Healthy Eating 101
Do you know how to eat as healthily as possible? We have two very clear steps for you to take in order to begin optimizing the way you eat each day.
- Know what you need; and
- Understand the best plans to follow.
Let’s look at how to know what you need. Food is energy, and energy comes from the calories consumed. You probably already know about the need to track your calories, but do you know how to determine exactly the number of calories required?
Learning What You Need
If you are to understand how much to eat you have to calculate something known as the BMR or the basal metabolic rate. This is different for each person, and is calculated by using the following formula:
- Adult male: 66 + (6.3 x body weight in lbs.) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years); or
- Adult female: 655 + (4.3 x weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).
When you do this mathematical calculation you will end up with the minimal number of calories that you will require to maintain your current body weight. What is interesting about this figure is that it is the number of calories needed if you just lay around! You have to bump up this number based on the exercise you do each day as well.
So, if you are trying to lose weight you need only calculate the BMR and then create a calorie deficit by eating around 200 fewer calories each day (but never declining less than 1200 calories each day).
Eating What You Need
Here is the time when many people make some mistakes about healthy eating because they think that all of their calories are the same. In other words, you can eat 1500 calories in candy and soda without it causing a problem…right? Wrong!
Healthy eating means getting the largest amount of nutrition from your food choices each day, and that means eating calories that are not “empty”. That diet of candy and soda would be full of sugar, and sugary foods are often nutritionally void because they contain only carbohydrates but no vitamins or minerals.
This might make you wonder how to go about getting all of those nutrients, and the answer is readily available. You can rely on the guidelines supplied by groups like the USDA with its “Food Plate” system; or the UKs Food Standards Agency and its “Eatwell Plate” program.
Each of these systems shows you how to eat among the various “food groups” and how much from each group you need for a balanced diet. For example, both are in total agreement that fifty percent of each meal should be made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, that almost all of your grains should be “whole grains”, and that you need to keep things like fats and sugar to minimal levels each day.
You can use these plans to determine how many servings and what serving sizes apply to your age, gender, and even your BMR.
For example, let’s say you are a woman of 40 who wants to drop some weight. You would calculate your BMR and find out the number of calories you need each day to hold your current weight. You would then decide the total size of the deficit you will use each day (around 200 calories is good) and design your daily eating plan based on that.
You could visit the Eatwell Plate website to see the suggested foods and serving sizes for your age and gender and just jot down the foods you will eat during each day. Using whole foods rather than processed foods is a great way to ensure the best results since you would take the most nutrition from anything that you ate throughout the day!
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.