Most of us have heard of the merits of eating a well-balanced meals, which include daily servings of fruit, vegetables, protein, fat, dairy and of course bread/starches. Nutri-Lean is based on traditional and conventional eating, focusing on the fact that our body needs calories from each of these basic food groups in order to function at its optimum level.
As we have mentioned, you should balance your meals with roughly one-third each of protein, good carbs and healthy fats. This is a realistic nutritional balance that will familiarise you with healthy eating habits and ensure your body receives all of the nutrients it needs in order to function at its optimum level. For example, if you are aiming to eat 1,800 calories per day, then roughly 600 calories each should come from carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Another way we may inadvertently overeat and consume too many calories is by not controlling our portions and serving sizes.
A common method for estimating a serving size is to gauge it by the size of your own hand:
- Consider one serving of protein to be roughly the size and thickness of the palm of your hand.
- A serving of good carbohydrates is equal to two of your loose fists.
Carbohydrates are essential as both a primary fuel source for our bodies, as well as the sole source of fuel for our brains. They play a major role in our mental clarity and physical energy. When we deny ourselves of carbohydrates, we tend to feel sluggish and lethargic; however by over-consuming carbohydrates, your body will store this extra ‘potential’ energy as fat.
The key to healthy carbohydrates consumption lies in the quality of your carb choices more so than in the quantity of carbs your consume. Carbohydrates are found in a multitude of food groups – not just in breads and pasta. Carbs are also found in fruits, vegetables and sugar-laden foods. In fact, carbohydrate-rich foods are typically broken down into two main groups: good carbs and bad carbs.
When choosing ‘good’ carbs to consume, and in what quantity consider the following:
- Eat them according to your activity level (the more you exercise, the more you can healthily consume)
- Choose carbohydrates that help you feel satisfied and energised (such as apples, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, lentils or nuts)
- Avoid carbs that you find ‘addictive’ or tend to eat in excess as they often contain unhealthy added sugars, fats or chemicals
So, make it a point to take in roughly 2-3 servings*, or roughly 1/3 of your daily calories in the form of good carbohydrates. You will not only satisfy some of your daily servings of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, but you will find yourself feeling more energised, motivated and above all just plain good.
*Remember, one serving of good carbs equals 2 loose fists; a serving of bad carbs equals 1 tight fist
Some of the main functions of protein in our body are to maintain and repair the cells in our muscles, organs, ligaments and tendons, and to regulate numerous bodily functions. Protein is also necessary in the growth and development of children and adolescents.
Try to consume approximately 2-3 servings – or 1/3 of your daily calories as lean protein. One serving of protein can equal:
- 50-75g cooked poultry, fish or lean meat (equal to the size and thickness of the palm of your hand)
- 1 egg*
*equals 25g of lean meat
- 75g dry lentils, legumes or beans
- 2 tbsp peanut butter*
- 75-100g crab (tinned)
- 25-50g dry soybeans
- 125-150g tofu
- 125-150g peanuts
- 50-75g cheese (eg cheddar or low-fat mozzarella)
For an extra protein boost when you’re on the go, reach for a tasty Fast Break Energy Bar or nutritious Forever Lite Ultra shake.
Despite all the negative connotations surrounding fats, it is in fact necessary in our diets for two main reasons – it signals your brain when you are full and should stop eating, and it slows your body’s absorption of your meal.
It is recommended that we consume approximately 1/3 of our daily calories in mono-unsaturated, or ‘healthy’ fat – typically found in olive oil, avocados, peanut butter and most nuts. While that may seem like a higher percentage compared to other foods we eat, consider the fact that fat is already found naturally in a lot of our protein sources. For example, if you eat a hamburger made from 80% lean minced beef, then 20% of that burger contains fat. Even a piece of grilled salmon – one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids – contains this healthy fat as well. So when calculating your percentage of fat intake, remember this breakdown.
How you consume your daily intake of fat is up to you – if your protein source is naturally rich in healthy fat (such as lean meat/fowl, some fish and nuts), then you do not need any extra fat. Or if you are eating a salad, for example, dress it with some olive oil and vinegar, or sprinkle it with almond slices, avocado or olives.
Dispel the myth that all fat is bad for you. Become familiar with healthy fats and try to incorporate a few nuts, a tbsp of olive oil or another good source into each meal.
Are you aware that nearly 70% of your body is comprised of water? The odds are you are chronically dehydrated along with 75% of the population. In fact, by the time you start to feel thirsty, you are likely to have already lost at least 1 litre of your total body water.
Water plays a vital role in everything from regulating our body temperature to protecting our organs and tissues, it is also an integral part in any endeavour to lose weight. In addition to making you feel fuller, water helps you flush out excess toxins and prevent bloating. Drinking at least eight 240ml servings of water each day will allow you to replenishing the water you lose; but don’t forget to drink an extra bottle after vigorous exercise and heavy perspiration.
So, if you are feeling tired or lethargic, have a dull, persistent headache, or if your eyes feel dry from your contact lenses, reach for that glass of water as these are classic signs of dehydration. While there may be other causes behind these feelings, before you automatically turn to the medicine cabinet think back to how much water you’ve had that day, and rehydrate yourself with a glass or two – your body will thank you!