toss out the potato chips and go for nuts. These other healthy foods will give you the good fats your body needs to function.
- Minerals and Vitamins
These are also known as micronutrients and they are important to the body as protein, fat, carbohydrate and water is. Unlike carbohydrate, protein and fat which can provide energy for the body to function and thrive, minerals and vitamins do not do that. Instead they are important in making sure that our bodies have what they need to fully function. Those little things that matter. For instance, micronutrients include things like antioxidants that keep our cells healthy and protect us from cancer by eliminating toxins that can cause cancer in our bodies. They are so important that they are not only considered to be micronutrients but also considered as essential nutrients, meaning you can’t get too far without them and you need them to help your body perform so many hundreds of roles. When you eat a balanced diet, these minerals and vitamins are extracted from the food and end up in your bodies or become part of the component to make more minerals and vitamins in the body. The red blood cells carry these mineral and vitamins around the blood to parts that need them to function. The easiest and healthiest ways to get the right minerals and vitamins are by eating food rich in them including green leafy veggies, other veggies milk and diary, eggs, carrots, grains, nuts, fruits and so many other foods. You should also remember that some good vitamins like Vit D, come from sunlight so don’t forget to try to get at least 10 mins of sunlight per day when possible.
- Water and Fiber
We have water and fiber in the same class as they complement each other. Both are very important in getting a balanced meal and if they are not part of our balanced meal approach then things will not work out the right way. Water is very essential to the human body as 60% -70% of the body is made up of water. That means you need water to be alive. Water is actually more important than food when it comes to survival since if you are dehydrated, your cells can shrivel and die off. An adult should drink at least 8 glasses of 8 oz. water daily to maintain the body homeostasis. Homeostasis is the internal functioning of the body. Once you drink the right amount of water daily, your body will get the water it needs to help transport other essential things around the body. Water has so many functions including regulating our body temperature, protecting our organs, and moving oxygen in-and-out of our cells. Healthy water is simply that – plain water. And you can flavor the water with fruit if you want something different. Fiber is essential as it helps to maintain our bowel health, helps control our sugar levels and helps to keep thing moving in the body. Fiber also keeps us fuller longer and so encourages weight loss. So, what foods have the best fibers? Whole grains, fruits, nuts, beans, and some other foods are high in healthy protein and should be on your diet.
Protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber are very important classes of food and our body needs some of each to function. Knowing the good food sources that will give us a healthy balanced diet is ideal to weight loss and also our overall health.