The nutrients you get from food, each have a specific purpose. Some improve the immune system, thus protecting you against harmful pathogens, while others are burned by your metabolism, used as energy to perform basic tasks. From automotive tasks like breathing and digesting, to the ability to be physically active. Understanding the intricacies of your diet is easier when breaking it down into the 4 P’s of nutrition, so let’s do so.
Protein is one of the most important building blocks in the body. Your hair and nails consist primarily of protein. It’s necessary to build and repair bodily tissues and produce enzymes, hormones as well as other bodily chemicals.
Protein makes you feel full for longer since it releases hormones while it’s being digested which reduces your appetite. This is why it’s an important nutrient to include in a diet aimed at losing weight as it leads to the consumption of fewer calories while reducing cravings for constant snacking.
The difference between weight loss and fat loss tends to be overlooked. In extreme cases of caloric deficit, that is, the shortage in the amount of calories consumed, your body will actually burn muscle mass for energy. This is obviously not the ideal outcome, however, with enough protein added to your diet, this process is prevented. With the addition of muscle training, protein can help you look fit and lean.
Protein can be found in various meats, eggs, dairy and legumes (lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, peanuts etc.). Keep in mind that it’s best to spread your protein intake out across all your meals.
A higher intake of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet can help prevent some types of cancer, reduce blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart problems and strokes, and lower the risk of digestive problems.
Since they are loaded with all the vital vitamins and nutrients that we need, it’s easy to believe that fruit and vegetables are very beneficial to our daily lives. They’re also sources of fibre, which is necessary to promote healthy digestion and keep you full for longer.
Increased intake of fruits such as blueberries, grapes and apples have been shown in many studies to decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard and lettuce are known to reduce the risk for heart problems, while cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage also make important contributions.
Citrus fruits will supply you with essential vitamins, such as vitamin C, to improve your immune system and better your chances to fight illnesses caused by harmful pathogens.
Deficiencies in most vitamins or minerals could result in serious health problems. For example, a deficiency in calcium can result in bone decay, and a deficiency in iron can result in anaemia.
Vegetables are also important for weight loss. They’re rich in fibre which keeps you feeling full for longer, and they also have a lower calorie count than meat, which makes it ideal to have in larger quantities.
Eating smaller portions will help you shed excess fat. Sticking to recommended serving sizes will cut unwanted calories out of your meal and help you monitor your weight better. While it’s definitely a desired bonus, losing weight is not the only benefit from being in control of your portion sizes.
Portion sizes that are too big can lead to discomfort and difficulty in digesting your food. Having smaller portions will reduce cramps and feelings of being bloated. Better blood sugar and improved satiety are also benefiting factors of reducing portion sizes. Not to mention, eating less means you have to buy less food – saving money is always a great added benefit.
So, how do you actually go about having the right portion sizes?
You can start by using a smaller plate. Seems silly, but you’ll actually trick yourself into believing you’re still having a lot of food. You’ll also need to research the right serving sizes for the food you’re eating. This number will differ according to your goal, whether it’s weight loss, maintenance or weight gain.
Once you know how to portion your food, it’s time to plan ahead. To avoid making a portion control error, it’s best to have food prepared in advance. Meal prepping is a great way to achieve this.
This is probably the most important part of the process. When you’re starting from the beginning, working your way from oily junk food to being in tip-top shape, it will take time. Getting the hang of your ratios of macro- and micro nutrients, portion control, and still being satisfied, will require some trial and error, since every person is different.
The most important thing is; be patient and keep trying. The results will follow!