Food is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy and healthy life for any person. At all ages it is essential to follow a balanced diet, in which all kinds of nutrients are ingested and adapted to the needs of each life stage. In this article we are going to discover the main characteristics of a balanced diet so that you can design one for yourself and adapt it to your tastes and preferences. Learn to take care of yourself right away and enjoy a healthier and healthier life.
What is a balanced diet
When we talk about a balanced diet we are referring to eating in a healthy and varied way. It is a type of diet in which the intake of any food is not dispensed with, but the diet is simply organized to be nourished and in perfect condition.
A balanced diet is a healthy diet. For this reason, all those ingredients that are not very nutritious and that provide us with excessive amounts of fats, sugars or salts should be reduced from our weekly menu. Thus, we will bet on a natural, fresh and nutritious diet and we will reduce the consumption of industrial pastries, fast food, fried foods, salty snacks, etc.
Nutrients in a balanced diet
In order to know the characteristics of a balanced diet, it is important that, first, we know the nutrients that should be part of our diet. As we have already said, this diet is based on organizing food intake but always betting on ingredients that are nutritious and beneficial for health. And within this great definition, the following foods are included:
- Carbohydrates: it is our main source of energy. It comes from cereals, legumes and also (although to a lesser degree), from fruits and vegetables. They must be between 55 and 65% of our diet.
- Fruits and vegetables: they are a rich source of vitamins and minerals of all kinds; they also do not provide saturated fat and are rich in water. The ideal is to include 3 to 5 pieces of fruits and vegetables during our day to enjoy an organism in perfect health.
- Good fats:good fats are unsaturated and they are the ones found in ingredients such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc. These fats should be part of our diet with a presence of between 25 to 30%.
- Proteins: they come from meat, fish, dairy products, as well as legumes, which are vegetable proteins. In a balanced diet, 10-15% of the daily intake needs to be protein.
Here you can learn about the nutritional pyramid, a way of distributing food on which this balanced diet hangs.
4 characteristics of a balanced diet
In order to know what the characteristics of a balanced diet are, it is important that we take into account some key aspects of this diet. Here we discover the essential bases that will help you enjoy a balanced and healthy menu for your body.
1. Distributes nutrients well throughout the day
The first and essential thing is to bear in mind that our body does not need the same energy in the morning as at night. And is that, at the beginning of the day, we need more nutrients to be able to spend the whole day actively and energetically. At night, on the other hand, the biological needs are lower because our body prepares itself for rest. That said, you have to keep in mind a premise that will help you understand how you should distribute your food: eat breakfast like a king, eat like a prince and dinner like a beggar. By following this simple rule, you will ensure that your body is treated as required.
2. The ideal nutrients for every moment
Since we do not need the same energy load in the morning as in the evening, the food groups should not be the same either. Here we discover what ingredients are recommended to include depending on the time of day in which we are:
- Breakfast rich in carbohydrates: High carbohydrate intake that should be accompanied by fruits, vegetables and proteins)
- Mid-morning: Fruits
- Protein-rich meal:High protein intake that is accompanied by vegetables and few carbohydrates
- Snack: Fruits
- Vegetable dinner:Predominance of vegetables accompanying proteins. Carbohydrates are best limited to the maximum at night. In this other article we tell you how to make light dinners.
3. Healthy fats, essential in your balanced diet
Another characteristic of a balanced diet is that you include the presence of good fats in your diet. Nowadays there seems to be a “war” against fats and, the truth is that it is necessary to differentiate very well which are the good ones from the bad ones.
The good fats are unsaturated and we find them in foods such as avocados, olive oil, oily fish, and so on. It has to be part of our diet because they help us keep our heart system nourished and in optimal condition. On the other hand, the bad fats are saturated and transgenic from sweets, fried foods, processed foods, fast-food, etc. and these are the ones that must be eliminated.
4. The amount of food consumption per week
Another of the key points to be able to make a balanced diet is to know what the ideal consumption per day or per week is. There are some foods that, due to their nutritional contribution, have to be taken daily and others that, however, have to be taken in a more controlled way. Here we detail the main food groups so that you can prepare your balanced diet in a concise way:
- Dairy: 2 or 3 servings a day
- Meats: 4 or 5 times a week
- Fish: 3 or 4 times a week
- Eggs. 3 or 4 times a week
- Legumes and nuts:1 or 2 servings a day
- Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings a day
- Fruits: 2 to 5 servings a day
- Cereals (carbohydrates): 3 to 8 servings per day
Of course, with the consumption of carbohydrates you have to be careful if what you want is to control weight and silhouette. It is best to avoid processed carbohydrates and always opt for its integral version since it has a greater nutritional contribution. In addition, we should not take them at night because our body does not need this energy injection.
Guidelines for a healthy diet
In addition to the main characteristics of the balanced diet that we have just indicated, it is convenient that you also know other keys to be able to enjoy a healthy diet. Today, there are many products in our diet that provide us with a large number of fats and, therefore, it is important to limit their consumption to the maximum.
Here we discover some of the dietary guidelines to have a healthy diet every day:
- Reduce the consumption of animal fat:cold cuts, processed meats or red meat are foods rich in animal fats. Therefore, it is recommended that you reduce your consumption and that you bet on lean meats since they are lighter and healthier.
- Moderate soft drinks:The consumption of sugary soft drinks is also being a social scourge. In fact, in countries like the USA there is an increase in obesity cases and, in part, it is due to the consumption of soft drinks rich in sugars. You can go for the light version to reduce sugar, but they are not healthy for the body anyway. Otherwise, you’d better choose to prepare a homemade smoothie or fruit juice and enjoy a healthy and delicious drink.
- Skimmed dairy: milk, yogurt, cheeses, etc. can be part of your balanced diet. However, to reduce the presence of fat, nothing better than opting for the skimmed version, which provides you with the same proteins, but reduces the presence of fat as much as possible.
- Drink 2 liters of water a day:to ensure that your body eliminates the presence of liquids and is hydrated nothing better than drinking 2 liters of water a day. With this you will improve the functioning of your body and, in addition, reduce fluid retention as well as cellulite.
- Eliminate sweets and sugars: itis recommended to eliminate or minimize the consumption of sugary foods or pastries. They are foods rich in fats and sugars that hardly provide us with nutrients, therefore, it is better that they are not part of our diet.
- Watch the amounts: in order to have a balanced diet it is essential that you eat what you need. Excess food can lead to overweight and obesity because you have to eat what your body will burn. No more any less. Practicing daily exercise will also help you enjoy a healthier life and a fat-free body.
Recommended Intakes of Energy and Nutrients
In this chart, we see the energy needs separated by age categories. These have been prepared by the Nutrition Department of the Completeness University of Madrid and are calculated for moderate activity.
For light activity reduce energy needs by 10% and for high activity increase them by 20%. You can also see our article on how many calories should I eat each day according to age.