Diet FAQs

Diet FAQs

1. What is BMI?

3. Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

4. How can I achieve my 5 a day?

5. How important is water for good health?

6. How can I prevent dehydration?

7. Why do we need carbohydrate in our diet?

8. What are healthy carbohydrates?

9. How can I increase my carbohydrate intake?

10. What are good fats and bad fats?

11. How can I cut down on my fat intake?

12. How will protein help me?

13. Where can I find protein?

14. How soon after exercising should I eat?

15. What should I eat post workout?

16. What are some post exercise refueling snacks?

17. What are my daily requirements for each food group?

18. What are antioxidants?

19. What are good sources of antioxidants?

20. How can I increase my antioxidant intake?

What is BMI?

BMI or Body Mass Index is used as a general indication of whether or not your overall body weight is within a healthy range. It is calculated using a person’s weight and height. The formula for this is:

BMI Classification
<18.5 – Underweight
18.5–24.9 – Normal/average
25–29.9 – Overweight/pre-obese
>30 – Obese

Even though this is an easy way to have an idea of where you are in terms of your weight, it does depend on the individuals ethnic origin or if they are particularly muscular. As said before this is gives general indication but should not be taken as gospel.

Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Many people seem to think that to lose weight they need to skip breakfast. Eating breakfast is actually good for weight loss. The key though is what you eat.

By skipping breakfast you are more likely to become tired as your body needs fuel and your blood sugar level is low. And generally what happens is people find themselves choosing something sugary to give them back some of their lost energy.

This high energy level will only last a few minutes and the next thing you know you are hungry a lot earlier. Come lunch time your choice of what to eat may not be a healthy one. Starting your day with breakfast will help to make sensible food choices for the rest of the day.

Eating a good breakfast every day sets the tone of the day. You not only give yourself the energy you need to kick start your day but you also control your blood sugar levels keeping you fuller for longer. And by keeping your blood sugar levels evenly balanced you will manage your body weight better than those who don’t eat breakfast. It is also the key to a stable mood, concentration and longevity.

For a healthy start to the day, base your breakfast on slow release carbohydrates. The single best carbohydrate food is oats. There are a variety of toppings to add to it such as peanut butter with slices of apple, thin spread of nutella topped with mashed banana or low fat soft cheese and slices of smoked salmon. Porridge oats contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre. For flavour, add a few apricots or a sliced banana. Oats will help to keep blood sugar levels stable until lunch.

When eating bread choose wholemeal or granary and use a small amount of low-fat spread and some jam or marmalade.

When choosing a breakfast cereal, go for one that contains wholegrains and is lower in salt and sugar. You can either serve semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk, or low-fat yoghurt with it.

Don’t forget to add some fruit with your breakfast. You can have a glass of fruit juice, add some dried fruit to your cereal or have a smoothie and add some wholegrain cereal for extra fibre.

How can I achieve my 5 a day?

To maintain a healthy, balanced diet it is important to include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Even though we all know that we should be eating more fruit and vegetables, most of us don’t eat enough.

A portion is about a handful or 80g. You can choose from fresh, dried, tinned, frozen or juiced. Potatoes, yam and plantain are not counted as vegetables as they are starchy foods.

Being able to achieve your 5 a day can be easier than you think. For breakfast you can add a handful of dried fruit to you cereal, eat half a grapefruit or apple or drink a glass of fruit juice.

For lunch you could eat a bowl of salad, have some fruit salad or eat a banana sandwich. And for dinner you could add vegetables or pulses to your curry, stir fry or casserole or serve at least 2 types of vegetables with your meat. And if you get hungry during each meal you can grab a snack such as an apple or a pear.

Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables will give your body the many vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. Evidence has shown that those who include a lot of fruit and vegetables in their diet are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and some cancers.

What counts as a portion of fruit:

• ½ grapefruit or avocado
• 1 apple, pear, banana, orange
• a tomato
• a handful of grapes, cherries or berries
• a slice of watermelon or fresh pineapple
• a dessert bowl of salad
• 3 dried apricots
• 3 heaped teaspoon of peas
• 150ml glass of orange juice
• 2 kiwi fruit, plums, satsuma’s, or other similar sized fruit
• 2 broccoli spears
• 1 heaped tablespoon or raisons or sultanas
• 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables, beans or pulses
• 7 strawberries
• 3 heaped tablespoons of sliced carrots

How important is water for good health?

