Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.
You must’ve heard that you are what you eat, and it can’t be more true. Healthy eating has many benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced cancer risk, better gut health, lower diabetes risk, weight management, and more. In fact, research published in PLOS Medicine showed that healthy eating could increase life expectancy by over ten years.
But what exactly is healthy eating? What foods should you eat, and which ones should you entirely avoid? How to strike the perfect balance between carbs, proteins, fats, and other nutrients? The internet is filled with tips and advice on healthy eating, but there is still a lot of confusion regarding what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Therefore, we decided to create a one-stop guide on healthy eating. This guide contains 10 tips to help you create the best diet to lose weight.
Here’s a quick sneak peek into the tips:
- Drink a lot of water
- Cut down your sugar intake
- Incorporate proteins into your diet
- Embrace healthy fats, but watch out for unhealthy ones
- Replace refined carbs with whole carbs
- Boost your fiber intake
- Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals
- Avoid liquid calories
- It’s okay to have cheat meals
- Drink alcohol in moderation
Without further adieu, let’s get started.
Drink a lot of water
Water is a magic liquid because of its substantial benefits and ease of availability. It improves metabolism, maintains the balance of fluids, controls calories, enhances skin, energizes muscles, and improves kidney and bowel function.
Now, how much water should you drink in a day? Here’s what the US National Academics recommends:
- 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) of fluids per day for men
- 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) of fluids per day for women
Please note that “fluids” comprise water and liquids from food and other drinks. However, most of your fluid intake should come from water.
Pro tip: Don’t drink a lot of water at once. Instead, drink small amounts throughout the day.
Cut down on your sugar intake
If you were to eliminate one ingredient from your diet, let it be sugar. Added sugar is one of the unhealthiest ingredients, and it’s consumed worldwide in colossal amounts.
First, let’s understand why sugar is so unhealthy. It has no proteins, vitamins, or minerals, so it has zero nutritional value. You’re consuming nothing but large amounts of bad calories when you intake sugar.
Sugar consumption is the leading cause of weight gain and obesity. It also adversely affects your metabolism and contributes to diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, and certain cancers.
It’s best to avoid sugar altogether, but if you can’t do that, at least limit your sugar intake. According to AHA, the daily intake of added sugar should be no more than 24 grams (100 calories) for women and 36 grams (150 calories) for men. And if you have a sweet tooth, opt for foods containing natural and less harmful sugar alternatives like fruit purées, honey, maple syrup, and yacon syrup.
Incorporate proteins into your diet
Proteins are no less than a superfood, and they have numerous science-backed benefits. Research published in Oxford Academic concluded that increasing protein intake by just 0.1g/kg of body weight per day can help maintain and increase muscle and lean body mass.
Furthermore, research published by the National Library of Medicine showed that consuming high-protein diets improves appetite and body weight management and reduces cardiometabolic risk factors.
So, add more proteins to create the best diet to lose weight, with the recommended intake being 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day.
You can get protein from both vegan and non-vegan sources.
Vegan protein sources
|Green peas||8.58 grams|
Non-vegan protein sources
|Lean meats (beef, lamb, pork, etc.)||23-24 grams|
|Poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, etc.)||22-30 grams|
|Seafood (fish, lobster, prawns, etc.)||20-25 grams|
|Dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.)||1-25 grams|
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Embrace healthy fats, but watch out for unhealthy ones
Fats often get a bad rep. Just because they’re called “fats,” many people think fats cause weight gain. Hence, many people cut down their fat intake to lose weight.
Not all fats are unhealthy, and healthy fats can actually help you lose weight.
First, let’s understand what healthy and unhealthy fats are.
Fats are of three types:
- Unsaturated fats
- Saturated fats
- Trans fats
Unsaturated fats are healthy. They improve blood cholesterol levels, and they’re good for your heart. They also reduce inflammation and provide other health benefits.
Unsaturated fats are of two types:
- Monounsaturated fats — found in avocados, nuts, olive, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
- Polyunsaturated fats — found in walnuts, flax seeds, fish, sunflower, soybean, etc.
– Omega-3 fats (type of polyunsaturated fats) — found in fish, walnuts, and soybeans
Saturated fats, if consumed in large amounts, can be unhealthy and increase your risk of heart disease. Thus, saturated fats shouldn’t make more than 7-10% of your daily calorie intake.
Some sources of saturated fats are:
- Meat products (beef, bacon, sausage)
- Fat milk
Trans fats are the most harmful, especially industrial trans fats. They’re terrible for your heart and blood vessels, as they increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce good cholesterol (HDL). They also contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance. Some sources of trans fat are packaged foods, commercial baked goods, frozen pizza, etc.
All in all, the best diet to lose weight should have no trans fats, limited saturated fats, and good amounts of unsaturated fats.
Replace refined carbs with whole carbs
Like fats, carbs also get a bad rep, especially among people trying to lose weight. Carbs are rich in calories, and your body needs calories to function. Eating healthy carbs in adequate amounts can boost your energy levels. However, it’s the unhealthy carbs you need to avoid.
Refined carbs are unhealthy and harmful. These include all types of refined sugars and grains. Since they’re refined, they have no fiber and other nutrients. Their nutritional value is 0, and they only provide high amounts of unhealthy calories that increase your body fat.
Therefore, refined carbs are a no-no for the best diet to lose weight.
