A simple rule: Meals should be mixed using the energy giving macronutrients equally in right combinations, choosing the most nutritious healthy variants only, like in the plate below. Avoiding at all costs meals high in simple high GI carbohydrates.
Essentially, you can eat meals that combine protein, mostly complex carbs and various fats in equal amounts. But when you can't pull this off, remember the total, and make sure that your day has this equal amount combination.
Eating protein is what helps you build muscle and recover from intense physical activity; it is also good for a decent thermic (calorie burning) effect during digestion. Mixing simple carbs and unhealthy fats (too much polyunsaturated omega-6 oils or human-made trans fats) is what makes the lard stick to your thighs and/or abdomen.
When you eat high protein foods (chicken breast, tuna, fish, etc) the digestive process breaks down the protein chains into amino acids.
The amino acids enter the bloodstream and are transformed into more than 50,000 new body proteins. There are 10 essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own. The body also cannot store excess amino acids the way it can carbohydrates and fat (remember, stored carbs and fats = body fat) So you must supply your body with adequate amount of protein EVERY time you eat.
The problems begin when you eat a meal that is too high in carbs (bagels, juice, pasta). This is because too much glucose enters the bloodstream too rapidly. A high-carb meal stimulates a biochemical response that forces your body to burn glucose rather than stored body fat as its main source of fuel.
The best advice is to eat carbs that are low in starch and sugar and high in fiber. Some examples are apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, oatmeal, rye, wild rice, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta and yams. Balance of carbs to protein is very important: A 1 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein is recommended.
Stored 'body fat' is the body's preferred source of energy. Total fat should not exceed 35% of the total daily calories. Out of this 35% half should be saturated (coconut oil, fatty meat cuts, butter, milk) and half unsaturated whith an equal distribution of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Among the polyunsaturated your best bet is a 1:1 combination of omega-3 and omega-6 oils.
The good fats are unprocessed and occur naturally in foods. The bad fats are called trans fats, the ones made by humans. They contain unhealthy trans fatty acids and are found in hydrogenated unsaturated oils. (check your margarine labels, cookie and cracker packages)
- Eat relatively high protein meals mixed with vegetables and decide whether the rest will be mostly healthy fats OR mostly healthy carbohydrates. The end result througout the day should be a balanced intake of all three macronutrients.
- Remember that the source of our calories counts. Whether they come from fat, protein, or carbs we always need to be sure to use moderation when choosing portion sizes, even when eating fat-reduced or low-carb meals.
- Eating a lower calorie, higher protein, higher healthy fat, lower processed carb kind of diet is one sure way to stay healthy and lose weight. This is the type of lifestyle that can be permanent and effective!
The ideal diet (a third of total energy from fatty acids)
An ideal diet should combine the three macronutrients in equal amounts (speaking in terms of energy). That would mean that a third of the calories consumed should come from proteins (mostly from vegetable origin like legumes, otherwise eggs, sea food, fowl and pork if you care for the environment), a third from carbohydrates (mostly vegetables and legumes, otherwise some fruit and fiber rich whole grains, trying to avoid all simple, low-GI types) and a third from fat (saturated and unsaturated, 50/50 for balance). This is the core of The Spanimax Nutrition Method.
Other nutritionists see it much differently. Because of radical ideas, they tend to alter this natural balance and get inclined to put one of the three macronutrients ahead of the others. In The Spanimax Institute's opinion, based on sound scientific evidence, all three energy-giving macronutrients are equally important for health and should be ingested accordingly.
Here is a great calorie calculator if you want to find out how many grams of each nutrient you will be needing. Just fill in 33-33-34, which is the closer you can come there to The Spanimax Method's combination:
Other articles in this series:
- Intro to nutrition - Macronutrients
- Fatty acids: A revolution
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