By Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND, Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training
In order to look and feel your best, your body needs a complex blend of nutrients. Not only do you need the right proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, but you also need adequate fluids to stay hydrated, and a good dose of fiber, too. That’s a tall order, and even the most careful eater can be hard-pressed to meet each nutrient target every day.
This is why our Herbalife Nutrition Philosophy is based on balanced nutrition — a combination of healthy foods and supplements that help you meet your daily needs, coupled with the right calorie balance to help you lose, gain or maintain your body weight.
7 Essential Elements for a Balanced Nutrition Plan
At Herbalife Nutrition, we believe that good health lies in eating the right foods, combined with regular exercise and rest. A proper, balanced nutrition will help fuel your daily activities and promote a lifetime of wellness.
Here are seven elements of a balanced diet:
Protein is a macronutrient vital to virtually every cell in the body. You use protein to manufacture important molecules, such as hormones and enzymes, and to build and maintain muscle tissue. Protein is also great at satisfying hunger.
Your body is constantly assembling, breaking down and using protein, so it’s important to include enough protein in your diet every day to replace what you’ve used. We suggest that up to 30% of your daily calorie intake come from lean plant or animal protein, such as soybeans, poultry, fish and eggs.
Your body prefers another micronutrient, carbohydrates, for its fuel, so it’s important to get enough every day. We recommend that you get about 40% of your calories from whole grain, bean, vegetable, and fruit carbs—not the sugary, starchy kinds you find in baked goods, soda, and candy.
Your body also requires small amounts of beneficial fats—but don’t go hog wild just yet; you’re probably getting enough. The typical American diet supplies more total fat and saturated fat than we need, and not enough healthy fats, such as fats from fish, nuts, olive oil and avocados.
Fats are a very concentrated source of calories, which is why the Herbalife Nutrition Philosophy recommends that you limit your fats to 30% or less of your daily calorie intake.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are involved in many of the chemical reactions your body performs every day, and many minerals—calcium and magnesium, for example—have structural roles in the body. A well-balanced diet helps to supply the vitamins and minerals you need, and taking a daily multiple vitamin and mineral supplement helps you get the proper amounts.
Plant foods produce a wide range of natural compounds called phytonutrients. They contain a number of benefits, such as preventing disease, enhancing immunity, and repairing DNA damage. Their pigments give fruits and vegetables their beautiful colors. That’s why it’s important to eat colorful, plant-filled meals.
Fiber supports the digestive process, helps to fill you up, and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. Whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are the best sources of dietary fiber, but if you can’t get the recommended 25 grams every day, you can work in fiber supplements.
The human body is 70% water, so it’s no surprise that we need to stay hydrated in order to remain healthy. Your body needs water to transport nutrients to cells and to get rid of waste products. Water also helps control body temperature and lubricate joints, organs and tissues.
Most of the chemical reactions in the body take place in water, too. The general recommendation for fluids is about eight 8-oz (240mL) glasses a day. Water should be the first choice, but plain tea or coffee can also count towards meeting your daily fluid needs.
Putting it Together and Balancing Your Calories
The idea of calorie balance – balancing those you eat and those you burn – is fairly straightforward. “Calories in” are the total calories that you take in from all the foods and beverages you consume. “Calories out” are all the calories your body burns each day – a combination of the calories it takes for your body to perform its most basic functions (also known as your resting metabolic rate) and the calories that you expend through exercise and activity.
If the calories you eat are balanced with the calories you burn, your weight should stay stable. But, if you tend to eat more calories than you burn, the scale will tip towards weight gain. If you tend to eat fewer calories than you burn, your weight will drop.
When it comes to balancing calories, you have control over both sides of the calorie equation. You can regulate how much goes in by counting the calories in the foods that you eat, and you can control – at least in part – how many calories you burn every day by staying active. So, whether your goal is to lose, gain or maintain your weight, the power to tip the balance is in your hands.