What is the Ideal Diet Plan?

What is an ideal diet program? This question has plagued mankind for many years now, and while nutritionists, dieticians, and fitness experts have provided some options, some have accepted them while others have debunked them. If you’ve taken time to hear out many of them, lend an ear here too:

What combination of fats, proteins, and carbs would lead to lose/gain weight and maintain good health in the process?

Some of the most famous dieticians would advocate achieving a balance of nutrients, without resorting to crash dieting. This is to avoid loss of lean muscle (which increases BMR), loss of bone mineral density (which weakens the bones), and nutrient deficiencies. But, achieving that kind of balance can be tough if the basics are not right.

Trying to find the right diet program can be a challenge, given the array of diets and programs available. Many diets advocate restriction or avoiding specific nutrient groups but several of these claims lack scientific evidence and may lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long term. An ideal and safe diet program is one that aims to preserve overall health and is flexible as well as sustainable. Current research-based data lends the strongest support to balanced diets that provide the recommended amount of nutrients without excluding any food group.

The Right Proportion of Nutrients

Weight loss is all about balancing the body’s calorie input and output. To lose 1 pound in a week, you would need to burn 3,500 calories, which means 500 calories a day. While creating a calorie deficit, it is important to keep the proportion of nutrients right. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults should get 45-65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat and 10-35% from protein.

Pump Up the Proteins

Protein is not only essential for the growth and repair of body cells, but also for muscle building. Muscle mass boosts the BMR and further aids in weight loss. The recommended dietary allowance for both men and women in the ideal body-mass-grm-index range is 0.8 gm of good-quality protein per Kg of body weight daily. Lean proteins such as non-fat milk, egg whites, chicken, fish or cooked lentils provide good-quality proteins while supplying fewer calories than higher-fat versions.

Add Up the Vitamins

A diet that meets the RDA for proteins and calories also meets the requirements for vitamins. B complex vitamins are available from whole grain cereals and lean meats, while fresh fruits and vegetables are rich sources of most other vitamins, such as vitamins C and A. Since cooking destroys most water-soluble vitamins, fruits and vegetables are best eaten raw, but after a thorough wash. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Nutrition Institute of India (NIN) suggest two to three servings of vegetables and 2 1/2 to three servings of fruit each day for adults to meet the requirements.

Maximize the Minerals

It is easy to get most minerals from your diet since they are widely distributed. Of special interest are calcium and iron, since deficiencies of these are more prevalent. Natural, rich sources of calcium are most dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. About 8 ounces of milk, yogurt or soy milk meet 30-40% of the day’s calcium needs. Fortified cereals, fruit juices, spinach, and kale are good options for vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant. Including about 3 ounces of lean beef, oysters, clams, and turkey can ensure that you get 30% of the daily value for iron. Vegans could meet their target for iron by eating 1 cup of fortified cereals or 2 cups of boiled soybeans.

Plan Your Healthy Plate

For a nutritionally-balanced diet, control the portion size of the serving. Visual cues can help in controlling portions. A smart and easy way to build a healthy plate is provided by the USDA’s MyPlate. It depicts a plate and glass divided into five food groups – grains and vegetables occupy 30% each of the plate, while fruits and proteins cover 20% each. Adding a low-fat dairy such as skim milk or yogurt to the plate would complete the nutrition checklist.

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