A healthy nutrition plan is a healthy, proportionate meal management plan that covers all food groups necessary for a well-balanced diet. The idea is to encourage a diversity of nutrients into the meals so that we can get optimized nutrition and, therefore, an optimum level of health and fitness in all dimensions.
The more variety of macronutrients (that include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (that include vitamins and minerals) you include through different food groups in your diet, the more nutrition your body is going to get, which is needed to perform different functions.
However, a healthy nutrition plan does not only depend on your food choices and the number of servings you take in a day. It also depends on your dietary habits, your preparatory methods, and the way you consume the meals. Every aspect of your dietary behavior and pattern encompasses a healthy nutrition level in your body. In that regard, the gaps, meal durations, temperature, the social setting during eating, stress factors, and freshness of the ingredients used are some of the factors that play an integral role in deciding your nutrition level. The imbalance of any of the factors might substantially affect the way you consume calories and nutrients in your diet.
The menu overview
A healthy nutrition plan is recommended from the general dietary guidelines as given by the Australian Guide and other associations, which refer to several factors that suggest different food groups. An individual should have a recommended range of servings according to their physical activity level, gender, age, height, and other physical conditions. These conditions together decide the total calories required to be consumed by the individual, which are divided into a proportional number of servings for each food group.
These include starches (bread and cereals), fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat (poultry, fish, red meat, and other proteins from animal sources and plant sources). A healthy daily diet plan should encompass all these food groups proportioned into suitable servings based on the calorie requirement of the individual. The Acceptable Macronutrient Dietary Range divides the food group servings into the carbs, proteins, and fats gram requirement based on the caloric requirement. This makes the individual sure to have a better understanding of the macronutrients they are going to consume throughout the day based on the macronutrient distribution. As a result, it is made sure that there is no room for nutritional deficiency in terms of macronutrient distribution in a normal, well-balanced diet.
How to lose weight? (Male + Female)
Losing weight is the main question of concern for a lot of people. It is a general trend seen in people that males gain fat over their abdomen once they get in their middle ages, while females tend to gain fat on their back, hips, thighs, and belly to a significant extent after pregnancy and in their middle ages. However, this is just about taking looking at things from a bird’s eye perspective. We see a lot of cases where excessive weight gain knows no boundaries of life stage, age, or gender. Losing weight becomes important in a lot of conditions to maintain a healthy physique and internal mechanism of the body.
For a BMI lying in the range of the Overweight category, “it is recommended that the individual’s Ideal Body Weight is found out, and then there is a smooth calorie restriction in their diet. This is done by cutting some portions from the meals, so the individual consumes some calories less than the calories they expend. The result would be a quick metabolism of the fat in order for the body to bridge that calorie deficit for energy, making the individual lose weight”.
How to Build Strength? (Male + Female)
Building stamina improves overall health, makes an individual strong enough to endure stressful situations (both physical and mental) in a better way, and get the right support through the use of body muscles and bones of the body to perform demanding tasks in an effective way. For building strength in the best way, it is important to take note of all facets of life: mental and physical.
In the physical dimension, it is important to take care of your diet and up your exercise regime. In diet, we recommend you taking protein-rich foods in your meals, which include eggs, meat, and legumes. These help in improving the cell synthesis of your body, giving you the right fuel for your body to prepare for endurance. “Cardiorespiratory exercises, strength training workouts, and HIIT or High-intensity Interval Training are some of the key exercises you need to do to increase your stamina. Do some yoga and meditation to stabilize your mind, which will help build your stamina as we talk about mental health. This is important because building stamina requires a lot of discipline, emotional stability, and perseverance at multiple levels”.
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Different diets approach
With the rising trend and awareness to boost health and fitness levels in individuals, different dietary approaches have come on the horizon. A lot of health enthusiasts claim that a certain diet provides the one-in-all benefit for all people, with weight loss being the most popular one among the different advantages being discussed. These diet approaches include the Keto diet, the Vegan or the Plant-Based, Holistic Diet, Raw Food Diet, Paleo Diet, Intermittent Fasting, and the list goes on.
Each diet comes with its own features and its mechanism of action. For example, the keto diet suggests that the body loses fat through entering the process of ketosis. When the body is using fat as its primary source of burning calories to gain energy, there is no way the individual doing the diet can gain any excess fat in the body. “A diet like this would require you to drastically shift your servings and food groups, restricting carbs and maximizing the fats instead so that your body enters into that state”. More research needs to be conducted on the benefits and the effects of each such diet on the body; however, still, a lot of people are going with the trend and following these diets, considering them the cure-alls for everything.
