What is a balanced diet?
A balanced diet is one that ensures that all of the requisite macro and trace nutrients that have been identified as essential for the attaining and sustaining of optimal health are consumed in the appropriate volumes and amounts.
The importance of balance within a nutrition plan for weight loss
This definition of what a balanced diet and good nutrition is often catches people off-guard and the reason for this is that they have invariably fell prey to the typical nutritional fallacy that when it comes to diet and nutrition, there is no such phenomena as “too much of a good thing”. In reality, even the macro and trace nutrients which are essential to ensure that all of the biochemical reactions that take place within the body, including intra and extracellular activity, thermogenesis, respiratory functionality and the conduction of electrical nerve impulses must be carefully restricted.
The perils of excess consumption of dietary minerals and macro/trace nutrients
The reason for this is that an excess of a nutrient can be equally damaging as a lack of said nutrient. For example, a diet that has too high a protein content within it will mean that there is a greatly elevated risk of the onset of renal failure, by virtue of the fact that the kidneys are unable to excrete the excess uric acid levels that are currently within the body.
The perils of a deficit in consumption of dietary minerals and macro/trace nutrients
Likewise, a lack of the essential fats within the diet will have a subsequent and knock-on effect for other types of nutritional deficiency. In particular, vitamins such as A and D which are fat soluble and cannot be absorbed by the small intestine without the presence of lipids in the bloodstream.
One of the many benefits associated with a healthy and well-balanced diet is that it is the most effective means of safeguarding against weight gain, because our appetite cravings are suppressed and so we will avoid over-eating.
The guiding principles for good nutrition
In short, the following are the foundations upon which a well-balanced and healthy diet is based upon:
Recommended amount of dietary fat
Contrary to what we may currently believe, fat is essential in any well-balanced diet. However, it is imperative that we are aware of the different types of fat that exist and furthermore, the correct amounts of each that must be included.
The World Health Organisation has made the following recommendations:
- The daily intake of saturated fats for an average female must not exceed 20g. Furthermore, the WHO has also issued the additional caveat that saturated fat should account for no more than 10% of the total daily calorific content of the food consumed.
- The minimum daily intake of dietary fat for an average female is 32g (please note that this figure is classed as being separate from the saturated fat computation) whilst the maximum is set at 70g. The actual percentage of our daily calorific content that can be attributable to dietary fat is recommended at the 20-35% range.
Although dietary fat suffers from a negative reputation, cholesterol is especially vilified within the collective conscious. In reality, cholesterol is responsible for both the repair and production of the delicate membranes of all cells within living mammals; in addition to being a requisite component in the internal production and synthesis of various hormones and steroids of the body.
As such, it is also necessary for some cholesterol to be included within the diet, and experts have determined that less than 300mg is suitable for the maintenance of good health.
There a reliable nutrition plan for weight loss will ensure that sources that provide ample amounts of cholesterol and protein are included within the diet.
Recommended amount of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the primary energy source of and for the body, although technically they are not actually classified as an essential nutrient by virtue of the fact that the body is entirely capable of sustaining itself solely from both the fat and protein content of the diet. in fact, there have been some nutritionists who have proposed that not only is a ketogenic nutrition plan for weight loss (a diet devoid of carbohydrates) not only feasible but indeed, healthy and reasonable.
The WHO has made their recommendation of 55-75% of the total daily calorific content of the food consumed, with the additional caveat that the intake of simple sugars should account for no higher than 10% of the total daily calorie intake/allowance consumed by a person.
Recommended amount of protein
Protein is without a doubt, one of the most essential components that must be ingested, for protein is the building block of all organic life. It is protein that will be used to create the numerous hormones (such as testerone and insulin) as well as the enzymes (amylase, lipase, protease and sucrase) that play such a crucial role in the breakdown of food molecules as they are ingested.
Furthermore, the membranes of all cells within the body are repaired by using the amino acids contained within the protein that we ingest, as are the red blood cells and the antibodies produced by virtue of the body’s defence mechanism, the immune system.
As such, the amount of protein required within the diet is fairly high, and if we are to be guided by the WHO and their recommendations, protein should account for approximately 15-20% of the daily calorific content.
Although red meat such as beef is an excellent source of protein, one of the major drawbacks associated with such food items is that they also happen to have an atrociously high concentration of saturated fats, cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (LDLs) which have been identified as providing a materially contributing impact upon the onset of cardiovascular pathologies.
Vitamins in the diet
There are numerous vitamins that are required in differing amounts by the human body although it is worth noting that vitamin deficiency of vitamin D and K are exceptionally rare within adults in a Western society; and where such deficiency does occur, it has resulted as a consequence of an underlying metabolic disorder.
A nutrition plan for weight loss should not solely restrict itself to the issue of weight loss, but in addition, must actively seek to ensure that the weight loss provided to the dieter is achieved in a staggered and nutritionally sound manner.