You can replace refined carbs with complex carbohydrates and whole grains. These include oats, whole-wheat flour, barley, and quinoa. You can also add veggies rich in carbs, like sweet potatoes and carrots, to your diet.
Boost your fiber intake
Dietary fiber, also called roughage, is a non-digestible carbohydrate. It mainly comprises polysaccharides and is found in plant-based foods. Research highlights several benefits of dietary fiber, including improved digestion, colonic health, gut motility, metabolic health, and cardiovascular health.
Therefore, you should eat food rich in fiber. The recommended daily fiber intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Some excellent sources of dietary fiber are:
|Food||Fiber (per 100 grams)|
|Brown rice||1-4 grams|
|Whole grains||7 grams|
Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that perform various functions in the body, like strengthening the immune system, healing wounds, and promoting bone health. Other benefits include healthy teeth, reduced birth defects, and better cellular health. Furthermore, the deficiency of vitamins and minerals could cause conditions like scurvy, blindness, and rickets.
Hence, it’s essential to add vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Some widely known vitamins are A, B(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12), C, D, E, and K.
The following table lists all the vitamins and their natural sources.
|Vitamin A||Beef, eggs, spinach, pumpkins, carrots|
|Seeds, ham, grains, pork chop
Dairy products, whole grains
Poultry, fish, mushrooms, grains
Legumes, chicken, broccoli, grains
Cereals and soy products
Fruits and meats
Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products
|Vitamin C||Citrus fruits and juices|
|Vitamin D||Dairy products and sunlight|
|Vitamin E||Cereals, leafy greens, seeds, nuts|
|Vitamin K||Dark green leafy veggies, turnip|
Similarly, there are various minerals in the human body, and their deficiency can cause diseases. For example, the deficiency of Iodine causes goiter, a condition characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland.
The following table contains 13 essential elements and their natural sources.
|Calcium||Dairy, cashew, broccoli, dates|
|Potassium||Bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes|
|Chloride||Table salt, celery, lettuce, tomatoes|
|Magnesium||Leafy greens, nuts, legumes|
|Phosphorous||Poultry, meats, beans, nuts, dairy|
|Iodine||Iodized table salt|
|Iron||Leafy greens, chicken, pork, beef|
|Zinc||Red meat, poultry, whole grains|
|Copper||Liver, shellfish, chocolate|
|Manganese||Soybeans, nuts, whole grains|
|Sulfur||Seafood and legumes|
|Selenium||Seafood, organ meats, Brazil nuts|
Avoid liquid calories
Beverages like sports drinks (energy drinks), caffeine beverages, fruit juices, and sodas are gaining popularity nowadays. The per capita soft drink consumption in the US alone is expected to be 39.6 gallons in 2022.
Energy drinks and many other soft drinks have caffeine, which boosts alertness and athletic performance. But they also contain harmful ingredients like added sugar, artificial flavors, and synthetic colors. Hence, these drinks can do more harm than good, and it’s better to avoid them.
Even fruit juices contain high amounts of added sugar, which contributes to unhealthy weight gain.
If you need a dose of caffeine, replace energy drinks with real coffee. Coffee is healthier than energy drinks, and it has research-proven health benefits like a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you can’t ditch fruit juices, opt for natural fruit juices that don’t contain artificial sweeteners. This way, you’ll get healthy fruit juices without those unhealthy calories.
It’s okay to have cheat meals
If you follow all the tips discussed above, you’ll likely find yourself on a strict diet with little to no scope for eating your favorite fast foods like burgers, pizzas, ice creams, pasta, french fries, etc.
Here’s where cheat meals come into the picture. Cheat meals allow you to break your dieting rules and eat whatever you want.
One of the major reasons to incorporate cheat meals into your diet is to reward yourself for eating healthy all week. For many people, cheat meals can act as a motivation to continue adhering to a strict diet.
Additionally, cheat meals have science-backed benefits. They help reset your hormones, revive glycogen levels, and improve insulin regulation and metabolism.
That said, it’s essential to plan your cheat meals. Having too many of them will negate their purpose and ruin your best diet to lose weight. While most experts recommend one cheat meal per week, you can have up to three per week, depending on your diet and weight loss goals.
Pro tip: Have cheat meals instead of cheat days (whole day of eating cheat meals), as cheat days can dramatically increase your calorie intake, and they’re also bad for your gut.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if any
Alcohol is harmful to health, and you should not drink it. But if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Consuming large amounts of alcohol causes inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which hinders digestion and causes digestion problems. It also damages the liver, a gland that plays a pivotal role in digestion.
Other adverse effects of alcohol on the digestive system are:
- Feeling of fullness
- Abdominal pain
- Painful stools
- Hemorrhoids and ulcers
If you drink alcohol in moderation, you are less likely to face these issues.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderate alcohol consumption as:
- 1 or fewer drinks a day for women
- 2 or fewer drinks a day for men
Follow the best diet to lose weight
Eating a healthy diet is crucial, and the benefits of healthy eating go beyond maintaining losing weight or gaining lean mass. Good eating habits can ensure optimum health of all your organs and help you live a disease-free life. The benefits of a good and sustainable diet are prolonged, and it can add extra years to your life.
Many people overcomplicate healthy eating. In reality, it’s all about eating healthy foods and eliminating (or at least reducing) unhealthy ones. Follow the tips discussed above to redefine your eating habits and stick to a healthy diet. And don’t forget to incorporate some cheat meals into your diet to motivate yourself to keep going.
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