Wednesday 21 February 2018

What Makes A Healthy Meal?

Healthy Eating Broken Down

What is a balanced and healthy meal comprised of?

Broken down, what makes a balanced meal is the incorporation of all the healthy components.  This includes:

  • Lean protein
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats
  • Fibre
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

I suggest you aim for 400 - 600 calories per person for your healthy main meal every day, as well as approximately 300 - 400 calories for your other two meals (though this is dependent on your exercise levels, please contact me for more information about this if you are training).

What does this really mean in practical terms?

To create a meal, you can look at the different components and build it from there.
Lean Protein
The base of your meal, the lean protein. Providing your body with a quality source of protein at each meal will help you feel satisfied longer while supporting muscle growth and metabolism. The right amount is critical, as research has shown about 20 to 40 grams of protein is optimal. Select lean meat options such as 5 ounces (about the size of a smartphone) of free-range beef, cage-free chicken, wild salmon, or other fish. If interested in non-meat protein sources, consider 3 to 4  eggs or egg whites, a cup of Greek-style yogurt, or 2 to 3 ounces of mixed nuts.
Complex Carbohydrates
To obtain a steady source of energy, complex carbohydrates are required. Some healthy options are 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, organic brown rice, or whole-grain pasta. If the typical grains don’t sound appealing to you, your body can still get the same fuel from 1 cup of baked yams or sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, or a corn tortilla. Any of these choices are low-glycemic and shouldn’t cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar that could lead to a crash.
Fibre gives you the 'full' feeling and provides a good source of food for your pro-biotics. Fibre is called a pre-biotic.
Most fruits and vegetables have so few calories and are so densely packed with nutrients, including fibre, that there’s no strict limit to portion size, so adding more can be a great way to raise volume of your meal and help fill you up without over consuming calories. Fill half your plate at each meal with 2 to 3 cups of fruits and vegetables such as apple or orange slices, berries, broccoli, kale, spinach, steamed vegetables, or a mixed green salad. To add some color to your plate, try options such as sliced tomatoes, carrots, or bell peppers. If you’re still feeling hungry after your meal, you can’t go wrong with a second helping of vegetables.
Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are often neglected when planning a meal because of the negative stigma fats carry; however, these fats are important to your body’s health and can make any meal more satisfying. Adding half an avocado or 1 tablespoon of pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds to any salad or plate is an easy way to give your body an adequate source of fatty acids. Incorporating essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for health, is a great benefit too. These can be found in your fish and vegetable oils (ensure they are freshly milled, don't buy preground seeds such as Flaxseed, as the oil goes rancid within 72 hours and you negate the benefits).
Lastly, remember to add flavor in the form of fresh herbs, spices, or condiments, which can provide important antioxidant vitamins and polyphenols. These can include basil, parsley, pepper, cinnamon, and other tasty varieties.

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