Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Whether your fitness goal is to lose weight, gain weight, become stronger, add muscle, or just have more energy on a day to day basis, training is a good start! But, in itself, it will not help you to fully achieve that goal; diet is just as important.
The term “balanced diet” is thrown around a lot. What it really means is to eat a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, helping you to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight whilst consuming the right amount of nutrients.
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The British government’s Eatwell Guide reveals how much of what we eat overall should come from each of the different food groups to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. These are broad guidelines and are not intended to be stuck to rigidly, but instead provide guidance on what a balanced diet should consist of and in what proportion. In total, there are 7 key principles, so let’s dive in.
The Eatwell Guide
1. Fruit and vegetables should make up 1/3 of our daily diet consisting of a variety of 5 portions of fruit or veg per day. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals.
2. Starchy carbohydrates should make up another 1/3 of our daily diet. They provide a good source of energy throughout the day.
3. Dairy is a good source of protein, vitamins and calcium for bone development. Where possible, choose reduced fat and sugar options.
4. Aim to get your protein from leaner sources like beans, pulses and lean meats like chicken. Reduce red meat intake and try to eat two portions of fish per week, with one being oily like salmon.
5. Fats should be reduced and unsaturated where possible.
6. Sugar should be reduced but not entirely cut out as this will reduce enthusiasm for a cleaner diet and make it harder to stick to.
7. Drink water regularly to remain hydrated. 6-8 average sized cups are recommended. Low fat milks and low or sugar free drinks including tea and coffee, all count towards this total. Fruit juices and smoothies also count but as they contain free sugars, limit to 150ml per day. Top Tip: Because fruit juices impact on your sugar consumption, why not dilute them with water to make them last longer and keep you hydrated!
Not only is it important to correct your diet in order to achieve the level of fitness you desire, but it is also central to how your body functions at a fundamental level. That being said, you’re always being told to eat a “healthy, balanced diet” and that in itself can become monotonous, daunting and even a bit off-putting, so, take your journey to a healthier, fitter you by taking it one step at a time and using these 7 principles as a guideline. You’ll feel better for it, trust me!