Water is an essential nutrient that is often overlooked. It is a major component of our body. Our body weight consists of between 50-75% of water. To function properly all organs require water. Water assists in absorption, excretion, circulation, digestion and is a medium for all chemical changes in the body. Without water, you can die.

Food Standards Guidelines recommend drinking 6-8 glasses or cups to achieve the recommended 1.5-2L of water a day. It’s important to drink water on a regular basis as the body cannot store water for when there is a need for later on.

The way to estimate a person’s water requirement is based on their energy requirements, age, weight and activity levels. Another influence on water requirements is the environmental conditions which include temperature and humidity.

How can I prevent dehydration?

Here are some tips on how to prevent dehydration

• drink constantly throughout the day
• don’t wait until you’re thirsty before drinking water
• cut down on your intake of tea, coffee, chocolate and alcohol as these are all diuretics
• replace lost fluid immediately after exercise
• avoid over dressing during exercise as this can lead to excessive sweating
• avoid starting an exercise program if you are dehydrated. Exercise will make you even more dehydrated
• carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day

The best way to asses you body’s hydration is by checking the colour of your urine. If your urine is light yellow, then you are hydrated. If it’s the colour of dark gold, then you’re low on fluids.

Why do we need carbohydrate in our diet?

Carbohydrate is the main source of energy and comprises the main bulk of the average human diet. For your brain, heart and nervous system to function properly, a constant supply of carbohydrate is needed.

Once digestion has occurred, all forms of carbohydrate are converted into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy for muscles and other parts of the body. Before you workout you need to ensure your muscles are well fuelled.

How much you need depends on how active you are. The more active you are the more carbohydrate you need to fuel your muscles. A good guide to whether you are eating enough is how energetic you feel during your workout. If you fatigue easily, then this suggests that your glycogen levels are low and your carbohydrate intake is insufficient.

What are healthy carbohydrates?

The best carbohydrates to choose are wholegrain carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and beans as they promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals and fibre. These types of carbohydrates are slow digesting and will control blood sugar levels whereas carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, pastries, sweets, soft drinks, and other processed foods are easily digestible and can contribute to weight gain.

How can I increase my carbohydrate intake?

Here are some tips on increasing your CHO intake:

• increase your intake of fruit and vegetables. This will also provide you with a good source of vitamins and minerals
• add salad as a side dish to your dinner. This will help improve nutrient and fibre content as well a lower the GI of the meal
• base your meals that are rich in starchy carbohydrate such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain bread and whole grain cereals
• choose tomato or vegetable based sauces as alternatives to those high in butter and oil or cream, especially with rice and pasta dishes

What are good fats and bad fats?

Fat and fatty acids play an important role in keeping our body functioning properly. So instead of thinking of fat as the bad guy, we need to remember it as an essential part of our diet.

There are three types of fats– saturated, unsaturated and tran-saturated fats.

Saturated fats are generally known as the bad fat that we either need to reduce or avoid in our diet. An excess of this fat is bad for our health and can lead to coronary heart disease and raise blood cholesterol levels.

You can find examples of this fat mostly in meat and dairy products such as cheese, butter and whole milk. Almost all processed foods such as cakes, bread, sweets, chocolates and ready meals have a degree of fat in them. It can also be found in coconut and palm oils.

Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated and trans fats. There are two types – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats, found in oils such as olive, rapeseed and sesame oil, are the preferred choice for cooking. These fats are also believed to help lower cholesterol and may assist in reducing heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats are even better for you and have 2 very important fatty acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6, also tadalafiltablets known as essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids must be included in our diet as our body cannot produce them. The reason these 2 fatty acids are important in our diet is because they help the cardiovascular, immune, nervous and reproductive systems to function.

