This is a post about nutrition 101 and a proper diet.

Disclaimer

I have my nutrition certification and while this post provides some basic information about nutrition, it’s just a guide. Please consult with a registered dietitian for specific concerns or needs. They can do wonders to improve your overall health and help you meet your goals.

Maintaining a healthy weight happens primarily by doing the right amount of exercise and nutrition for you. That combination depends on lots of factors including your genetics, age, lifestyle (inactive versus active) and motivation. Diet is the focus of this post. There is unlimited information available online, and it seems that there is always a new diet trend that is taking the world by storm. However, it’s never a one size fits all solution.

I’m someone that needs a lot of carbs in my diet. Without them, I can’t focus as well, and I can’t maintain a healthy weight for my height. For others, carbs have the opposite effect. So when my family or friends tell me they are on “insert name here” diet and it works for them so others should do it, I have to say something because it won’t work for everyone (more on this later in this post). I’m also a firm believer in long-term lifestyle goals over quick fix solutions that in the long run aren’t sustainable.

Healthy averages according to guidelines

Healthy foods for the basics for a proper diet

Everybody needs a certain amount of calories per day to maintain their current weight.  It varies greatly among individuals and factors including gender, height, weight, and activity level. According to USDA dietary guidelines, with an inactive lifestyle:

If you would like an estimate that is more specific to you, try this free tool through the Mayo Clinic.

It’s as simple (and difficult to do) as that.

In addition to the basic calories in versus calories burned; what you put in your body matters as well.

Food is made up of three components

Carbohydrates

carbs proper diet

Your body’s primary source of energy to fuel brain activity and movement. There are two categories of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

The less refined a carbohydrate is, the more time it takes your body to break it down, which keeps blood sugar levels even. So if you’re looking for a healthier carb to eat, whole grains are better for you than white bread.

Fats

Your body’s primary source of energy storage. Essential to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. There are two main categories of fats, saturated and unsaturated.

Protein

almonds for a proper diet
Excellent and tasty almonds nuts.Healthy food.

Your body’s building blocks for skin, hair, muscle, etc.

As you can see, each component is essential to health.  Generally speaking, about half of your plate should be filled with vegetables while the rest should be an even split between protein and whole grains.  A small amount of healthy fat should be part of your plate (think olive oil-based salad dressing).

Healthy portion sizes

Fats were the enemy in the 80’s and 90’s, and carbohydrates are currently considered diet enemy number one.  None of this is true. It is essential to watch your portion sizes when you’re watching calories or for health specific reasons.  For example:

These are likely much smaller than you think. Portion sizes have increased over the years; for example, slices of bread are bigger, and some restaurant portions are huge!  As mentioned earlier, the number of servings you require per day depends on gender, body composition, and activity level, but on average, women need:

When you’re trying to change your weight, you need to remember that eating “treats” will not provide you with the nutrients required by your body.  It’s especially important if you’re trying to lose, or even maintain weight.  It can be tough to give your body everything it needs when you reduce your caloric intake.  So you need to keep focused on eating nutrient-dense foods and cutting out anything unnecessary like sugar, saturated fat, and alcohol (sorry, especially about that last one).

Fad diets and associated health risks

Fad diets can work for some people because they tend to reduce your overall calorie intake but are not all sustainable in the long run. The diets that aren’t sustainable mean that most people put weight back on right after they finish the diet, and in some cases, even more weight. It’s not only bad for your body, but there are also health risks associated with fad diets.  Some examples include:

In general, if you’re looking to lose or gain weight, or to change your diet for other reasons, you should make small tweaks to an already healthy diet. The reason is that once you reach your target weight, you can easily adjust into maintenance mode.  If you’re starting with an unhealthy diet, start by making small, sustainable changes that will get you to a healthy lifestyle.  For example, start by cutting out dessert once per week; or, increase the number and variety of vegetables that you eat each week.  You could also replace a serving of red meat with lean proteins.  Once you’re on the right track, you can change your diet as needed to accomplish your nutrition goals.

Check out our recipes for some inspiration.

22 Responses

  1. Very well written. I have always worked for balance diet. Today with informative post I have learnt new things. Check out my blog too!
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  2. Thanks for sharing! I agree about the benefits of a registered dietician. Great post. To let you know, this post didn’t show up in my feed today. I know you usually post on Mondays so I had to go to your website to see it instead of wordpress.

  3. Thanks for sharing your tips. I have tried a few diets but they weren’t right for me. It took me a while to get the right balance of diet and exercise to see changes that have lasted so far.

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