So far, we have been looking at the theory of nutrition, but now it’s time to put it into practice!
As I have said before, there is no area of nutrition more important than macronutrient balance, but it is difficult to achieve and so it’s often overlooked. However, if you want to achieve long-term health and weight control, then place your attention on balancing your macros (protein, fat & carbs). Once you get this right, the finer nutritional recommendations, such as choosing wholemeal products over white products, will simply enhance your progress further.
To understand macro-balance, let’s start by looking at my dinner last night. This meal consisted of 2 organic (outdoor reared) sausages, 280g of stir-fry veg and ½ a sweetcorn.
When you analyse the macronutrient components of this dinner (which I will show you how to do at a later date), you will see that it contained 4 portions of veg, 1 portion of protein, 2¼ portions of fat and less than 2 portions of carbs. So, was this a good choice?
When considering if a meal is healthy or not, you first need to understand that it is almost impossible to continuously achieve a perfect meal/diet, due to the large number of variables that there are to consider. Therefore, the aim is not to strive for perfection, but instead to increase your understanding, and gradually adjust your meals so that they adhere roughly to the macronutrient recommendations.
Just to remind you, here are the macronutrient recommendations for dinner, depending on your gender and whether you wish to maintain your weight (healthy living) or lose weight (weight loss).
So, with these recommendations in mind, let’s now consider the pros and cons of my dinner last night:
Veg - The quantity of veg in this meal is spot on for weight-loss and exceeds the healthy living recommendations.
Carbs - With no additional carbs (other than the veg) the carb intake of this meal is perfect for both weight-loss and healthy living.
Protein - Although the sausages were organic and outdoor reared, they are still a ‘processed meat’ and so should only be eaten occasionally. Personally, I eat sausages less than once a month.
Fat – The fat in this meal is predominantly saturated, from the sausages and ghee. As too much saturated fat (especially from animal sources) is harmful to your cardiovascular system, it is recommended to moderate these food sources.
Protein/Fat Ratio – The protein source (sausage) is higher in fat than other meat products. This makes it difficult to achieve the protein goal without exceeding the fat recommendation. The net result is either too little protein (which affects muscle mass) or too much fat (which will result in fat-gain, rather than fat-loss).
In summary, all that veg essentially makes this dinner a healthy choice. However, BEWARE because this dinner is low in protein and high in saturated fat. This meal is healthy enough to eat occasionally, but if your dinner choices contain this level of imbalance too often, then it will hinder your health and weight-loss goals.
BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy, memBANT, memNT, memCNCH
For more information on health and weight loss see ‘The Meta-Keto Diet’. This book is available as an eBook (£6.99), or in paperback (£15.99), via the Secret Healthy Eater Shop; www.secrethealthyeater.com/shop.
drawing by pigwire
photos/graphics by victoria baker