What you eat has the single biggest influence on how you look. As the saying goes, you cannot out-train a bad diet. However, with so many diet products on the market and conflicting information in the media, it can be difficult to know what foods are good for your physique and your health – and which ones will do more harm than good.
We have already explained how to calculate your daily caloric needs here, and even suggested an ideal macronutrient ratio. But what foods are the best for your body?
The human diet has been evolving over the past century, however, unfortunately not for the better. Since processed foods and fast food were introduced, there are more sicknesses, allergies and incidences of being overweight than ever before. Rather than improving the quality of food, food developers have instead focused on boosting profits by increasing the speed of food delivery.
Foods which have a long shelf life often have the lowest production cost. However, these foods are also the lowest in nutritional value. Many of these foods contain extensive ingredients lists with difficult to pronounce ingredients. Furthermore, many people fall into the trap of thinking that labels such as ‘low-fat’ and ‘gluten-free’ equate to health, but that is simply not true.
Some general rules to think of when shopping include sticking to the outside perimeter of the grocery store, where all the fresh food is kept; avoiding anything that comes in a package, especially if it contains more than five ingredients; and never buying anything which has an ingredient your great-grandparents would not have heard of.
In terms of protein sources, the best options are lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish, eggs, and dairy products such as yoghurt and cottage cheese. Although it is more expensive, organic produce is the best choice for your health – otherwise, you will be ingesting the same hormones that have been pumped into the animals.
If you have difficulty in consuming enough protein through whole sources, a protein powder supplement may be used. Choose a brand with the least amount of artificial ingredients as possible and highest percentage of protein per gram.
For carbohydrates, stick to minimally processed options such as sweet potato, fruit, brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal. Healthy sources of fat include nuts, nut butters, oils, avocados and seeds.
One final note is that more people are sensitive to grains and dairy than they realise, so consume such options listed above with caution. Humans have only been eating grains and dairy for less than 1 per cent of their existence. Consequently, it is estimated that as much as 75 per cent of the general population is gluten and lactose intolerant!
Many people benefit from temporarily eliminating such foods from their diet and report an increase in energy and natural improvement in physical appearance. Eat natural whole foods that come from plants and animals for just a few weeks, and you will be hard-pressed to return to a lifestyle of packaged foods!