All the food we consume comprises of four main nutrient groups: carbohydrates, protein, fibre and fat. Live to 100 takes a closer look at the essential building blocks of a healthy diet.
The majority of fad diets claim that cutting out a major food group from your regime will lead to a healthier life. The Atkins diet advises participants to cut out carbs; the ketogenic diet involves increasing fat consumption; the low-fat diet advises to eliminate fats. With such conflicting messages, it’s hard to know which method to follow. Live to 100 takes a look at the major food groups to see what may help or hinder you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Are carbohydrates really the ‘demon’ that extreme dieters make them out to be? There are several reasons why carbohydrates have a bad reputation, but you don’t need to avoid carbs altogether in order to have a healthy diet. In reality, carbohydrates are an essential source of energy. They can be found in a great variety of food such as bread, pasta, fruit, vegetables and legumes. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice as these may take less time to digest and leave you feeling hungrier than usual.
Where carbohydrates have been demonised, proteins have been glorified. There are an incredible amount of products on the market to help you add more protein to your diet. This is because protein is the building block of healthy bones, blood and skin and aids in the wound-healing process.
It also helps to build and maintain muscles, which is why it has been lauded by bodybuilders for decades. The UK government’s dietary guidelines state that men only need 55.5 grams and women 45 grams of protein per day. Include sources such as meat, fish, eggs or beans and legumes with every meal.
Those who do a lot of exercise are advised to consume the recommended amount of protein every day to prevent muscle deterioration.
According to NHS Choices, on average, people in the UK don’t eat the daily recommended amount of fibre. It is advised that individuals eat around 30 grams per day, but most people tend to only eat around 18 grams. Fibre is key to a healthy, balanced diet as it may go some way in preventing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Fibre can be found in plant-based products such as fruits, vegetables and grains.
This food group is not actually digested or absorbed by the body, meaning that it will reduce the risk of constipation and leave you feeling fuller for longer.
Say the word ‘fat’ and it makes people want to run for the hills. Surely fat can’t be good for you? There are three types of fat to be conscious of: saturated fat, unsaturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat and trans fat are found in unhealthy, processed foods such as cakes and some types of meat—try to limit your intake of these foods where possible. Good fat is actually essential in providing the body with energy and aiding it in the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A, D, K and E. Include a good amount of unsaturated fat in your diet by eating fatty fish (like salmon), avocados and nuts.