The menstrual cycle- the different phases in relation to training and nutrition
The menstrual cycle plays an important role in a female’s body in terms of balancing hormones and optimizing the process of reproduction as she gets into her reproductive age. Though it is a natural process that initiates on its own at a certain time in one’s life, the fact that this delicate cycle of stages requires an optimum functioning of hormones, we come to note that factors like nutrition play an important role in regulating these cycles. “The ovulatory phase, for example, demands the female to get a healthy intake of nutrients such as vitamin B6 and B12 to optimize her nutrition. What’s more, the preovulatory stage requires a healthy intake of protein-rich meals so that she stays on her optimum levels of nutrition”. As the basal metabolic rate tends to get high during the menses and there is a general catabolic process happening in the reproductive tract of the female, there is a need for a positive nitrogen balance in the diet.
What’s more, she also needs to take care of her exercise regime. A woman in her pre-ovulation stage can do any kind of exercise — weight training, cardiorespiratory exercises, and others. During menses, it is recommended to shift to light activities such as stretching and yoga as they help in the smooth flow of the blood from the uterus. It also helps in alleviating cramps and periods of pain that can arise during this stage.
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Female hormones and how that may impact fitness and health goals
Female hormones are a great contributor to a woman’s overall health. Take estrogens, for example; any imbalance in this hormone can cause mood swings in them. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is a common display of this kind of imbalance. On the other hand, if androgens get released in an amount higher than usual, you have problems like excessive hair growth and acne. You need to make sure that you take care of this hormonal balance so that your mental and physical health levels stay at their finest.
Let’s take some hormonal conditions into account that impact the health and fitness of a woman. PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS severely affects the health and fitness of a woman, for example. Most of the women with this condition are prone to become overweight and ultimately obese. This is because of the increased insulin resistance by the imbalance of progesterone, androgen, and estrogen in their bodies. This is why a lot of women with their hormones upset in conditions like these are suggested to make several changes in their diet and exercise regime throughout their life so that they can get beneficial effects from balancing their hormones and stay safe from the symptoms.
We live in times where nearly everyone is prone to have stress in their life. Be it taking care of children, finalizing a thesis, or meeting deadlines and making someone agree to your viewpoint, stress never really leaves us free. “It is therefore important to take care of your stress levels so that it doesn’t make your lives unbearable. Stress management is technically an art that combines techniques relating to time management, emotional intelligence, and mental counseling”. The combination of all these factors helps the individual to beat the stress and get more results from the work they do on a daily basis.
In time management, you can learn techniques like the Pomodoro technique and the Eisenhower Matrix box system, for instance. For emotional intelligence, you can try journaling your negative thoughts and behaviors and come to a cohesive and practical approach that works well to make your emotions stable and helpful. You can also do meditations, cognitive-behavioral therapies, and yoga as ways to improve your mental health to a significant extent. These are all the factors through which you can improve your stress management skills.
The effects of stress on the body
Although some stress always acts as a positive motivator for the individual to finish certain tasks, staying in such a state where your body is high on adrenaline all the time can be detrimental to your health. You will eventually enter the mode of “Adrenal Fatigue.” In this state, your adrenal cortex has gone into the exhaustive state of producing the cortisol hormone (stress hormone) so much that it has now impacted the body on a huge level. Instead of the fight or flight response where your muscles get into the alerting state to fight whatever comes in the way, it becomes fatigued because of the excess secretion of the hormone. This is why you feel tiredness and muscle tension all over your body when you are in a state of chronic stress.
The lethargy deprives you of the ability to function at your best, and it also soon spreads on the mental dimension as well. When you were in a hyperactive state, your mind was quite alert to the anticipated stimuli around you. In chronic stress, the brain becomes unable to cope with that high for longer times, making you mentally exhausted as well.
Sleep is one of the basic needs for every human. It is recommended that you get a nice uninterrupted sleep of at least 6 and at the most 8 hours to function properly during the day. A lot of this recommendation has to do with the concept of REM — Rapid Eye Movement — which concerns the deep sleep phase usually happening in midnight hours till dawn. If you aren’t sleeping by then, there is a case you wouldn’t be able to get your REM sleep. This phase is the time when your body is recovering its processes and cells, therefore, making you more functional for the other day.
People who don’t sleep on time experience conditions such as stress, emotional irregularity, and mental fog. The chronic effect of a lack of sleeping properly on physical health includes obesity as your hormones are disturbed, and you don’t your body functions getting rejuvenated at their best levels. According to science, women may require more sleep than men do as it is thought that women have more complex brains than men.
