In the pursuit of lifelong health and happiness, balance will play a leading role. Balance is the portrayer of love, positivity, serenity, but balance in physical exercise and nutrition as well will be essential in ensuring general wellbeing, allowing you to enjoy life to the fullest.
Maintaining a balanced diet is the base of health and prosperity, as you truly are what you eat. No extreme can be good for you, and while certain individuals will have to skew the balance line a bit in order to reach their specific goals, for the majority of people looking to lead a healthy lifestyle, adhering to a balanced nutrition plan will be most beneficial.
Calorie in, calorie out
First and foremost, calorie intake should be your priority. While calorie source is of the utmost importance in ensuring a healthy macronutrient and micronutrient intake, calories play a pivotal role in balancing your body fat percentage and maintaining your lean muscle mass. You can easily get a rough estimate of your daily caloric needs via an online calorie calculator, after which you will increase or decrease your total calorie requirements according to your goals, habits and aspirations.
A healthy weight loss regime will entail decreasing your daily calorie intake by 200 calories, gradually losing weight (1kg per week at most), and then slowly increasing your calories by 100 as you reach your desired weight class. On the other hand, if you are struggling to put on weight, you will start by increasing daily calories by 200 and gradually decreasing them when the digits on the scale say you’ve reached your goal.
A gradual increase or decrease in your caloric intake will ensure you gain muscle and not fat, or lose fat without losing your much-needed muscle mass in the process. However, the story doesn’t end here.
The macronutrient balance
Contrary to popular belief, a calorie is not just a calorie regardless of its source. Calories from vegetables are vastly different from calories obtained from meat, dairy or eggs, and a balanced, healthy diet will contain all of these sources.
Moreover, a balanced diet has no room for unhealthy foods, such as processed meats, trans-fats, and excess sugar consumption. While you should indulge in your cravings every now and then, you should always remember one simple piece of wisdom: if you take enough rides with the devil, soon enough he is going to be driving.
This is to say that processed foods and sugar create a state of addiction over time, stifling your progress and ruining your health in the process.
Luckily, you won’t experience any unhealthy cravings if you substitute them with healthy solutions, sticking to whole grains and a moderate fruit intake along with plenty of nuts, seeds and natural sweeteners, such as honey or stevia.
Macronutrients are divided into proteins, fats, and carbohydrates – a balanced diet contains all. Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not bad for you, provided they were obtained from complex sources such as lentils and whole grains. Just as well, too much protein can cause a myriad of health problems, and if you do not control your fat intake, it could have long-term consequences.
Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to divide your macronutrient intake into diverse sources, entailing 35% vegetables, 25% whole grains, 20% dairy, 10%meats, and 5% supplements, which will help you attain a desired level of micronutrients.
The importance of micronutrients
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals you obtain through diet and supplementation. Unfortunately, tailoring your diet for optimal micronutrient intake is time-consuming and stressful, and it often does not deliver desired results. This is because every micronutrient has a different bioavailability percentage, meaning that magnesium is hard for the body to absorb through diet, while selenium is not, and so on.
Additionally, given the wide range of necessary micronutrients, it is best to complement your diet with vitamin and mineral supplements, ensuring you get the right amount that is imperative for your wellbeing. People who are physically active and partake in challenging training sessions are encouraged to supplement with minerals that will boost their joint, muscle tissue and nervous system health, such as glucosamine, in order to avoid injury and promote optimal recovery and strength gain.
Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet day in and day out is not hard, it simply requires some adjustments, mental fortitude and before you know it, it will become an inseparable part of your lifestyle!