Category: Health & Fitness
Created on Thursday, 21 July 2011 00:19
Written by Sam K
“You are what you eat” is a maxim that you are sure to have heard at some point. Since our bodies need food for sustenance and growth, there’s no denying the importance of what we feed ourselves. But are you familiar with your daily diet and why do you eat what you eat?
Let's see. Most of our daily food needs can be classified into three major groups – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All three are also supplemented with additional nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, water and fibre. And the trick to a healthy, balanced diet involves taking each of the food groups in moderate amounts.
However, what constitutes the right amount? To answer this question, it is important to first understand the key roles each of the food group play.Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the most commonly available form of nutritions around us, and could be easily found in staples such as rice, bread, or other sugary food and drinks. They are broken down in the body for use as glucose, which serves as our main source of fuel for our daily activities and what keeps us energised.
Insufficient carbohydrates in your diet will lead to fatigue, causing you to feel tired or sleepy easily as your body goes into starvation mode and tries to conserve energy. The lack of carbohydrates may also slow your body metabolism and the rate at which your body burns calories – a counter-productive move in a weight-loss diet.
Conversely, eating too much carbohydrates at one go will result in excess glucose that your body converts to fats for storage. The body can only process so much food at once, and any excess will be stored.
As such, taking your meals in moderate amounts and spreading your intake throughout the day is a much healthier and effective method of controlling your weight rather than starving yourself of carbohydrates or taking only one or two big meals a day.
If you really have to cut down on carbohydrates, you can reduce the amount consumed by only having small quantities each meal, and take light healthy snacks in between to keep your glucose levels up.
Consuming whole grains is also another great way to manage your carbohydrate levels as they take a longer time to digest. Hence, glucose is released into your blood at a slower rate, allowing your body enough time to process it.Proteins
Proteins are important for our body’s growth and repair, mostly coming from the meats and dairy products. They can also be used as an energy source when the body is short of carbohydrates and fats.
Taking sufficient proteins is important to ensure healthy growth and development, especially for those on a fitness regime. Since there is more muscle wear and tear during long stretches of exercise, more protein is needed for repair. Insufficient proteins will result in minimal muscular development even with a rigorous fitness programme.
If you’re planning to put on more mass, a varied consumption of protein is a must. Fish meat is a great source of protein that is lower in unhealthy fats compared to red meats such as beef and pork. At the same time, fish proteins are more complete than vegetable proteins. Fats
Fats serve as our primary store of energy, and are important for some of our body’s essential functions such as hormone production. Another subtle effect of fats is to provide satiation, and a lack of fats in your diet may lead to overconsumption of other foods, as well as a decrease in metabolic rate.
Despite the bad reputation they may suffer from, they are a very important part of diet, and should not be excessively avoided! The key, however, is to avoid unhealthy trans fats usually created in processed foods such as fast foods as well as to select your foods wisely.
Now that you have an idea of the major food groups and their functions, what exactly is a balanced proportion for daily consumption?
While our food requirements vary from person to person, a rough guide would be a ratio of one to two times the amount of carbohydrates, for each serving of protein, while the fats used in most cooked foods would be sufficient for our daily needs.
Depending on the amount of physical activity and your metabolic rate, you should vary the ratio and the total amount of food you consume to suit your lifestyle. It will take a little experimenting, but once you get the right balance, you’ll find yourself leading a much more refreshed and energised life!Your might also like: The Art of Breathing
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