What is Nutrition?

The old – but still relevant - adage “You Are What You Eat” is true. If you eat greasy, unhealthy food all the time you will end up out of shape and probably plagued by a number of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease. However, if you eat a balanced and healthy diet, which gives you the vitamins, nutrients and minerals that you need, your body will be strong and healthy as a result. So what does healthy nutrition look like?

A bit of everything

If you want to eat a healthy diet, you need to eat some of all the basic food groups on a daily basis. These groups are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Dairy Products
  • Fats and Oils
  • Fruit and Vegetables

Carbohydrates should constitute the bulk of a person’s diet. Fruits and vegetables should be the next largest followed by dairy and protein. Remember that you can’t be too rigid in terms of sources of nutrients as some people may not eat certain things. For example, some vegetarians do not eat meat which means that they will need to supplement their intake of protein with plant-based proteins. As well, some people are allergic to wheat. Thus, they will need to find gluten-free alternatives to grains and cereals.

Avoid faddish diets

Over the years, there have been many faddish diets to become popular:

  • There was a stage where ‘fat’ was considered a swear word and everyone looked for low-fat or fat-free alternatives. Now, people are preferring full-cream milk and cheese because this does not contain the same amounts of added sugar that their skinnier counterparts contain.
  • The Food Pyramid, which was developed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) said that the bulk of our diets need to consist of carbohydrates (as we’ve mentioned above). However now carbs have been given a bad rep (it started with the Atkins Diet) and diet fundi’s are saying that your diet needs to be packed full of protein and that the carbs need to be axed.

Unfortunately, many people latch onto one aspect of these diets and don’t read the fine print. Take, for example, the low-carb, high-protein movement. Many people who subscribe to this way of eating think that they can eat as much protein as they like without putting on weight. This is as long as they cut out the carbs entirely.

A calorie is a calorie. It is the same as if you eat carbs or proteins. This means that if you eat more protein that you need to you will put on weight. The way to lose weight is to eat less calories than you need to or, alternatively, to use up the calories that you eat. If you truly want to lose weight, don’t rely solely on exercise as following this method of doing things is not efficient. Only professional athletes – or people who do strenuous, consistent physical activity on a daily basis – will succeed in losing weight solely through exercise and fitness. If you sit behind a desk day in and day out, and only do moderate amounts of exercise, to be effective with losing weight, we suggest that you follow a calorie-controlled nutrition plan in addition to an exercise routine that has been carefully planned by a personal trainer.

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