A balanced diet supplements your body with the nutrients it needs to work effectively. Without a good balance of nutrition, your body is more prone to illnesses, fatigue, and low performance. Having a healthy diet is especially important for athletes to ensure their bodies' peak performance.
In this article we will be covering the various types of nutrients required to keep your body functioning at an optimal level and how much of each nutrient to incorporate into your diet to hopefully help you craft a more balanced diet.
Type of nutrients your body requires
In this section we will be covering all the essential nutrients that your body requires and what benefits they provide. We will also provide some sources of food that are rich in these nutrients so that you can add them to your diet.
Carbohydrates are are sugars and starches that your body requires to break down and convert them to energy for use. They are one of your body's main source of energy and are a staple in every meal.
Benefits & Uses:
- Allows your body to break them down to use as energy for your daily activities.
- Used as fuel for your brain to help sharpen mental functions and reaction times.
- Some carbohydrates help lower cholesterol levels helping you keep your heart healthy and functioning efficiently.
Protein consists of essential amino acids and enzymes, it is found in every part of body from muscle tissues,hair,skin and bones. It is very important to take in sufficient amounts of protein because it helps repair torn muscles tissue after exercise which makes them stronger. It is also important to ensure healthy hair and skin.
Benefits & Uses:
- Essential to build muscle mass and promote growth which helps your body become stronger and healthier.
- Protein improves metabolism, this is useful for people who want to lose a little weight and is especially important for athletes as it breaks down all the other nutrients for the body to absorb easily.
- It promotes healthy hair and skin. Because our skin and hair is made up of protein, it is important to take in enough protein to allow them to grow and maintain their strength leading to an improved overall feel and look.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals serve several key functions to keep your body running at it's peak. They can be obtained from most fruits and vegetables and should be an essential part of your daily diet.
Benefits & Uses:
- Vitamins help bolster your immune system helping your body fight against illnesses and reduces the chances of you falling sick.
- They aid in converting food into nutrients to allow absorption by your body and boost cellular repair.
- They help to promote healthy growth and development. Vitamins and minerals are especially important for children and teenagers as it will help them stay healthy and grow properly.
Most people like to stay away from fat, but our body requires healthy fat in order to break down fat soluble vitamins. Contrary to popular belief healthy fats actually lower cholesterol which in turn reduces the risk of suffering from a stroke or heart diseases, so it is good to incorporate some form of healthy fat into your diet.
Benefits & Uses:
- Helps to dissolve fat soluble vitamins to allow your body to absorb their nutrients into the bloodstream.
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels which effectively reduces the chance of strokes and heart diseases.
- Healthy fats reduce inflammation in the body leading to healthier looking skin and better blood circulation.
What constitutes a balanced diet
Now that we have gone through all the essential nutrients your body requires, let's take a look how much of these nutrients you need each day and how much of each foods you should be eating daily.
Recommended daily intake
One of the easiest method to ensure you are eating a balanced diet is the plate method. Basically, you divide your plate into sections and fill up each section with a food rich in different nutrients. For the sake of simplicity we will use the plate method to help make it easier for you to plan out your diet.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are fuel for your body to help keep up with your daily activities. It is recommended that carbohydrates make up 25% of your meal. Try to fill up 25% of your plate with some form of complex carbohydrate to ensure you are supplying your body the energy it needs to function keeping you healthy and sharp.
Protein: Protein is important for muscle and cell repair and should make up 25% of your diet. Following the plate method make sure 25% of your plate is filled with some sort of food that is rich in protein to ensure sufficient protein intake.
Vitamins & Minerals: Fruits and vegetables should make up of half your plate as there are many different types of vitamins your body requires, so it is recommended that 50% of your diet should consists of some forms of fruits and vegetables.
Healthy Fats: There are many ways to get your recommended intake of healthy fats. Your body does not require a large amount of this to be healthy, so we will not be including them in the plate method. You can use olive or peanut oil to cook your food or have a snack consisting of cashew and peanuts in between meals to ensure you are getting the recommended daily intake of healthy fats.
Although it might be hard to lead a balanced lifestyle in this face paced society, it is still highly recommend that you try to plan out your meals to the best of your ability in order ensure you take in the recommended daily nutrient intake. Eat healthy and exercise regularly, your body will definitely thank you in the long run!