Nutrition Explained: 

Understanding the Importance of a Balanced Diet in Weight Loss and Ongoing Health

Nutrition Explained

Understanding the Importance of a Balanced Diet in Weight Loss and Ongoing Health

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is just as important when we’re trying to lose weight as it is for our ongoing health once we’ve reached our goals. This means that even though we may be on a weight loss programme, we still need to eat a variety of foods in the right proportions, as well as drink plenty of water. There are 6 major food groups: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Sometimes fibre is added as a seventh group. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of these food groups.

 

Our Changing Habits

Obesity is not due to greed, but a lack of information. In the last 50 years the food and diet industry have changed our eating habits. We have gone from eating real food, prepared from scratch at home to becoming reliant on processed food and ready meals. These processed foods have changed our taste buds to crave sweeter food, slowed down our metabolism and increased the amount of toxins in our body, which all combine to create weight gain. The message of eat less and move more has become the mantra for weight loss – but it’s not as simple as that.

 

Achieving Sustainable Weight Loss

We want you to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. This is not another quick-fix diet – but a lifestyle change. Weight loss is a side effect – you will have more energy, sleep better and feel less stressed. A healthy weight loss is in the region of 1-3lbs a week (depending on your starting weight). For successful weight loss you need to free yourself from the food industry and start cooking real food at home again. Junk food should not be seen as a treat – but what it is – junk.

 

Major Nutrients in a Healthy Diet

Protein

Protein is essential for the human body – we are made of protein. Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids, which are used to build all the tissues in our body (hair, nails, skin and muscles). Ensuring you have enough protein in your diet is vital. It will help you to feel fuller for longer and will stabilise your blood sugars. Try and include some protein with every meal or snack.

Protein includes meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and dairy.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a source of energy for the body. They are broken down by the body into sugar molecules called glucose. Carbohydrates can be split into 2 categories. Simple carbohydrates such as white bread, bagels, cakes, muffins and biscuits and Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole-grains, sweet potatoes, whole rolled oats, quinoa, rye bread, beans and lentils.

 

The key for sustainable weight loss is to cut down on the simple carbohydrates. These cause a sudden increase in sugar in the body, which release quick energy, but this is followed by a dip in energy known as a ‘blood sugar crash’. If you constantly eat simple carbohydrates your blood sugar levels can be up and down throughout the day leaving you constantly hungry, craving sweet things and feeling tired all the time.

 

Fats

Fats have a number of crucial roles in the body and dietary fat alone does not make us fat (it’s more likely to be the sugar!). Fats are used as a source of energy, to transport some vitamins around (A, D, E and K) and to maintain cell membranes. One of the main problems with our Western diet is the type of fats we consume.

Fats to be avoided: Processed trans fats and hydrogenated fats. Fats to be consumed in moderation: Animal fats. Fats that are better for you: Oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.

 

Water

Our body is made up of over 60% water and every cell in our body needs water just to function. Dehydration, even mild, can cause headaches, dry skin, constipation, tiredness and low blood pressure. Everyone’s water needs are slightly different, but we should be aiming for a minimum of 1.5 litres a day.

 

The Power of Vegetables

Vegetables are packed with phytonutrients, which are chemicals that give the plants colour, smell and flavour. Research into these phytonutrients is still fairly new, but the evidence into lowering your risk of strokes, cancer and heart disease by just increasing your intake of vegetables is really starting to emerge now.

 

Fibre

Eating a high fibre diet has many benefits – good digestive health, improved cardiovascular health, good for mental health, less risk of diabetes… the list goes on. Fibre is your friend when you want to lose weight – it requires you to chew more, slows down eating and can therefore improve satiety (the feeling of fullness).

 

In Conclusion

Understanding what your body needs and in what quantities is key to achieving a healthy and permanent weight loss. Spend time getting to know the different food groups, how they benefit your body and the best ways to consume them is an essential part of successfully losing weight and keeping weight off once you’ve achieved your goal.

 

If you’re looking for meal inspiration check out our recipe section on GreggWallace.Health.

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Author: Katherine Bright MBANT, CNHC