Balanced Diet

Nutritionists constantly repeat the need to eat right and balanced. We dutifully listen and agree with the experts without realizing what such a “balanced nutrition system” is, the criteria for its effectiveness and the success of the final result.

What is a balanced diet

A balanced diet is a nutrition system that provides the body with “building” substances, vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain the functionality of cells, tissues, individual organs and integral system, which is the human body.

Failure to follow a balanced diet can lead to various health problems, from chronic fatigue and lack of energy to dysfunction of vital organs. This type of diet does not belong to nutrition systems designed specifically for weight loss, but by following it, you can be sure that the body does not accumulate extra pounds of fat. A properly composed balanced diet should contain all the main food groups in optimal proportions. Compliance with the recommended caloric content of the diet will allow you to avoid excess weight. But proper calorie content is not the only requirement for a balanced diet. It is important to make sure that the body receives daily the necessary proteins, fats, carbohydrates, micro- and macronutrients, vitamins, fiber and other useful substances. Most nutritionists in the world agree that one of the most balanced is the classic Mediterranean diet. If you take it as a basis, it is easy to create a balanced menu for a week or even a month.

The Molecular Basis of a Balanced Diet

No diet can be called a balanced diet if it is deficient in carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, vitamins, or minerals. Let's briefly recall why the body needs these substances.

Carbohydrates. It is very difficult to achieve zero carbohydrate content in the diet, but if this happens, then you can be sure that such nutrition will harm the body rather than benefit (even with severe obesity). Carbohydrates serve as the main source of energy. In addition, they are necessary to maintain the shape of the muscles (with a deficiency of carbohydrates, building protein from the muscles is consumed), these same substances serve as "food" for beneficial bacteria living in the intestines. Nutritionists advise to make a diet so that it consists of 45% carbohydrates (ideally, these should be slow carbohydrates).

Fats. Our body needs vegetable and animal fats. They serve as an energy source, are indispensable for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, are important for maintaining the health of the skin and other tissues, are a component of cell membranes and an organic basis for the synthesis of steroid hormones. Fatty foods serve as a source of essential fatty acids (from the omega group), and are also essential for the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Fiber. Another name for this substance is dietary fiber. This is a special type of carbohydrate that is not absorbed by the body. The indispensability of fiber is that it is responsible for the normal functioning of the intestines and maintains a healthy microflora in it, improves digestion, removes toxins from the body and reduces the risk of developing cancer. But taking a large amount of fiber, it is important to ensure sufficient fluid intake, otherwise there is a risk of constipation.

Vitamins. You can talk about the benefits of these substances for a very long time, and about each separately. In short, each of them performs its own function, which in the complex is manifested by the correct growth, development and well-established functioning of the entire system of the human body. As a rule, the lack of any of the vitamins triggers the domino principle, and as a result, the whole body suffers.

Minerals. Our body cannot produce minerals on its own, so it is important to replenish their reserves from food. Each of the minerals, like vitamins, plays a specific role in the body. Maintaining the mineral balance is the key to the balanced functioning of all organs and systems, these are healthy bones, teeth, skin and hair, blood composition and a healthy metabolism.

How to make your diet balanced: basic rules

For a truly balanced diet, it is important to pay attention not only to what we eat, but how often. According to most experts, proper nutrition should consist of 5-6 meals, although some nutritionists (mainly in the West) defend the right to 3 meals a day. But both the former and the latter agree that perhaps the main meal of the day is breakfast, so it should not be skipped. Each meal should contain foods from different food categories (during the day you need to eat food from all permitted groups), and portion sizes should be moderate, corresponding to the required calorie content. By the way, there are several opinions about calories. The most popular version recommends that the daily diet of a man should be 2320 kcal, for women it is enough to consume 1900 kcal per day.

Alcohol in a balanced diet is, if not under a total ban, then severe restrictions are imposed on its use. In addition to alcohol, portions of sugar, salt should also be controlled, as well as limiting the intake of foods rich in saturated lipids and trans fats, and being careful about cholesterol foods.

In addition, a diet cannot be called balanced if the daily diet provides for less than 2 liters of pure non-carbonated water and there is no place for moderate physical activity. Water and sport are those two "bricks" without which it is impossible to achieve balance in the body.

