The food you eat matters. This isn’t new information at all. Balancing your diet can be a huge step towards optimizing health, wellbeing, and fitness. Some good news about balancing your diet is that there are many delicious, wholesome, and nutritious foods available! However, once you have a handle on balance the next step towards enhancing your diet may be dialing in food choices to help propel you more efficiently towards your goals!
Calories may be created equal. However, calorie sources are not. Let me explain this idea further. Eating 100 calories of butter versus 100 calories of broccoli are very different experiences. At about 1tbsp volume, 100 calories of butter is a single ambitious bite on top of a baked potato. However, 100 calories of broccoli is just short of 3.5 cups of chopped raw broccoli. That amount of broccoli would take a lot of chewing and even more digesting, and chances are good that you’d be pretty full from the broccoli alone. Even thought they had the same calorie content it would be a very different dietary experience with the broccoli and the butter.
When it comes to choosing sources of food to make up your plate it helps to consider your goals. For those who might be looking to maintain a slow and steady weight loss, prioritizing foods that are lower calorie and higher volume and satiety is going to be the best bet. An example of these switches include utilizing fruits for sources of carbohydrates, as fruit tends to be a lower calorie, highly nutritive food when compared to things like root vegetables, rice, oats, and breads. Although those foods can still be wholesome, in the context of losing weight they might be less filling and easier to overeat. Similarly with fats, choosing whole nuts, seeds, and avocado will be a greater volume of food than say oils. Additionally, the sensation of chewing and ability to see the food on the plate will contribute to satiety, as all senses are engaged when eating!
On the flip side of the food choice and goal attainment coin is the desire to gain mass and increase muscular size! In this case, where a surplus of calories is required, it will time to look at foods that are a bit easier to eat, and have a higher caloric load. With carbohydrates these easier to eat, higher carb foods, tend to be items like cereals, rice, oats, root veggies, etc. Because these are a more condensed source of carbohydrates they are easier to consume in quantities that will help attain a caloric surplus! It’d be really hard to eat enough calories to gain weight in broccoli; it is just too great a bulk of food! However, butter will be rather easy to consume in such a way that you can eat larger amounts.
Now the macronutrient that didn’t get mentioned here was protein. Generally speaking, recommended protein contents between fat loss and muscle gain protocols remain roughly the same. Therefore, this is an area that allows a little more freedom of choice. Because this value will be pretty consistent regardless of goal, the decision maker here really falls more too what do you enjoy, what can you prepare, and what will you want to have in your diet!
Another consideration here is the mindfulness to be aware of how certain foods make YOU, the individual, feel. It is entirely possible for a food to be “good” and it can have a negative effect on how you feel and perform. A prime example of this is gluten intolerance. Foods such as barley, oats, and wheat, which are parts of a wholesome diet, to some cause intense stomach pain and actually inhibit the digestive process. Every one has foods that make them feel good and strong, but at the same time there are foods that might cause sluggishness or digestive problems. Being mindful can help you be aware of how your balanced meal might be making you feel and how it can help you reach your goals!!