Published: 11/15/2015 - Updated: 12/27/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Our bodies consume a certain amount of energy throughout the day in order to function. This energy comes from our foods, without which, we couldn’t live. But it’s not just as simple as that.
In addition to energy from calories, we need other substances not only to live, but to maintain good health. This all depends on certain factors that can be summed up in two words: healthy diet.
Let’s start by talking about how much energy the body needs. In order to explain this in simple terms, often times you’ll hear the analogy of the human body related to a car. Looking at it from a minimalist perspective, you can compare the two.
A car needs gas in order to move. But in order to work, it also needs to transform this chemical energy (gas) into movement.
Something similar happens in the body, but it’s a lot more surprising. The foods that we consume (our fuel) are transformed into the energy we need to live and to perform all of our activities. This comes out to an average of 2000 calories a day. This is the same amount of energy required to keep a 100 watt light bulb burning for nearly 24 consecutive hours!
So, what foods provide this amount of calories for well-being?
The famous 2,000 calorie diet
We don’t want to promote the use of any particular diet, but we do want to provide you with information that can help you improve your diet.
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You’ve probably heard of this diet before. But the truth is, there’s nothing irregular about it. The idea is to balance your food consumption, and try to stay around 2,000 calories a day.
You should also drink enough water and/or green tea, with a recommended 2 servings of fruit, 8 servings of vegetables, 7 servings of grain, 3 dairy servings, 8 meat and 8 legume servings a day. But…where does all that food fit?
First of all, your meals should be broken down into 5 small servings a day, rather than 3. And secondly, one portion is not a plate-full of food.
To give you an idea, here is a list of foods and their respective calories per serving:
1 medium apple = 125
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4 asparagus shoots = 15
1 avocado = 305
1 banana = 105
85 grams lean, grilled steak = 205
1 cup blackberries = 75
1 cup broccoli = 45
1 cup cabbage = 30
1/2 cantaloupe = 95
1 carrot = 30
1 stalk of celery = 5
10 cherries = 50
85 grams grilled chicken breast = 140
125 grams fried chicken breast = 369
1 ear yellow sweet corn = 85
1 cup crab = 135
6 slices of cucumber = 5
1 fried egg = 90
1 hard boiled egg = 75
1 scrambled egg = 100
The 5 meals
Although you will continue to eat your 3 main meals, you’ll also have a small snack in between to reduce your appetite between these meals, and to help keep your metabolism more efficient.
Breakfast, for example, should include dairy and foods with carbohydrates, like bread and fruit. The advantage of this is starting the day with a good amount of foods to provide the calories you need.
Then, mid-morning you can include some dairy, like yogurt with a bit of fiber and grains. Consuming fiber helps clean the colon, improves constipation, stabilizes cholesterol and helps prevent glycemia.
You shouldn’t consume more than 450 calories for lunch. This is the time of day that you eat the most, but try combining salads you like with grilled chicken. You can have a fruit platter and lemon tea.
Then for dinner you should eat salads, purees and serve with fruit like mango or cantaloupe. Don’t forget between each meal you should eat something small.
The key to a healthy diet
Controlling the foods you eat is a good custom to have. But whenever counting calories becomes an obsession, it becomes more and more difficult to enjoy your meals.
So, what’s the key to a healthy diet? The Spanish Dietary and Food Science Society sums it up with one easy but understandable word: variety.
This idea of eating a varied diet is visible in the food pyramid. This pyramid is made up of complex carbs at the base. Said in other words, carbohydrates are what the body slowly uses, they are slowly digested. This includes pastas, rice, grains and legumes.
The following levels are made up of protein and vitamins. And then you’ll see fats and simple carbohydrates. These last foods and easily absorbed by the body, they primarily provide calories, and they should be consumed to a lesser extent.
The key to the correct diet isn’t about counting each calorie that touches your lips, but learning how to combine your foods well. If you eat a few extra calories one day, and few calories the next, it won’t make much of a difference. But if you learn to combine your foods with their respective calories in mind, you can forget about counting and start enjoying your meals. This will bring about a true change in health.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 12/27/2017
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