The food you eat is the fuel that drives you. It’s therefore important to provide your hard-working body with a healthy diet to keep it in optimal working order and top physical fitness.
Forget about all the fad diets and “miracle” weight-loss plans known, and instead simply put your effort and time into ensuring a balance of the right kinds of food, in the appropriate amounts, and at the proper times.
What does your body need?
You have to provide your body with energy, in the form of calories, as well as a combination of specific nutrients to stay fit and healthy, mainly:
- carbohydrates—for immediate energy
- fats (both saturated and unsaturated) —as a longer-term supply of energy
- protein—to build and repair body tissues
- fiber—to enable bowel efficiency
- vitamins, such as A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, and E —to help with all kinds of bodily functions
- minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc—to help all kinds of cellular activity and to help regulate metabolism.
Because each of these nutrients is found in different foods, it’s important to eat a wide and varied diet.
No matter how healthy the food you eat, you won’t get fitter or reduce weight if you eat too much. One way of assessing how much you should consume is by means of calories (kcal). Most store-bought foods have the calorie content listed on them, which means it can be easy to keep track of approximate intake.
An average man needs about 2,500 calories a day, and an average woman needs about 2,000 calories a day.
Above is the recommended average amount of calories a person needs to consume a day, however, the real amount differs from person to person in accordance to their own lifestyle requirements.
The key to maintaining weight is to burn off (through cardio exercise) the same amount of calories as you eat, and the key to dropping pounds is to burn off more calories than you eat.
If you don’t like counting calories, you can control how much you eat by being aware of serving size. Here are some guidelines to the ideal amounts of specific food types for a moderately active, average-sized person to eat in any given meal:
- vegetables—as many as you want
- fish—a piece the size of a checkbook
- lean meat—a bit the size of a deck of playing cards
- pasta, rice, cereal, grains, or potatoes—a serving the size of a clenched fist
- cheese and other dairy products—a serving the size of a small matchbox.
If you feel you have to cut down on your serving size but are finding it tough, try the following:
- Keep serving size in mind when preparing your meal in order not to make too much in the first place.
- Use a smaller plate than usual so that it doesn’t look too empty when put in front of you.
- Eat slowly to give your brain a chance to register when you’re full.