By now everyone has heard of eating a balanced diet for better health but some believe a healthy diet also means a balanced diet. In fact they are both different.
A balanced diet enables us to obtain all essential nutrients present in a wide range of foods. If the balanced diet plan is consistent it will also provide a regular supply of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients ensuring optimum health and vitality. Optimum health means less illness and health complications but more importantly increase energy levels for physical activity, this is great news for dieting and rapid weight loss. Its important to be aware that a balanced diet can also provide too many fats, refined sugar and salt. If any diet provides too much saturated fat, cholesterol and refined sugars it may be classed as unhealthy and not much use in any program.
A healthy diet plan is mainly a consumption of natural, fresh and wholesome foods for each meal of the day, foods chosen are usually low in fats, sodium and refined sugars. The difference is a healthy diet plan provides us with some nutrients but the balanced diet plan provides us with all essential nutrients.
The problem starts because we tend to eat very similar food every day especially if its our favourite we'll naturally want to eat it more often. Consuming the same foods or types of food can lead to a deficiency in a certain nutrient only present in another food group, one not chosen in our diet plan.
While on a diet we really need to obtain all nutrients the body requires while at the same time maintain a natural and healthy weight loss. Normally a healthy diet plan can help weight loss but a combination of the healthy diet and a balanced diet plan would be great for permanent weight control. We would consume low fat foods plus gain all nutrients. Providing all nutrients regularly gives us the vitality to exercise effectively. Possessing little vitality can give anyone that "can't be bothered or too tired attitude", I mean ever wondered why sometimes we feel so down and low in energy. Some experts believe deficiencies in some nutrients can reduce our ability to produce enough energy making us feel lethargic, although more research is needed.
The idea of combining both the healthy and balanced diet plan is to:
provide variety in the diet
consume more grains, fresh fruits & vegetables which help increase energy levels
low fat intake - especially saturated fats
reduce sugar intake
lower salt intake
provide optimum health & vitality - it gives us the energy to be more active, this = rapid weight loss
To make it easier for you to develop your own healthy and balanced diet plan we will look closer at the basic food groups and the number of servings you should try to consume each day.
BREADS, CEREALS AND POTATOES
Sometimes referred to as grains these provide most of the complex carbohydrates in the diet as well as many other important nutrients, especially most B - vitamins. Foods that make up most of this group are:
This also includes their products for example flour comes from a grain so many products made with flour usually comes under this group. Be aware however that most processed flour products will contain hidden sugars and fats making the foods high in calories and therefore not worth including in a weight loss diet plan. For fast weight loss it would be best to use ingredients for cooking in the most natural form for example brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal flour and wholegrain cereals. These contain high levels of fibre which reduce the amount of fat absorbed in each meal thereby lowering calorie consumption. Potatoes contain lots of complex carbohydrates and usually eaten in large quantities so they are usually in this group although strictly they are a vegetable.
The number of servings should be 6-10 depending on portion size and the energy requirements of the individual.** Its hard to establish a rough serving size as there are too many foods and products in this group. A good guide however is to include this group at each meal and the quantity should comprise as much as 60% of the meal.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Virtually all fresh fruits and vegetables are low in fat, calories and salt. Many are high in fibre. They provide lots of simple chain carbohydrates ( natural sugars ) to increase energy levels for the day, they also provide a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals especially the anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants such as vitamins A, C and E help slow down the aging process by mopping up free radicals which have been shown to damage cells and reduce its life.
Some fruits and vegetables are known to contain thousands of Phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are special molecules produced by plants to keep them protected from insects and many diseases. The health properties of Phytochemicals are passed onto us when we eat fresh fruit and vegetables giving us optimum health and increase energy levels to exercise more effectively - more exercise equals more calorie burning = fast weight loss!
You need to consume about 4 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit each day.** A typical serving would be 4 cabbage leaves or about 4 average sized sprouts or 1 medium-sized banana. A glass of fruit juice can also count as a serving. Using a juicer to prepare vegetable puree and fruit juices is a quick and easy way to provide all our fruit and vegetable servings in a glass to drink with lunch or take to to work, plus a guarantee that each serving is bursting with Phytochemicals. A worthwhile health investment!
MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCE
Foods in this group provide the body with high-quality protein and our main source of calcium. Foods in this group also help provide vitamin D, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin and phosphorous. The vitamins riboflavin and niacin are responsible for releasing energy from fats and sugars keep us active for fast weight loss.
The main foods in this group are:
Healthy adults should consume 2-3 servings each day but in a diet plan 2 should be fine. A typical serving would be half litre milk (half pint) or 2 ounces (50 grams) hard cheese. Always try to consume a high-quality protein sources at separate meals during the day for when we eat too much protein at any meal it will be converted to fat and stored.
For speedier weight loss try to get into the habit of choosing only the low fat variety in each product range.
Other foods in this group include:
Milk products such as milkshakes, ice cream, rice pudding, etc
Cheese spread or cream cheese
The bottom foods should be limited for fast weight loss as most are high in fat and the quality of protein is reduced slightly, some like the cream cheese spreads are usually loaded with sodium which can cause water retention.
MEAT, FISH AND ALTERNATIVES
Most of the foods in this group come from animal origin, some may contain plenty of fats especially saturated. This is why its important to only select the leanest cuts for fast weight loss. They provide us with protein sources of the highest quality for the growth and maintenance of lean body mass which keeps our metabolism optimal. They also provide many other vital nutrients especially iron. Iron is important for healthy levels of red blood cells which help deliver oxygen to muscle cells so we can burn more fat!
Foods in this group include:
Chicken and Turkey
The above foods don’t provide much carbohydrates or fibre in their fresh form. Its important to note that products made from the list above may contain added carbohydrates, fats, sugars and sodium. Good examples are processed, frozen, boxed foods like fish fingers. Although many products like these still provide nutrients they may contain more than double the calorie content of their fresh, natural counterparts so for rapid weight loss processed meat products should be avoided!
Other foods in this group include:
Nuts & Seeds
Legumes dried peas, beans & lentils
Peanut butter & nut spreads
Apart from Tofu these contain high fibre and carbohydrates, however nuts contain up to 50% fat and therefore should be limited for fast weight loss. Adults need about 2 servings each day.** An average portion size should be 1 egg, 3 tablespoons beans or thin slice of meat the size of your hand. For fast weight loss you should not exceed the servings and portion size should be reduced. Many vegetarians learn to combine plant foods to obtain their protein sources. Vegetarian protein
FATS AND SUGARY FOODS
This group provides us with very little nutritional value, although all do contain some nutrients we should try to limit these as much as possible for fast weight loss. The main problem is they contain excessive calories especially in the form of fats. We should eat these foods in addition to - not in place of - other natural, wholesome foods.