A healthy, well-balanced diet is an essential thing to consider when talking about optimizing your nutrient intake for a healthy lifestyle. However, this is not the only thing you need to consider. The time during which you take your nutrients might also play a possible part in determining your overall health. A lot of it has to do with the nutrient to nutrient interaction and the absorption capacity of that vitamin or mineral in the body.
For example, the best time to take calcium is during the daytime when the sun is at its peak levels. This is to ensure that you get the maximum intake of calcium in your bones as you take vitamin D from the sun. Nutrient interaction plays another role in this game. For example, it is recommended that you don’t take any food rich in iron when you are taking a calcium-rich food source. The two compete with each other, forming a chelate, which hinders the absorption of the other nutrient in the body.
Structuring your Calories and Macros
While you are determined to find out your calorie intake for yourself as you create a diet plan for a health and fitness goal, it is important to first take your time to learn how to calculate your calories and macros. The first step in structuring your calories is to identify your fitness goals. If you want to lose weight, you need to subtract some calories (we recommend 500 from the total), or you can also use your IBW or adjusted body weight. Then, a typical approach would be to use a predictive equation such as Harris-Benedict Equation. Here, you are asked to put in your weight (normal if healthy, IBW or adjusted body weight if overweight or obese), age, and height.
Now that you have calculated your total energy requirements put in your stress factors and physical activity factors so that you can get an estimate of your calories. From the AMDR, pick any of the percent you think is good for a moderate macronutrient and divide it by the total calories calculated. Multiply the answer by 4 to get values in grams required for carbs and proteins, and by 9 to get values in grams required for fats. This way, you would know how you would need to divide your food groups in terms of macronutrients you are going to eat for a day.
Lifestyle changes Talk about treat meals?
Extremely restricted diets do not encourage you to go anywhere near about treating yourself through some comfort foods. Having favorite foods might land you in trouble and might go against the rules for these diets, especially when you are following restrictive approaches like intermittent fasting. However, a smooth weight loss through a healthy, well-balanced diet offers you some space to treat yourself to your favorite meals and cherish the items you like.
For example, it is not a bad idea to consume cookies and holiday treats on a festive occasion such as Christmas or your birthday. A little chocolate snack once a week coupled with some almonds would do you no harm and therefore not considered a sin when it comes to a weight loss regime. The whole idea is to take things in moderation and make decisions wisely. If you are going for a cheat meal, make sure you balance your caloric intake by taking a diet high in fiber to regulate your satiety levels for the day and limit binge eating.
Basic dining out ideas
Dining out ideas include a bunch of wise takeaways you need to keep in mind so that you can eat free of guilt without getting into the fear of not meeting your health and fitness goals. These basic dining out ideas include taking care of your food groups as you decide to consume a said meal. For example, you are out with a friend on a dinner date and decide to order a pizza. As you know, pizza is high in fat and carbs; you need to minimize its effect on your body by ordering some salad on the side as well. Prefer going for a feta cheese topping and try a thin crust pizza. When ordering pasta or a burger, look for the ingredients saying “Whole Grain” so that you have better options when you dine out.
Avoid ordering sugary drinks when you dine out; instead, go for a seasonal fruit drink or a lemon iced tea. Ask the waiter to bring you some sweetener separately instead of adding it to the drink. These are some of the ways through which you can make your dining out experience better in terms of your health and fitness.
How much exercise you need to burn off certain foods
When you consume food, you consume calories. To burn them off, you need to expend the energy through some physical activity. Exercise is the best way to burn off these calories. So, if you think you took some extra calories a while ago by eating your favorite cake, it is important you know how much exercise you need to do so you can burn off the calories you just consumed. To help you understand how much minutes of physical activity in the form of exercise you would need to do to burn calories, we have enlisted a table as:
As you can see, the more processed the food is and the more sugar it contains, the more time you will need to spend doing the same activity to burn the calories off your body. Take the serving size into account as well before you decide to calculate the minutes for the said exercise to burn the calories.
Fat loss facts
Contrary to the popular belief that is becoming even more mainstream given the misinformation on the media, fat loss is not something that occurs overnight. “You might have seen people applauding the keto diet for quick weight loss results, but it is actually a loss in the body water from the body. The adipose tissue takes a while to deplete from its site of storage. Another point of concern is that the fat loss is only sustained when there is a healthy and smooth transition from a high caloric to a low caloric diet at a very slow phase”.
Dietitians generally recommend taking 500 kilocalories off from your calorie requirements gradually per week as you transition to a weight loss journey. This helps you in the sustenance of fat loss from your body, which is not quite evident in restrictive diets. This is why even when you see instant results from these popular diets, the sustainability of the results is a factor that often goes in the negative. This is called the Yo-yo effect for fat loss from the body.
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