Lose fat the healthy wayWant to feel slim, fit & happy? It may be a simple case of tweaking your diet, setting some realistic goals and eating at regular intervals

Do you sometimes feel low in energy? Catch colds easily? Or suffer from skin problems? It may be because of your diet. An unbalanced or poor diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies or overloads that result in not so optimal performances – both mentally and physically. Following a diet that is well-balanced will not only improve your overall health, but will help you lose fat and keep it off.

If you’re not happy with the state of your health, the very least you can do for yourself is to find out if your daily diet satisfies the basic nutritional needs of sustaining a healthy body. Eating a balanced diet can give you vitality and energy, boost your immune system and ward off serious disease. Plus, if you want to shed some extra kilos eating well-balanced and healthy meals will keep all this weight off.

So what do we mean when we talk about a balanced and healthy diet? For Australians, a balanced diet is one that is adequate in energy and nutrients, meeting the demands of everyday living without encouraging weight gain. A healthy diet is also about the prevention of disease and the maintenance of well-being.

In response to concerns regarding disease patterns in Australia the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia put together the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which encourage us to:

 

  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • Eat plenty of breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain), vegetables (including legumes) and fruits.
  • Eat a diet low in fat and, in particular, low in saturated fat.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight by balancing physical activity and food intake.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit your intake.
  • Eat only a moderate amount of sugars and foods containing added sugars.
  • Choose low-salt foods and use salt sparingly.
  • Encourage and support breast-feeding.
  • Eat foods containing calcium. This is particularly important for girls and women.
  • Eat foods containing iron. This applies particularly to girls, women, vegetarians and athletes.

If you struggle to eat the recommended quota of two servings of fruit a day try these ideas:

 

  • Add mango to a Thai
  • chicken salad
  • Freeze grapes for a cool summer snack
  • Add pear to a simple rocket and low-fat parmesan salad

Carbohydrates and fibre

Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for your body. Nutrition experts recommend 55-to-60 per cent of your total food intake should come from carbohydrates, particularly the complex type like bread, pasta, cereals, vegetables and pulses.

Protein

Protein is very important in our diets as inadequate protein leads to a stunting of growth in children and wasting in adults. The recommended intake of protein for Australians is 0.75g per kilogram of body weight per day.

Fat

Dietary surveys in Australia have indicated that most of us consume around 35-to-37 per cent of our dietary energy as fat, with about 40 per cent of this being saturated fat. Nutritionists recommend we reduce our fat intake to 30 per cent or less of total intake, with emphasis on mono-and polyunsaturated rather than saturated fats.

Your 2009-action plan

    1. Eat plenty of grains, cereals and legumes – the wholegrain forms of these foods without added fats, refined sugars and salt are preferable. These are low in fat and key sources of carbohydrates, B vitamins, fibre and minerals. Examples include bread, cereals, rice, pasta, peas, beans and lentils.
    2. Eat more fruits and vegetables – Many studies have confirmed that people with the highest intakes of vegetables and fruits have the lowest rates of heart disease and cancer. Fruits and vegetables provide many micronutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, fibre, potassium and magnesium.
    3. Ensure a moderate intake of sugar – Sugar can be a part of a balanced healthy diet by contributing energy or kilojoules. However sugar supplies no other nutrients and can easily displace more nutritious foods, not to mention contribute to a high kilojoule or energy diet.
    4. Eat a low-fat diet especially low in saturated fat – fats are an essential part of our diet. The best types of fats include the monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado and the polyunsaturated fats like sunflower oil, fish oils and some nuts and seeds.
    5. Choose low salt foods and use salt sparingly – Too much salt has been linked with the development of hypertension (high blood pressure). The average diet contains more than twice the recommended level of salt.
    6. Hydrate with plenty of water – Most people don’t drink enough water. The human body is 70 per cent water and needs about two litres of water each day to keep it hydrated. The kidneys need water to flush out toxins that collect in the blood.
    7. Limit alcohol intake – Moderate or heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with high blood pressure, certain cancers and obesity. A safe intake is two drinks a day for women and four drinks for men.

Although there are hundreds of different eating plans and diets out there to help you lose weight, following a well-balanced eating plan will not only get results, you will successfully be able to keep the weight off.