Components of a balanced diet

Dairy products

Different types of cheese, milk, sour cream, kefir, yogurt and other dairy products are indispensable in the diet as a source of calcium, protein and vitamin D. People with lactose intolerance should focus on fermented milk products, and replace cow's milk with nut or soy milk, or take calcium in the form of a dietary supplement.

Protein foods

This group includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans nuts, seeds, eggs, soy products. It is important that in addition to protein, food from this category contains many other useful substances. For example, meat contains a lot of iron, beans - fiber, eggs - an impressive complex of vitamins and minerals, and sea fish, in addition to protein, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. For any of these products, it is important to choose methods that require the addition of a minimum amount of fat. It is also better to avoid processed foods and sausages, as they tend to be supersaturated with fats and sodium. When compiling a menu for a day, it is important to take into account the fact that approximately 30-35% of the total calorie content should be protein foods. This means that a man should eat about 60 g of protein daily, and a woman about 55 g.

Fruits

Fruits do not contain fat, most of them low calorie but very nutritious. By including different types of fruits in your diet, you can get a lot of fiber, as well as most vitamins and minerals. People who prefer fruit juices and dried fruits should remember that in this form, fruit products contain much more calories, so it is advisable to control portions.

Vegetables

As a rule, this is the lowest calorie food group. But nevertheless, vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, therefore they are considered indispensable for humans. A balanced diet includes the use of different types of vegetables, prepared with a minimum use of fat. You should also be careful with starchy vegetables. They are advised to consume no more than 100 g per day.

Cereals

This food group is needed as a source of so-called slow (correct) carbohydrates. Nutritionists recommend regular consumption of whole grains, as they contain more fiber, as well as the maximum amount of B vitamins. Various types of cereals, whole grain bread and some pasta made from durum wheat are what, according to experts, will benefit the human body. But dry ready-made breakfasts, sweet pastries and crackers with sweeteners or other flavorings are useful to avoid. Nutritionists advise to consume at least 30 g of cereals every day.

Fats and oils

In fact, fat is not something dangerous for the body, on the contrary, fatty acids are indispensable for maintaining the functionality of most organs. Fat becomes dangerous only when it is in excess or in the wrong form (the same trans fats). But small portions of butter, olive or other types of vegetable oils in the diet should be present. Fatty foods should determine 1/5 of the daily calorie intake. By the way, do not forget that the source of healthy fats are not only different types of oil, but also nuts, seeds, sea fish, avocados, olives.

What is prohibited

Foods that do not fit into the above categories are considered unhealthy for humans and are not included in a balanced diet. Candy, chocolate, cakes, chips and other fast food products are among the most popular products that "unbalance" a healthy diet. If you really want to, then in rare cases, you can treat yourself to a dessert as relaxation, but in this case it is better to give preference to an option that contains less than 145 kcal.

The balance is different for everyone

This diet is not a meal plan with a clear definition of the number of products. A balanced menu for everyone is unique, their own. What different organisms need depends on various factors:

  • age;
  • sex;
  • lifestyle;
  • health status;
  • physical activity.

In addition, vegetarians, meat lovers, pregnant women and athletes have their own balanced diet options. There are also dietary variations for maintaining a normal weight and for obese people.

Standard. This is the skeleton around which you can create different diet options while maintaining key principles.

Breakfast of any balanced diet consists of carbohydrates (cereals), 1 fruit and protein. A snack is always a fruit or vegetable (can be in the form of juice or salad). A balanced lunch should contain proteins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (such as a slice of whole grain bread or cereal). The second snack in this food system is dairy products and a vegetable or fruit. For dinner, it is good to eat fish or meat (alternate), beans, complex carbohydrates and vegetables.

Meatless variant. For breakfast, you can make a 2-egg omelet (in olive oil) and drink green tea. For a snack, a fruit salad is suitable, and for lunch, bean soup and coleslaw. For a second snack, choose nuts or dried fruits, and for dinner, risotto and fresh tomatoes are suitable.

