A Balanced Diet: What it is and how to achieve it

Blog Author
Harry Longworth
Date of post
1 March 2024
Blog Category

In the whirlwind of modern lifestyle, social media and dietary trends, the concept of a balanced diet can be over-complicated. When scrolling through recipe videos on TikTok, or ‘what I eat in a day’ reels on Instagram, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. This blog post will simplify everything you need to know in order to achieve a balanced diet.

WHAT IS A BALANCED DIET?

A balanced diet is about consuming a variety of foods in appropriate proportions to meet the body’s nutritional needs. It’s not about strict rules or deprivation but rather about moderation. A balanced diet includes a range of food groups, each offering nutrients vital for different bodily functions.

HOW TO ACHIEVE A BALANCED DIET

Let’s start with the basics… the MACROS:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fats

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are essential in a balanced diet. They serve as the primary energy source for the body, especially during high-intensity workouts and endurance activities. Understanding the importance of carbohydrates for fitness is crucial for optimising performance.

They are especially important for:

  • ENERGY – Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which is readily used by the body for energy production. During exercise, especially intense or prolonged sessions, the body relies heavily on glycogen stores derived from carbohydrates to sustain performance. Adequate carbohydrate intake ensures optimal glycogen levels, providing the energy necessary for working out.
  • IMPROVED ENDURANCE – Eating carbohydrates before and during prolonged exercise sessions helps maintain blood glucose levels and delays fatigue, allowing individuals to sustain activity for longer durations and perform at their best.
  • MUSCLE RECOVERY & REPAIR – Carbs, particularly when consumed alongside protein, facilitate the replenishment of glycogen stores and promote muscle protein synthesis. This process aids in muscle repair, reduces soreness, and accelerates recovery, enabling individuals to bounce back faster from intense workouts.
  • OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE – Whether running, lifting weights, or competing in a sport, carbs provide the quick energy bursts needed, allowing individuals to perform at peak levels. 
  • REGULATION OF METABOLISM – Carbohydrates play a vital role in regulating metabolism and supporting overall metabolic health. Eating carbs in conjunction with other macronutrients helps maintain metabolic balance, regulates blood sugar levels, and prevents metabolic imbalances that can hinder fitness progress and compromise overall well-being.

PROTEIN

Protein is one of the three macronutrients essential for human nutrition, alongside carbohydrates and fats. It is composed of amino acids, which are organic compounds that serve as the building blocks of life. Proteins play a crucial role in virtually every biological process in the body, from building and repairing tissues to supporting immune function and regulating metabolism.

Find out more about the benefits of protein here

FATS

Fats can often be misunderstood. They can be viewed as unhealthy and to be avoided. However, fats play a crucial role in overall health, especially when it comes to fitness. 

Fats serve as a concentrated source of energy. During prolonged endurance activities or low-intensity exercises, the body taps into its fat stores as a primary fuel source, helping to sustain energy levels and prolong exercise duration.

Moreover, fats are integral for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), which are essential for various bodily functions, including immune support, bone health, and antioxidant protection. Without an adequate intake of dietary fats, the body may struggle to absorb these crucial nutrients, potentially compromising overall health and fitness performance.

In the context of fitness and muscle development, certain types of fats, possess anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in reducing exercise-induced inflammation and promoting faster recovery.

OTHER IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF A BALANCED DIET

  • FRUIT & VEG – They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre, which are essential for overall health. 
  • DAIRY (or alternatives) – Dairy products are great sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. However, if you’re lactose intolerant or follow a vegan lifestyle, alternatives will do just fine!
  • WHOLE GRAINS – Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat bread are rich in complex carbs and fibre. They are good for providing energy and promoting digestive health.
  • HYDRATION –  Drink water!

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE

A balanced diet isn’t just about maintaining a healthy weight, it’s about nourishing your body from the inside out. It supports immunity, reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and promotes overall longevity and vitality. Moreover, a balanced diet encourages a positive relationship with food, prioritising nourishment rather than restriction. Food is fuel guys!

In a world inundated with conflicting nutritional advice, sticking to the fundamentals of a balanced diet can provide clarity and peace of mind. It’s a simple yet profound concept that prioritises physical and mental health and well-being. 

Are you struggling with your nutrition?

Get in touch with one of our coaches and they can guide you in the right direction.

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