With so many diet fads and this diet approach or that diet approach going around, it’s often hard to decide which diet you should consider. Some diets count calories, others count fat or carbs. What’s the best solution when everything is so confusing?
The best plan is to get back to basics and eat a balanced meal plan. The truth is, your body has to have protein, carbs and fat to be healthy. Cutting any one of them out can lead to poor health down the road. You may feel better, in the early stages, but as your body tries to function over time without the necessary nutrients it needs, you will start to feel poorly again.
Let’s break down what each component does for your body and then cover some basic tips for eating better. I will not get all scientific in the descriptions. I will keep it simple.
Protein – Protein is found in every cell of your body. Not just some cells, but in all of them. It’s absolutely necessary for your bones, muscles, skin, hair and nails. Animal proteins, such as those derived from chicken or fresh fish are a complete protein, which means they supply the amino acids your body can’t produce on its own.
Other sources of protein include beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.
Protein deficiency leads to muscle loss, bone loss, low calcium absorption, fractures and osteoporosis. As you can see, it’s very important to have some protein every day.
Carbs – Carbohydrates also play a big role in the body. They are the main energy source your body needs to run on. But, they are also important for brain function, your organs, cells and tissues. They also play a role in intestinal health
and the elimination of wastes from your body.
Clearly you need to have some carbs in your diet. So, what’s up with all the low carb diets? A good low carb diet does not completely remove carbs from the eating plan. It simply allows for better carb choices, which I’ll cover in the section for better eating habits.
Fats – Fats come in two varieties, good fats and bad fats. You want to consume more good fats and less bad fats. Fat plays many roles in the body, but one of the most important is to help you absorb nutrients, especially the fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Fats are good for your hair and skin, but it also gives you essential fatty acids. These are fatty acids that your body can’t produce on its own, so you need to consume some healthy fats for this to happen.
So, how do you balance all of this and make better choices?
The best way is to design your own eating plan. You may have to work with it over time. It’s not set in stone. Each day you should consume some protein, some carbs and some healthy fats.
For your protein choices, have a little bit of red meat, but not too much. Try to eat more fish and poultry. Nuts, seeds and beans also supply some protein.
For your carb choices, and this is an area that people really need to improve, is simply eat better carbs. Stop eating processed carbs; cakes, breads, cookies, etc. Eat more beans, nuts and vegetables—food that grows naturally. Also consider this, can the food be eaten raw? If it’s grown in the ground and could be eaten straight from the garden, it’s a good choice. I’m not saying you have to eat your fruits and vegetables raw, but you could.
Fats. This one is another tricky area because there are so many bad fats in almost everything we eat. But the truth is, the majority of bad fats are in processed foods. Good fats come from real food. Like I mentioned about carbs, fats fall right in line. Good fat choices include nuts, seeds, avocados, etc. You’ll also get some fat from your protein sources.
If you’ve tried every diet craze and nothing has worked, maybe it’s time for a whole lifestyle change and a healthy eating plan that comes straight from nature. The best way to shop for this diet is to avoid the aisles in the grocery store and buy your food from the meat, cheese and produce sections.