This month we’re all about nutrition. A balanced diet is like a symphony of nutrients that our bodies need to perform at their best. We all know nutrition is important, but beyond knowing that we should eat our vegetables (and maybe childishly resisting doing so), and a vague understanding that takeaways have too many calories we might not really know what it means. And it’s no wonder with health messages, and food commercials fighting for your attention! So, lets dive into it all a bit more deeply. It’s not just about eating a variety of foods; it’s about getting the right mix of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep us healthy and energised.
First things first, let’s talk about macronutrients. These are the nutrients we need in large quantities to fuel our daily activities. There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates, found in foods like bread, pasta, and fruits, are our body’s preferred source of energy. Proteins, from sources like meat, fish, tofu, and beans, are crucial for repairing and building tissues. And fats, present in avocados, nuts, and oils, are essential for energy storage and absorbing vitamins. You knew that. You also know that there are good fats and bad fats. Or at least we hope you did! Fat is not the enemy. Bad fats are. Carbohydrates aren’t the enemy. Simple sugars that mess with your insulin levels are!
But a balanced diet isn’t just about eating a lot of everything; it’s about getting the right balance. Carbohydrates should make up about 45-65% of your daily calorie intake, while proteins should be around 10-35%, and fats should be around 20-35%. This balance varies depending on factors like age, gender, and activity level, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But it’s nice to have a rough guide.
Now, let’s dive into vitamins and minerals, the superheroes of nutrition. These are known as micronutrients because we need them in much smaller quantities compared to macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals play essential roles in various bodily functions. For instance, vitamin C (found in citrus fruits) keeps our immune system strong, while calcium (abundant in dairy products) is crucial for strong bones and teeth.
To make sure we’re getting enough of these vital nutrients, we often refer to Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) values. RDI represents the daily amount of a nutrient that meets the needs of most people in a particular age and sex group. It’s like a nutritional guideline to help us ensure we’re getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals.
And you’ve probably heard you should eat between five and seven serves of fruit and vegetables a day. (For the fibre and energy as well as the vitamins in fact we think that a huge chunk of your carbohydrate should come from fruit and veg…) But how much is a serve? It’s pretty easy for some fruits and vegetables: one good-sized apple is a serve. One banana, one Roma tomato, one large carrot… But it’s two cups of salad greens, a cup of berries, and half a cup of cooked, mixed vegetables. (Don’t count potatoes towards that half cup!) Remember to eat the rainbow and enjoy the variety to get a range of minerals and vitamins.
Nutrition for Muscles
Now, let’s bring our attention to your muscles. Muscles have specific nutrient requirements to function optimally. Protein is the star player here because it provides the amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. Athletes and those engaged in regular physical activity may need more protein than sedentary individuals to support their muscle development.
Additionally, carbohydrates are essential for replenishing muscle glycogen, which serves as a crucial energy source during exercise. If you’re an active person, make sure to include carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits in your diet to keep those muscles primed and ready.
Eating a balanced diet
A balanced diet is all about finding the right harmony between macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and ensuring you meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs based on RDI values. Don’t forget to give your muscles the attention they deserve by providing them with the necessary nutrients, especially protein and carbohydrates. So, enjoy your meals, savour the variety of foods, and let your body reap the benefits of a well-balanced diet!