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What we eat determines a lot about ourselves. After all, food is fuel for our body. Fuel has to be good for the body to sustain long healthy life. We do not compromise on many things in life - be it the jewellery we aspire, or the latest gadget. But then, why would you compromise and look for cheap food products instead of the best ones to sustain your body in a long run? Keep it simple and natural!

Healthy life, healthy food habits are not a gift. Gift you get through gene can go only to some extent. There has to be a hard work combined with smartness to achieve health and wellness.

But then, how to do that? It is overwhelming to understand what is a good food? I can tell you that almonds are good for health. Does it mean we can eat one kg every day? Olive oil is supposed to be good. Shall we drink one litre each day? Make no sense, right?

To understand how to eat for healthy life, we have to take some time to understand the basics. The success of anything we see in nature depends on balance. A well-balanced food habit can take you long way.

WHAT IS CALORIE?
How much calorie you should consume? Is consuming lower calories is good?
What are the pillars (so to speak) that forms the calories we consume?
What makes a balanced food?

Calorie is a simple math with Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates as follows.
Calories = ( 9 X Total Fat ) + (4 x Protein) + ( 4 x Carbohydrates)

If you consume 300g of Carbohydrates, 60g of Protein and 60g of Fat each day, you would be consuming (9 x 60) + (4 x 60) + ( 4 x 300) = 1980 Calories. It is that simple!


Calories we consume should come at right proportion from the three pillars of life-giving energy – Fat – Protein – Carbohydrates (also called as macro-nutrients)

You should understand now that none of the three is bad. We need fat, protein and carbohydrates. Otherwise life will not be possible.

You can consume either 2000 Calories or 2500 Calories or even 5000 Calories each day. It all depends on what is that you do day in and day out. A competitive swimmer, for example, training each day for 6 hours, swimming about 10 Kilometres each day would easily require upwards of 8000 Calories. When engine is running at high capacity, it requires more fuel.

Various research from reputed institutions such as National Institute Of Nutrition (Govt Of India) or USDA shows that an average adult with moderate level of activity would require between 2000 to 2500 Calories each day.

If we consider 2000 Calorie diet, for an adult, a balanced food would be the combination of
300g of Carbohydrates
60g of Protein
60g of Fat

As long as you can keep the balance of these three in order, first step towards health is achieved.

Let us understand the ‘balance’ better. The team calories mean Energy. It is what keeps us active and alive. We have to ensure that the calories are not empty.

WHAT ARE EMPTY CALORIES?
If we consume a bottle of coke (500ml), then, it will cost you 226 Calories. This is pure simple sugar with no value to your body. It is going to get into the blood stream so fast that your body will not know what hit it and how! It is like taking a big hammer and give the blood vessels a big whack!

This is exactly you have to avoid when consuming carbohydrates. It is not only useless; it is simply harmful to your body.

On the contrary, let us consider you consume 100ml of milk. Instead of consuming coke, you made the choice of milk. It will cost you approximately 62 Calories. Good right? This 62 Calorie is not empty calorie

In return for this cost, your body will get 3.3g of protein, 41mcg of Vitamin D, 117mg of Calcium and many more. This is the fundamental behind consuming balanced food. If you consider calorie is a cost that you spend, protein, vitamins, minerals are what you get in return. It is simple as that. Always shop for batter deals!

LET US TALK ABOUT FAT
There are several types of fats. Saturated Fat, Unsaturated Fat, Trans Fat
Transat is bad. Fortunately, most food products you consume would not have it. You have to make effort to consume trans fats.

Unsaturated fats are necessary for you (nuts and seeds are full of it). Saturated fats are not necessarily good but it should be consumed in minimum amounts.

Unsaturated fats are further divided in to two categories (Mono and Poly Unsaturated Fats). These are lovely for your heart. Full of Omega 3 fatty acids. It helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and helps to improve good cholesterol level.

Next time, when you see a walnut, give a big hug and a long kiss. Let me tell you why! 100g of walnut will give you 47g of poly unsaturated fat and 9g of mono unsaturated fat, 6.7g of fibre and 15g of protein. Go figure! 100g of walnut will cost you 650 Calories. But I am sure you will not complain.

You are getting too much in return. Given what you get in return, it is one of the cheapest nuts on this mother earth.

LET US COME TO PROTEIN
A normal adult would require about 60g of protein per day. He has to obtain this through his regular food that forms part of his/her 2000 calories. Protein is not available in all food products. For example, rice does not contain much of protein while pulses contain about 18% protein. If you consume 100g of cooked pulse, you may get 18g of protein. On your daily diet, it is quite unlikely that 100g of pulse is consumed. Even if you do, it can only give you 18g of protein.

Let us try eating non vegetarian then! 100g of chicken can only give you 30g of protein.

Among the three pillars, this one pillar is hard to manage. Unless we make a conscious effort to choose what we eat, getting that 60g protein naturally each day will be hard to achieve. The solution lies in getting more nuts, seeds and whole grains into your food habits. There is no other way.
We now understood the essence of what should constitute the calories – it is the right balance of the three macro-nutrients (Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein). These are required in plenty and hence is called as such.

Key is selecting the food products that will form your daily diet. As long as your selection of foods revolve around fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, it is very hard to lose the balance.

Let us continue the learning in the next blog..

Have a healthy and balanced life