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Day 15: Food as Fuel

Our body needs food as fuel in much the same way as a car engine needs fuel. Put the wrong fuel in a car and you have a problem….the same is true for your body.

As our body processes food it releases the different nutrients that our body needs to fuel its many functions: everything from the energy to move around, growth and repair of our tissues and organs, healthy functioning of the nervous system and so on.

There are three main food groups known as macronutrients. These are:

  • Carbohydrates which provide energy and fuel the brain and the nervous system.
  • Protein needed for repair of tissue, building muscle, supporting the immune system and for making essential hormones and enzymes.
  • Fat is necessary for storage and providing energy, for normal cell function and for the absorption and storage of vitamins A, D, E and K.

One of the reasons that ‘weight loss diets’ may not work is because they promote one particular macronutrient and/or demonise another. Whilst our bodies and our energy needs may be different, we all need a balance of each of these food groups maintain a healthy body.

How to get a healthy balance

We may know the basics of healthy eating but that doesn’t mean we’re doing it.  Try to incorporate items from each of the following groups into each meal to improve the balance of your diet.

Good healthy carbs include fruit and vegetables which also provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But beware, there’s a big difference between eating a whole fruit and drinking  fruit juice which has a higher sugar load. Other carbs include cereals, pasta, bread and rice but opt for whole grains and unrefined foodstuffs if possible.

Proteins may be found from animal sources: meat, poultry fish, eggs and cheese or plant sources: beans, peas, lentils, soy, tofu, nuts.

Fats are generally grouped according to three groupings:

  1. monounsaturated fats: avocado, olive oil, olives, peanut butter, almonds, cashews, peanuts
  2. polyunsaturated fats: corn or sunflower oil, seeds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, margarine
  3. saturated fats: butter, cream, cheese, bacon, palm oil, coconut oil

Aim mainly for fats from groups 1 and 2 with less from group 3.

If you’d like help with understanding, tracking or changing your diet without the need for a diet plan full of difficult to follow rules then do get in touch.

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