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#MassyMethodMondays: Everything You Need To Know About Eating A 'Balanced Diet'

When it comes to having a healthy body all year around, balance is the key. Following a diet that provides your body with the nutrition it needs to function properly will help you stay healthy and lean throughout all four seasons.

Trends and popular diets that restrict you from a particular food group can leave you feeling deprived and force you to quit on your healthy habits. A healthy diet has a variety of nutrient dense foods that includes whole grains, leafy greens, fruits, lean proteins, and good fats. Keeping a balance of all major food groups will help you feel satisfied, nourish your body with everything it needs, and help you maintain long-term results.

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Food is energy. If energy isn’t used, our bodies will store it in the form of fat for future use. A healthy diet will be based on a person’s caloric intake. This number is based on age, gender and physical activity.

The following examples of caloric intake are based upon U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines:

•   Children ages 2 to 8: 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day.

•   Active women ages 14 to 30: 2,400 calories per day.

•   Sedentary women ages 14 to 30: 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day.

•   Active men ages 14 to 30: 2,800 to 3,000 calories per day.

•   Sedentary men ages 14 to 30: 2,000 to 2,600 calories per day.

•   Active men and women over 30: 2,200 to 3,000 calories per day.

•   Sedentary men and women over 30: 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day.

According to the Institute of Medicine, adults should get 45 percent to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 20 percent to 35 percent from fat, and 10 to 35 percent from protein.

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The source of your daily calories is as important as the amount of calories you ingest on a daily basis in order for your body’s organs and tissues to work effectively. A balanced diet will help you stay disease and infection free, increase your energy levels, maintain a healthy looking physique and improve overall performance.

Below, get the skinny on the healthy carbs, fats, lean proteins, leafy greens and fruits you should be eating: 

Whole Grains/Healthy Carbs: Oats, Wheat, Barley, Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Couscous, Brown Rice, Lentils, Beans, Whole Wheat Pasta, Sprouted bBead, Grits.

Lean Proteins: Chicken/Turkey Breast, Fish and Shellfish, Eggs, Cottage Cheese, Greek Yogurt, Tofu/Soy Based Products.

Leafy Greens: Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Green Beans, Carrots, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Cauliflower, Beets, Zucchini, Leeks, Brussels Sprouts, Squash, Radishes, Lettuces, Asparagus and Avocado.

Fruits: Bananas, Oranges, Grapefruits, Berries, Cantaloupe, Green Apple, Watermelon, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Bananas.

Good Fats and Oils: raw nuts, nut oils, nut butters, fish and fish oils, avocado, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, coconut oil.

Below, read up on foods you should avoid: 

You should limit your consumption of empty calories. Empty calories are foods that provide little to no nutritional value to your body but pack in tons of calories. These are the foods that are the real enemy when it comes to maintaining a healthy looking body.

Refined grains, processed sugars, solid and saturated fats, alcohol, and high sodium foods like:

•   Cakes

•   Alcohols

•   Cheese

•   Cookies

•   Pretzels

•   Chips

•   Frozen dinners

•   Doughnuts

•   Energy drinks

•   Fruit drinks

•   Ice cream

•   Pizza

•   Sports drinks

•   Sodas

•   Cured bacon and Sausage Links

Every year, a new diet or trend gives certain food groups a bad reputation, but when it comes to long-term results, a balanced diet is key. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods will help you achieve your goals safely and help you stay disease-free. Best of all, you'll never feel deprived — which will keep you on track and happy.

PLUS: What To Eat Before & After A Tough Workout