Healthy Diet

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” - La Rochefoucauld

How to Follow a Healthy Diet Plan 

As we all know, a good diet plan is very essential for staying fit and healthy. In this article, we will see what kind of foods you can eat to follow a healthy diet plan, the amount of calories provided by various foods and the recommended calorie intake for people of all ages.

What is a Healthy Diet?
A healthy diet is a well-balanced diet, which necessarily contains foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, proteins and just the required amount of fat, salt, and sugar.

Diet Tips for Eating Wise
Variety is the key: Eat a wide variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are rich in dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins, and are cholesterol-free as different foods provide different type of nutrients. Also include low fat diary, fish, poultry, and lean meat in your diet plan.

Break the fast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast can fuel you brain and give a great start to your day. Do not skip breakfast.

Image Courtsey: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Eat your greens…..and oranges: Green leafy veggies such as lettuce and spinach are concentrated and rich sources of vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which strengthen your bones and teeth. Similarly, the orange color of carrot and many other fruits and vegetables is contributed by beta-carotene, which is a great anti-oxidant and gets converted to vitamin A, which has a lot of health benefits.

How sweet is too sweet? Sweets are high-calorie foods and most of them contain loads of fat too! They cause unnecessary weight gain. You should also stay away from refined grains as the refining process strips them of their dietary fiber and diminishes their nutritive value. Too much sweet can be a major stumbling block to your health and fitness goals.

Are animal fats healthy? Unfortunately, No. Animal fats are rich in saturated fat, which is responsible for increase in cholesterol levels and thus many other related ailments. Restrict your intake of egg yolks, meat, poultry, and dairy products as they contain cholesterol. Similarly, hydrogenated vegetable oils, found in many processed and fast foods, contain trans fats, which are harmful for your heart. However, fish is healthy as it contains a lot of unsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol and is good for your heart.

Restrict alcohol intake: Excess alcohol consumption has been proven to be unhealthy and causes undesirable weight gain too. Alcoholic drinks are rich in calories and do not contain much of other nutrients. However, moderate alcohol intake is harmless and sometimes beneficial too!

Drink water – its worth it: Drink plenty of water every day. Water not only helps you stay hydrated and active, but also is good for your heart and boosts energy levels. It flushes out the toxins in your body and can give you healthy glowing skin. Water is essential for digestion of food and also helps in weight loss.

Calorie Counter
Now let us see how many calories do we need every day. An average adult needs approximately 1200 calories a day. You can distribute your daily calories wisely across your breakfast, lunch and dinner, by having a rich breakfast amounting to about 400 calories, a moderately rich lunch having nearly 350 calories and ofcourse a light dinner of about 300 calories. The rest of your daily calorie allowance can come from the snacks you eat in between meals.

Apple and Tape

Snacking is a good idea because it controls appetite and prevents overeating during meals, provided you are snacking on healthy foods such as fruits or sprouts. It is also advisable to have several short meals throughout the day rather than sticking to the conventional three-meals-a-day routine. This is because short meals are easily digested, keep you energized throughout the day, and help keep hunger away.

However, one size does not fit all and individual calorie needs depend on gender, age, and physical activity.

Calorie Calculators

The following tables will give you an idea about your specific calorie requirements and help you achieve a healthy calorie intake.

Males aged DAILY Calorie REQUIREMENT
11 – 15 2500
Above 18 3067
25 – 50 2900

Note the high calorie requirement for the above 18 age group. This is because people belonging to this age group are supposed to peak in physical activity.

Females aged DAILY CALORIE REQUIREMENT
11 – 14 2200
Above 18 2400
25 – 50 2200

Note the relatively stable calorie needs for women. This is because women attain puberty earlier compared to men.

Children DAILY CALORIE REQUIREMENT
0 – 6 months 550
6 months to 1 year 850
3 – 8 1800

Please note that these calorie requirements are for people with average height and weight. These numbers will vary according to levels of physical activity. If you are an athlete, your physical activity will be high and your calorie requirements will be necessarily higher than that noted in the above tables. On the contrary, if you follow a sedentary lifestyle, you might need lesser calories per day than that recommended above. Similarly, if you are on a weight loss program, you will need to consume lesser calories than required for you and combine it with physical activity too.

Calories Provided by Common Foods

Now that you know how many calories you need per day to sustain, let us take a look at how much calories are provided by some common foods we consume.

Fish/Meat/Egg Calories (per 100g)
Sardine 211
Mackerel 93
Prawn 89
Beef 114
Chicken 109
Mutton 194
Hen’s egg 173
Pork 114
Fruits Calories
Apple (medium) 60
Banana (medium) 80
Dates (4 oz) 214
Grapes (cup) 90
Lemon (medium) 15
Mango (4 oz) 75
Orange (medium) 50
Papaya (4 oz) 45
Olives (4 oz) 85
Plums (medium) 20
Strawberries (4 oz) 26
Gauva (4 oz) 57
Watermelon (4 oz) 54
Beverages Calories (kcal/100g)
Grape juice 55
Orange juice 44
Apple juice 55
Cocoa (cup) 213
Mango juice 58
Tea (cup) 79
Tomato juice 17
Coffee (cup) 98
Dairy products Calories/100g
Cow’s milk 100
Skimmed milk 45
Buffalo milk 115
Butter 734
Cheddar Cheese 429
Milk cream 210
Ghee 910
Yoghurt 95
Vegetables Calories (in 4 oz)
Asparagus 10
Carrots 22
Beans 20
Cauliflower (cup) 30
Cucumber 15
Eggplant (cup) 26
Mushrooms (cup) 18
Onions 40
Broccoli 15
Cereals Calories
Oatmeal (1 oz) 108
Rice noodles (4 oz) 361
Barley (1 oz) 88
Cornflakes (1 oz) 87
Brown rice (half cup) 350
Basmati rice (half cup) 330
Whole wheat (100g) 330
Oils Calories/1 tbsp
Extra Virgin Olive oil 120
Coconut oil 117
Peanut oil 119
Sunflower oil 120
Almond oil 120
Corn oil 120
Sesame oil 120
Vegetable oil 124

I hope this article helps you all in being aware of your daily calorie requirements, devising a healthy diet plan and keeping a check on your weight. Strike a balance between your calorie intake and your energy output. Stay active and burn the calories you consume so as to stay fit and keep those extra pounds off!

Do mail your comments or feedback to queries@yourfitnessmantra.com.

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