5 Considerations in a Healthy Diet

What matters most in nutrition? Should I eat more meals, fewer meals, or add in certain supplements? The easiest way to get yourself on track is to focus on one thing before the next, most important to the least important. The following is a list of the 5 healthy eating considerations in order from most important to least important.


TOTAL CALORIES

Total calorie intake is the most important consideration in anyone’s diet. This is what will control whether you gain weight, lose weight, or stay at a healthy weight. A Caloric Deficit will result in weight loss, a surplus will result in weight gain. Between the calorie surplus and calorie deficit is what is called maintenance. Maintenance calories is the amount of food you can eat while staying at the exact same weight. Total Calorie intake is also important for athletes as too few calories can lead to becoming under nourished, and too many will obviously lead to eating our way out of being competitive.


MACRONUTRIENT INTAKE

Macro nutrient intake is the second most important consideration in a healthy diet. These Macronutrients make up calories. Think of Total Calories being a glass of water, and macronutrients being the water in the glass. The 3 main macronutrients to make note of are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram, while fat contains 9 calories per gram. 1 gram of carbs or proteins equates to 4 calories and 1 gram of fat equates to 9 calories. The main function of carbohydrates is energy and is the preferred energy for most of the body as it is so easy to burn. Proteins is mainly used for building things such as muscle, skin cells, hair, and repairing damaged cells in the body. Fats play a role in transporting molecules inside the body as well as being a great energy source for low intensity exercise.


MICRONUTRIENT INTAKE

Micronutrients include things such as vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are used for signaling and building hormones, repairing damage, building bones, and producing energy. These vitamins are extremely important, but in most cases, if your total calorie intake is on point, as well as macronutrient intake, you should be somewhere in the ballpark of getting plenty of vitamins and minerals as they are in all foods.


MEAL TIMING AND FREQUENCY

Meal Timing and frequency is way down on the list of importance, because for most of the population, it does not really matter that much. This one normally depends on what makes you happy. If you like small, frequent meals, you should eat small and frequent meals. Meal timing is most important for athletes or those trying to gain or preserve muscle mass. To gain muscle or preserve muscle mass, it is suggested to eat roughly 20 to 30 grams of quality protein every three to five hours, as well as being in a calorie surplus.


SUPPLEMENTATION

This is the lowest on the list. If you implement the previous 4 considerations, there will be very few supplements that will yield more results. If you do not implement the previous 4 considerations, any one of the above will likely be more useful than adding in supplementation. There are some great supplements out there, but most are likely unnecessary.


Chris Still

B.S. Exercise Science

CSCS, USAW-L1SP

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