We often pledge with absolute sincerity that we will stick to a well-balanced and healthy diet, but those pledges turn out to be as empty as a politician’s promises as soon as we scent junk food or chocolates in our vicinity.
Sticking to a balanced diet is hard since there are plenty of excuses: we want instant results, food that tickles our taste buds, the same plain ole vegetable everyday eventually makes us yawn in technicolor, a healthy diet comes at skyscraping prices, and so many never-ending dilemmas.
But let’s give you some very convincing reasons why you need to stick to a balanced diet:
Why do we need a balanced diet?
A balanced diet means consuming ideal levels of calories for your body. An average calorie intake per day for women is around 2,000. For men, it’s 2,500 calories. Calorie requirements vary for each individual, depending on their age, sex, and physical activity level. Your required calorie intake tells you how much energy your body needs to function at an optimal level.
Consuming more calories than you need, and not burning them off with physical activity leads to weight gain. As per the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an unhealthy diet is the 4th leading cause of death in the US. A balanced diet, on the other hand, can save you a lot of trouble with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, mental illnesses, and many more complications in life. Poor diet is more likely to contribute to stunted growth, weak immunity, osteoporosis, and many other health complications in children that may develop later in life.
What consists of a balanced diet?
Proteins: The Diet Kingpin
Protein does most of the grunt work in your cells. It loves to perform as many tasks as it can, including structuring and regulating your body tissues and organs. Protein should constitute 20% of your daily diet. Proteins make up your muscles, bones, cartilage, and skin – that’s a huge chunk of your body. Proteins are made up of various amino acids. Certain amino acids that are necessary for health are not synthesized in your body, but they can be obtained via a protein diet.
Protein is vitally important for your weight loss regimen since protein can boost your metabolism, which burns calories faster and reduces your appetite. Lean, low-fat meats, i.e., skinless chicken, turkey, fish, and fat-trimmed red meat are better choices if you want to become lean. For vegetarians, tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products provide ample protein. Also, lentils, beans, almonds, peas, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are rich in protein, too.
Your protein requirement varies as per your physiological status, i.e., pregnant women and sick people require more protein.
Recommended daily protein intake is 60 grams for men and 55 grams for women.
Carbohydrates Are Your Very Own Powerhouse
Carbohydrates are often avoided from weight loss diet plans as if they cause plague. A protein diet may help you achieve that coveted figure, but if you want your brain to function like it’s supposed to, you need some carbs since they are the main source of energy. Each gram has 4 calories.
Cut down on carbs like biscuits, white rice, white flour, and bread and go for the healthier lot like brown rice, millets, whole wheat, and oats since they possess higher nutritive value. These carbs are a colossal source of fiber, which is crucial for your digestive system. They also lower cholesterol levels and control blood sugar.
Fiber-rich fruits are bananas, apples, mangoes, oranges, strawberries, and raspberries. As for vegetables, usually, the darker their color, the higher the fiber in them, i.e., artichokes, brussel sprouts, broccoli, beetroots, and carrots. Legumes like lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas have the highest share of fiber.
Recommended carbohydrates intake is 225 to 325 grams per day if you are consuming 2000 calories/day.
Fats Are Not All Evil
When we hear the word ‘fat’, we quickly associate it with something bad. But your body needs fats too, not in excess though. Fats support cell growth, protect your organs, help stock nutrients, produce necessary hormones, and maintain your body’s warmth.
Just like everything in this world, we have good and bad fats. The good guys are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol levels. The bad guys like saturated and trans fats raise cholesterol levels. You can find these good folks in sunflower oil, fish oil, olive oil, seeds, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds.
In your 2,000 calorie-diet, consume 16 to 22 grams of fats daily. But don’t consume more than 30% of your calories from fats.
Vitamins and Minerals Are Your Health Pals
These friendly pals perform hundreds of complex chores for your body. Your body requires around 30 different vitamins and minerals, but cannot synthesize on its own. Adequate vitamin and mineral intake helps strengthen bones, heal wounds, and power your immune system. Deficiency of these nutrients can cause severe problems like scurvy, headaches, blindness, or rickets.
Mineral intake is, however, easier since they are not as fragile as vitamins that quickly become inactive with even slight exposure. Therefore, cooked meals don’t fulfill your vitamin requirement; you need to consume whole vegetables and fruits to fulfill that requirement. Look up each daily vitamin requirement since it varies by age and physiology. Also, avoid ingesting vitamins and minerals in excess. They all have their upper tolerable limits, too much of them can create entirely new troubles of their own.
Bringing It All Together
Keeping track of your daily calorie intake can be a nuisance and discourage you from maintaining a healthy diet plan. How can one remember his or her total number of calories with a dozen of things one eats? But thankfully, we are born in this modern era. The resources available to us can make our lives convenient, such as with an array of apps. FatSecret, My plate Calorie Tracker, and Fooducate are some of the apps that can help you keep track your calories and stick to a balanced diet.