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Ideal Balanced Diet: What Should You Really Eat?

author: Renu Puri

Date: 03-11-2022

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The main aim of a balanced diet is to provide all the necessary nutrients that your body needs to function properly. You can procure some helpful daily calories from fresh fruits, whole grains, fresh vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and legumes. As per some of the American Dietary Guidelines, depending on the body type and your fitness goal, you have to follow a specified nutrient-rich diet chart.


Remember that there is no universal balanced diet plan available. It solely differs from one body type to another. Nutritionists will first inspect your body and the fat intake you have, before presenting you with a proper diet chart that may be calorie deficit or calorie surplus.


What to learn about calories


Calories in food are equivalent to energy stored in that food. So, your body will use up all the calories from thinking, breathing, and even walking. On average, a person will need not more than 2000 calories daily. It helps them to maintain their weight well. However, the amount is subject to change based on multiple factors like gender, age, physical activity, and more.


Males will need more calories than women because of their higher work intake. Moreover, people of both genders, who exercise more, will need more calories than those who don’t. Even the source from where you are getting your calories is important.


Avoid food items, which provide many calories but little nutritional value, and practice mindful eating for improving your basal metabolic rate. Some of those examples are processed meat, cookies, donuts, energy drinks, processed fruit drinks with extra sugar, sodas, pizzas, and more. Remember that the ingredients in any food make it more nutritional or less. So, do check out those. Go for limited consumption of empty calories for maintaining good health. Instead, get calories from food items, which are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.


How much of what to be added in a balanced diet


Your food must have everything, right from carbs to fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, calcium, and whatnot. But, everything needs to be in their proper measurements and not more or less. So, let’s find out about that in detail.


  • Proteins


It is recommended to have a diet plan, with around 30-35% protein. It can be made available in any form, from milk to leaf, pulses to eggs, greens, sprouts, and white meat. As protein remains a major component of all body cells, it is important to have that in a hefty amount in your diet plan. It is recommended to have one portion of protein in every meal and in different forms like gram, whole dal, cottage cheese, or pulses, according to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).


Some surveys conducted by the Indian Market Research Bureau will reveal that 99% of people have an inadequate amount of protein in their diet. It might be because of the increased consumption of carb-rich food items.

In men, it is recommended to have 60gms of protein per day, and in women, it will be lowered to 55gms daily.


  • Carbohydrates


Carbs are pretty hard to digest and will make you feel full for a long time. They are also the main energy source for your body. In the Indian diet chart, around 70-80% of carbs are procured from plant foods like millet, pulses, cereals, and more. However, the issue lies with people consuming refined carbs more these days like white rice, bread, wheat flour, and biscuits. You can track the calories and nutritional value of processed carbs with calorie calculator apps.


You need to intake carbs from healthier sources like millet, oats, and brown rice. They can also be a great fibre source too. You need to add insoluble and soluble fibre to your diet plan to help with your digestion process. Try and eat your vegetables and fruits rather than drinking them in their processed forms. Most of these items, along with whole grains, will have a lower glycemic index, which prevents causing spikes in blood sugar levels. Recommended carbs for men is 2320 Kcal daily, and for women, it will be 1900 Kcal per day.


  • Fats


Fats comprise energy. It helps in not just storing vitamins but also synthesizes hormones. Around 1/5th of your diet must be devoted to healthy fats. There are three kinds of fat that you need to focus on. Those are omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated acids. Using vegetable oil for cooking can surely help you big time. You can also try out different oils like mustard, soybean, olive, and even clarified butter, but to a limited amount.


You also need a fair share of minerals and vitamins in your diet plan. These options help to support nerve and muscular function, metabolism, and bone maintenance. Even cell production depends a lot on minerals. You can procure vitamins from oilseeds, nuts, green leafy veggies, and fruits. They have a high amount of Vitamin A, E, D, and B12. According to the NIN, it is better to consume 100gms of greens and 100gms of fruits daily.


The recommended calcium allowance in men will be 600mg per day, and the same goes for women as well. When it comes to iron, the recommended amount for men is 17mg per day and 21mg per day for women, because of their menstrual cycle and hormonal changes in the body.


Breakfast–Ideal balanced diet


Remember that you need a wholesome, nutritious, and healthy breakfast for your daily usage. It can be heavy as that keeps your stomach full for a long time. A good breakfast must-have:

  • Dietary fibre or carbs like oatmeal, whole-grain bread, white oats, or wheat flakes
  • Proteins like yogurt, milk, egg as a whole, or just the egg white and sprouts
  • Low-calorie snacks and nuts like apricots, almonds, walnuts, and figs


Lunch–Ideal balanced diet


Now when it comes to lunch, there has to be a mix of the fibre-rich plate, with whole grains like jowar, barley, or even brown rice. It should also have a side dish of starchy carbohydrates and a good protein source like pulses, cottage cheese, fish, or chicken. Try to include some of the probiotics like buttermilk or yogurt alongside a fresh salad to complete the meal.


Dinner- Ideal balanced meal


As your main goal here is to maintain a balanced and healthy diet plan, remember to pick food items with higher satiety value. An easy dinner will suffice. It will help in keeping you full and keep going for the entire night. A balanced diet will also curb midnight cravings to a great extent.


So, here, you need to add greens to the plate along with loaded minerals and vitamins. Make sure to limit the carb intake but do not avoid them completely. Combine the greens with nuts, fish, and seed oil as a healthy fat. It helps your body to regenerate and repair itself overnight.


Add a touch of snack to the list


Just because you are having three meals, does not mean you should give up on snacking. Your main meals aren’t that heavy so you might have to take healthy snacks in the middle. For that, try keeping junk items at bay and replace them with hung curd dip, fresh fruits, a simple salad, or nuts. Remember to take small portions of food, but don’t keep a gap for a long time.


Eat at the right moment


Just like what your body is taking in, when you are eating is highly important for maintaining an ideal balanced diet plan. Proper and targeted meal timing helps you big time. The first meal of the day must be taken after one and a half hours of waking up. You also need to have a gap of 3 hours between breakfast and lunch, and between tea time and lunch. Remember to have dinner two hours before heading to bed.


Perfect goal based on your body


Always aim to catch up with a nutritionist whenever you are planning for an ideal balanced diet. Depending on your body mass and accumulated weight, the diet is likely to change.


At niwi.ai, we have helped thousands of clients transform their lives and feel stronger, more energetic, and definitely more confident in how they look and feel, by improving their relationship with food!

about the author

Renu Puri Senior Nutritionist at niwi.ai

Renu PuriCo-Founder at niwiM.Sc. in Foods & Nutrition

Renu Puri, a skilled expert with an M.Sc. in Foods & Nutrition, is dedicated to making India healthier through her initiative - niwi. Drawing from years of experience in providing computer training to top corporate clients in software and IT, Renu realized her true passion lies in promoting health and wellness. This led her to establish niwi, where she combines her expertise in technology with her love for nutrition. niwi specializes in understanding the deep rooted behavior patterns surrounding nutrition. Renu and her team offer personalized diet counseling, helping clients not only understand what to eat but also why. What sets niwi apart in a crowded industry of nutrition services is Renu's ethos of nurturing client's eating patterns and fostering a healthy relationship with food.

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