It makes good sense that what we put into our bodies will affect how well we perform. If you eat a sensibly balanced diet, with a high fluid intake you should look and feel great. If all you eat is junk food, snacks and fizzy drinks chances are that you’ll suffer for it.

 

So what is a ‘good’ diet? It’s a mixture of proteins, carbohydrates and fats (for more information see General Nutrition) eaten in the quantity which best serves our bodies and lifestyle. As a guide, across your three meals a day your diet should be one-third starchy food, such as pasta, rice, cereals and pulses, a third fruit and vegetables, 15% milk and dairy foods, 7% fatty or sugary foods, 12% meat, fish or vegetarian protein alternatives.

Fluid is also important and so you should aim to drink 10 glasses of water each day.

 

A healthy diet shouldn’t contain excessive quantities of sugar or salt. By having a varied diet, rather than the same old meals over and over again, you will also be more likely to gain enough vitamins and minerals for the body to function at peak efficiency.

 

Busy lifestyles can make it all too tempting to throw the guidelines for healthy eating out the window as you stock up on ready-meals and takeaways. With some thought and planning though there is no reason you can’t still eat healthily. Keep a stock of protein-rich cereal bars to hand if you know you always end up grabbing breakfast on the run, take unsalted nuts and dried fruit in the car or in your bag for when you need a snack and consider making extra batches of healthy meals which can be frozen for a night when you don’t have time to cook.

If you’re eating well and your body is getting a good range of foods, perhaps supported with a good multi-vitamin to fulfill any additional needs, with regular exercise you should be at an appropriate weight for your height. Fad diets come and go but healthy eating combined with exercise is the best way to maintain a sensible weight for your frame and stave off weight-related illness.

 

Everyone is different so there are no absolute rules for how much you should weigh. The nearest to an international standard is the Body Mass Index (BMI) which measures your weight against your height. Calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. For example, if you weigh 60kg and you are 1.60m tall, then 60 ÷ (1.60 x 1.60) = 23.4.

 

If your BMI falls between 19 and 24, your weight is acceptable; 25–29 is viewed as overweight; and 30+ as obese. Use the same formula to out an acceptable weight for your height and you will know how much weight you need to lose.

 

Women have less muscle and smaller frames than men, so they might want to target towards the lower end of the range while men should generally target the higher end.


Your waist measurement is an even better predictor of your health than your weight. Abdominal fat releases harmful proteins and free fatty acids into the rest of the body and this can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. If you are female and have a waist measurement of 88cm+ (32in+), or male with a waist measurement of 93cm (37in+), you are at risk of endangering your health. If this measurement is 93cm+ (35in+) for women and 100cm+ (40in+) for men, then you are at serious risk of heart disease, stroke, many cancers and diabetes.

 

To measure your waist, stand naturally and put a tape measure around your waistline level with your belly button till it fits snugly and is not cutting into your flesh. If you are planning to lose up to 10% of your body weight then you should plan on losing an average of 450g (1lb) per week. The pattern is to lose weight more quickly at the start of the diet, followed by a series of drops and plateaux. The closer you get to your target weight, the slower your weight loss. So for a 6.3kg (1 stone) loss, allow about fourteen weeks.


If you have more than 10% to lose, you’ll lose more than 450g (1lb) on average a week. This is simply because your larger body requires more calories just to keep operating than someone who is lighter.

 

But diets fail when they are seen as a short term fix for a lifetime problem - if you want to lose weight and keep your weight down then your lifestyle must change. You need to control your treats and make time to prepare healthy meals and exercise in some way. It’s important to remember that there are no unhealthy foods - just an unhealthy diet.

 

 

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