Protein might easily be called “the stuff of life.” It makes up to about 45% of total body weight. Get 30% of your calories from protein. Best choices, lean meats, sea foods, poultry and low fat dairy. Protein is the structural core of the human body and is at work in every cell of the body. In fact, next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in most cells. It is required for growth and repair of tissues. All enzymes and many hormones are types of protein. Antibodies and other components of our immune systems are comprised of proteins, so protein plays a major role in fighting disease.
TIP: Include some type of protein in every meal/snack.
Get 50% of your calories here. When it comes to carbs, fruits and vegetable first. Grains are second (the browner the better). Don’t become a carb junkie. Remember that too may carbohydrates are stored as fat. If you are like most Americans, you are eating too many carbohydrates. Don't carb overdose! Most abused carbohydrates foods are pasta, bagels, breads and rice.
Carbohydrates are important because they are the most efficient fuel for the body. Try to maintain a diet of foods that have a low glycemic index rating. Foods with a low glycemic index are considered slow-acting and don’t spike insulin levels.
Fats are important to your body. Our bodies have the capacity to synthesize saturated and unsaturated fatty acids but not important polyunsaturated fatty acids (olive, peanut and safflower oils). For this reason we must consume these polyunsaturated fatty acids in our diets. They are called essential fatty acids. For example; olive, peanut and safflower oils, avocados, and almonds are all "good" fats Look out for Trans Fat (formed from one type of fat to another). Found in: margarine, french fries, and bakery products. Look on food labels for the words “partially hydrogenated,” meaning it’s a commercially synthesized trans fat.
Vitamins and minerals are involved in nearly all metabolic reactions in the body. The various vitamins help in energy production, growth and repair, and fighting off disease and oxidation. Evidence now suggests that vitamins play a much more complex role in assuring vitality and optimal health than previously thought. Even more provocative are new findings that show vitamins can stave off the normal ravages of aging. You can get a lot of needed vitamins from foods, but more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of supplementing with a good vitamin and mineral formula.
Water is vital to most bodily functions. It functions to dissolve substances, is a medium for chemical reactions and a lubricant, and aids in temperature regulation. About one quart of water is lost daily through urine, and during exercise, up to approximately two quarts of water per hour can be lost through perspiration. Drink water often throughout the day. The normal recommendation is approximately 10 cups per day -- more prior to and following exercise.
TIP: Always drink 1 glass of water before each meal.
Eat as much as you can. Try to get at least 25 grams per day. Basically, fiber is plant cells that the human body cannot digest. Among other benefits, diets with sufficient fiber produce softer, bulkier stool, help promote bowel regularity and avoid constipation and other disorders. Vegetables and wholegrain breads are sources of dietary fiber.
TIP: Start your day with a high fiber cereal.
TIP: The above nutritional information applied in your daily life, along with aerobic and strength training (see workout guide), is the key to optimal health.