If you have started on your healthy lifestyle journey, you are likely to know that at each meal you should make sure you include good carbs, good protein & good fats – this combination will help sugar cravings, keep you fuller for longer and stop you from snacking and to ensure you have the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. If you want to start on your healthy lifestyle journey, get on board too!
Why do we need carbs?
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. For your brain, heart and nervous system to function properly, you need a constant supply of carbohydrates. During digestion, all forms of carbohydrates are converted into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy for muscles and other parts of the body. Before you work out you need to ensure your muscles are well fuelled. (e.g. include good carbs in your dinner!) The more active you are the more carbohydrates you need to fuel your muscles. This does not mean carb load! Unless you are running a marathon!
What are some examples of good carbs?
- Brown rice
- Sweet potato
- Rice noodles
- Wheat free pasta
- Sourdough bread (the less crap and less processed the better)
Salad ingredients and veggies are also classed as good carbs, but you can have much more of them! Just watch your portion control though!
Even though you may be eating good carbs, you can over do them as well. Have a sweet potato that is about the size of your fist, or if its a long skinny one, the length of your hand. If you are having brown rice or quiona, have a small handful. If you have wheat free pasta or rice noddles, have a handful cooked.
Why do we need protein?
Including protein in your diet is important, as it provides us with energy and is vital for repair and growth of all our cells and muscles. Extra important when exercising and doing a lot of strength and muscle work.
Protein belongs to a class of nutrients called macronutrients, so called because your body requires large amounts of them. The proteins in your body perform a number of different functions essential for sustaining your life.
- Provides support to all our body tissues – helps us to stand and move
- Collagen (is a protein) is the component in your bones, tendons and ligaments that form and protect our joints
- Contains 2 proteins – actin and myosin – that allow your muscles to contract
- Is essential to maintain fluid balance and acid-base balance.
- Help alter the pH of your blood to ensure the proper acid-base balance. if your blood becomes too acidic, proteins will jump in to send it back to normal, this is the same if your blood is too alkaline.
- Antibodies are also a protein created by your immune system
- Protein is also an energy source when needed, but its not to be relied on – your body prefers to get energy from good carbs and good fats, so that proteins can get on with making sure the rest of your body is doing ok!
What are some examples of protein?
- Chicken (organic or chemical free is preferred)
- Fish – salmon etc.
- Red meat – but 1-2 times a week tops. It is very acidic
- Prawns and other seafood
In terms of the amount of protein you should have a day, depends on your weight and your activity level. More active people and those doing more strength training will need more protein, to help repair muscles. The RDA recommended levels of protein is between 0.8-1.8grams per kg of body weight (0.8gms if you aren’t active, 1.3gram if you are active or pregnant and 1.8gms if you are in training and very active. But again I hate all those numbers, but will give you an example anyway:
Woman weighs 65kgs & is pretty active. So she should have 84grams of protein each day.
So what does that equate to, just to give you a guide
- 2 eggs = about 6grams each
- 1/4 cup almonds = 8 grams
- Lentils/black beans etc = 8-10grams per 1/2 cup cooked
- Most fish is approx 22grams for a 100gram piece
- 100gms chicken is approx 30 grams of protein
So if you have some eggs for breakfast, some chicken salad for lunch and fish for dinner, you will be about right for your protein amount. Add some nuts/seeds to your salad to bump you up a bit. So having protein at each meal and snack, is really worth your while. Don’t focus on the amount that you eat, but the fact that you eat protein at each meal.
This does not mean protein shakes or protein bars!
You have to eat REAL food…
Protein shakes/food replacement shakes are NOT recommended.
Many diets these days have protein shakes or meal replacement shakes or powders as part of the diet to lose weight.
We know now that protein is important for our bodies to build muscles and stay strong, but drinking protein shakes instead of real food and real meals isn’t healthy. These shakes/powders are highly processed, high in sugar and most will be fortified with vitamins and minerals, but in reality you are missing out on having REAL healthy and filling food.
A smarter and safer way to improve your health in the long term is to adopt a varied, balanced lifestyle change which you will find the Blue Sky Fitness healthy eating meal plan.
I believe that a healthy, varied, balanced lifestyle, including exercise is the best long term way to lose weight and keep it off.
Protein shakes or meal replacement shakes:
- Don’t teach you how to make healthy choices from real food which you are confronted with every day.
- Don’t help you learn the importance of fresh, unprocessed REAL food.
- Are sweet tasting, which can encourage a ‘sweet tooth’
- Can get boring – drinking the same flavour, or only a couple of alternative flavours all the time = boring!
Those that use protein/meal replacement shakes as a way to reduce their overall calories to lose weight usually can only do it for limited periods of time. After a while, the urge to eat REAL food (usually the wrong ones!) becomes overwhelming, so the weight tends to go back on.
In the end, remember that REAL, whole food provides all the nutrients you need; it provides increased satiety and eating enjoyment – way better than being replaced with a shake!
Why do we need good fats?
Bad fats (Saturated fats and trans fats) are the ones we need to reduce in our diets. An excess of bad fats is bad for our health and can lead to heart disease, increase blood and cholesterol levels.
You find the bad fats in foods such as meat and dairy products – cheese, butter and whole milk. All processed foods such as cakes, bread, pastries, lollies, chocolate’s and ready meals all have a degree of bad fats in them.
Good fats (Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats) play an important role in keeping our bodies functioning property, so should play an active role in our diets!
Monounsaturated fats, found in oils such as olive, rapeseed and sesame oil, are the preferred choice for cooking.
Polyunsaturated fats are even better for you and have 2 very important fatty acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6, also known as essential fatty acids. These are essential and should be included in our diets, because our bodies can’t produce them on their own. These fats help our main systems to function – cardiovascular, immune, digestive, nervous and reproductive.
Foods rich in Omega 3 include oily fish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, white bait, herrings, soya-beans, walnuts and linseed. Foods rich in Omega 6 include walnuts, sunflower oil and sunflower seeds.
What are some examples of good fats:
- Olive oil