Eating smart is more than just eating healthy, you want to make every bite of food you put in your mouth count. That means building your diet around the most potent, nutrient-dense, disease-fighting, muscle-growing foods around.
So what are the most important foods you should include in your diet for maximum fitness?
There are some simple rules to follow like getting your five-a-day, including three servings of whole-grains and choosing more fish, poultry and less red meat while opting for low-fat dairy foods. But that’s not the whole story – how much should you be eating and when is the best time to eat protein, carbs or fats?
Nutritional needs vary depending on your sex, size, age and activity levels so use this chart as a general guide only. The chart shows the daily amounts recommended for a healthy, balanced diet for maintaining rather than losing or gaining weight.
Balance is the key to smart eating so follow a healthy eating plan featuring lean protein, vegetables and whole-grains. Don’t skip breakfast; avoid overeating at meals and aim for at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables every day. Choose low-fat protein sources. Eat less red meat and more chicken, turkey and pork. Try to eat fish at least two times a week or plant-based proteins like tofu, beans and peas. Add in heart-healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds and avocado.
Healthy eating can keep your body and mind sharp and extend quality of life so it is another reason to eat smart. Older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to help maintain strong and healthy bones. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat and fat-free dairy like milk and yogurt, fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones. Fiber helps keep bowel functions normal and is good for your heart; good sources are whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Increasing potassium intake along with decreasing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Choose low-sodium foods and replace salt with other herbs and spices to reduce your sodium intake.