Option to maintain a stable weight. Weight watchers can, without remorse, have their favorite porridge with 2 egg whites for breakfast, after which they can eat another grapefruit and drink tea or coffee. It is useful to have a snack with cottage cheese, and dine with fish with stewed vegetables. For a second snack, yogurt and an apple are good. If you don't want dinner to be fat on the sides, then your option is stewed cabbage with chicken breast and a glass of herbal tea.

Obesity variant. There are special medical diets to treat obesity, but a balanced diet can also help you lose weight. It is useful for obese people to have low-fat cottage cheese and carrot salad for breakfast. For snacks during the day, you can take fruits, berries or cottage cheese. For lunch, it is useful to eat vegetarian borscht, 100 g of lean meat and some stewed vegetables. A good option for dinner is steamed fish and vegetables.

Option for athletes. An active person's breakfast may consist of oatmeal, boiled eggs, and milk. Lunch can be potatoes, your favorite kind of meat and salad, and for dinner, for example, fish and salad from boiled beans. For a snack, choose fruit or vegetable juices.

Option for pregnant women. Pregnancy is a special period when the female body requires a specific diet. An example would be this menu. Breakfast is milk porridge, a snack is yogurt, lunch is pea soup, fish and stewed vegetables, the second snack is fruit salad, and for dinner unsalted cheese and vinaigrette.

A balanced diet for weight loss

Although the original goal of a balanced diet is not to get rid of excess weight, but with the correct calculation of daily caloric intake, this nutrition system will help lose weight without harming the body. As a rule, for fast and effective weight loss, it is enough to reduce the caloric content of the diet to 1200 kcal per day. And already based on this figure, enter allowed food into the menu. These may include:

  • chicken breast;
  • marine fish;
  • low-fat cottage cheese;
  • cheese;
  • natural yogurt;
  • kefir;
  • eggs;
  • unsweetened fruits;
  • cereals;
  • whole grain bread;
  • vegetables (other than starchy);
  • water.

1000 kcal menu This diet can be used when you need to quickly lose up to 5 kg. In this case, it is useful to have low-fat cottage cheese (about 70 g) for breakfast, eat fruit for a snack (apple, orange, grapefruit), vegetable soup for lunch, and a handful of nuts in the afternoon. In the role of a dietary and proper dinner, boiled chicken breast (about 100 g) is suitable.

Menu for 1200 kcal. This is a balanced "not hungry" diet, but very effective for weight loss. In this version of the diet for breakfast, you can afford a boiled egg, whole grain toast, a tomato and a cup of coffee. A glass of yogurt and fruit will help satisfy your hunger between breakfast and lunch. For lunch, a vegetarian soup, fresh vegetable salad and 100 g of fish or chicken are suitable. An orange and some natural yogurt is an example of a balanced afternoon snack. For dinner, you can cook a portion of rice with lean meat, and before going to bed, drink a glass of chamomile tea.

Menu for 1500 kcal. This weight loss menu is best for people with high physical activity or intensive sports. For such people, a nutritious breakfast of wheat porridge/cottage cheese and apple juice is essential. This is followed by a snack of a large banana and a berry smoothie (for example, blackcurrant rich in vitamins and minerals). For lunch, you can treat yourself to asparagus soup with croutons, eat 150 g of lean meat or fish and a salad of fresh vegetables. For a snack, you can choose dried fruits or nuts and drink green tea. A good example of a dinner would be a vegetable salad and stuffed peppers.

But following a low-calorie balanced menu is not a guarantee of successful weight loss. For the result to be truly pleasing, it is important not to forget about physical activity and the need to drink plenty of water.

It is not for nothing that nutritionists always emphasize the need for a balanced diet. Improper nutrition always leads to the development of serious diseases. A balanced diet is the key to maintaining good health and well-being. According to recent studies, even a person's mood depends on his diet. So make sure that your diet is balanced, as this is not at all difficult to implement.

Sources
  1. Gogulan M. - The laws of good nutrition: an encyclopedia of health / M. Gogulan. - M.: AST, 2009 - 471 p.
  2. Healthy eating. Healthy lifestyle. - M.: AST, 2005 - 237 p.
  3. Gorokhov VA, Gorokhova SN – Therapeutic-balanced nutrition is the way to health and longevity. - St. Petersburg: Peter. 2011 - 278 p.