Foods rich in Omega 3 include oily fish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, white bait, herrings, soya-beans, wheat germ, walnuts, linseed and rapeseed oil.

Foods rich in Omega 6 include wheat germ, walnuts, sunflower oil and sunflower seeds.

Tans fats are considered bad, even more so than saturated fats, and raise blood cholesterol levels. They are usually found in commercially baked products, fried foods and snack foods. Foods that tend to be high in trans fats should be avoided at the most.

How can I cut down on my fat intake?

Here are some tips on cutting back on fat:

• cut off all fat off meat before cooking
• exchange butter for a low fat spread
• limit the fats added to foods such as oil based dressings, margarine, butter and cream
• grill, bake and steam food rather than fry
• choose low fat spreads over full fat spreads
• include 1-2 portions of oily fish a week in exchange for red meat
• choose polyunsaturated oils and spreads over saturated fats like butter
• aim to eat less saturated fat such as animal fats and don’t eat the skin

How will protein help me?

Including protein in your diet, such as red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, pulses and nuts, is vital to all our cells as well as our muscles. It provides the body with roughly ten to 15 per cents of its dietary energy, and is vital for growth and repair.

Including protein in at least two meals every day should give you all the protein you need.

Where can I find protein?

Sources of animal protein can be found in red meat, chicken and other white meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.

Sources of plant protein can be found in fruit & vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses.

How soon after exercising should I eat?

The recommended timeframe to eat after exercise is immediately to within 2 hours after completion of your workout. The quicker you consume food or drink after a workout, the quicker your body will recover. If you eat outside this timeframe the rate at which your body’s ability to convert what you ear or drink to glycogen will drop. Aim to consume about 1g CHO/Kg BM. The CHO can be in the form of either liquid of solid format with a high GI value.

What should I eat post workout?

Once your workout has finished it’s important to refill your glycogen stores immediately to within 2 hours post exercise. Carbohydrate is converted into glycogen 1 and a half times faster than normal straight after exercise. The longer you wait to refill your glycogen stores the longer it will take to start the recovery process.

Aim to consume 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight. Adding a little protein to this will speed the recovery further. Eating a combination of both carbohydrates and protein minimizes protein breakdown, encourages muscle rebuilding and stimulates insulin release. It also reduces post muscle soreness.

So whether you’re hungry or not, the quicker you eat something the quicker your body recovers. If ingesting whole foods after your workout or training session chokes you then perhaps meal replacements shakes are a good source to replace proteins, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.

What are some post exercise refueling snacks?

Here is a list of refueling snacks for after your workout.

• jacket potato with low-fat high-protein food such as tuna, cottage cheese, chicken or baked beans and add a side salad
• a sports bar containing a mixture of carbohydrate and protein
• a bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk
• a bowl of porridge made with milk. Porridge is an ideal recovery food as it provides carbohydrate, protein, B-vitamins, iron and fibre. It has a low GI, gives a prolonged release of energy and should keep your muscles refueled for a few hours
• 1 or 2 cartons of fruit yoghurt
• a smoothie combination generally of bananas, strawberries, pears mangoes and pineapple. To get a protein boost, add some milk or yoghurt to it.
• flavoured milk
• a couple of pieces of fresh fruit with a glass of milk
• a tuna or cottage cheese sandwich
• a handful of dried fruit & nuts
• a few rice cakes with jam & cottage cheese
• a banana and honey sandwich using thick wholemeal bread

What are my daily requirements for each food group?

The main purpose for Healthy Eating Guidelines is to promote overall health while reducing the risk of developing nutrition related disease such as cancer and heart disease.

The five food groups are:
• Bread, rice, potato, pasta – 5-7 portions a day
• Fruit and vegetables – 5 portions per day
• Meat, fish, eggs, beans – moderate amounts around 2-3 portions a day
• Milk and dairy foods – around 3 portions a day
• Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar – eat sparingly –small amount or less,  occasionally or around 1-2 servings a day

The five food groups are:
• Bread, Cereals, Rice, Pasta, Noodles – 3-12 servings a day
• Vegetables, Legumes – 2-9 servings a day
• Fruit – 1-5 servings a day
• Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese – 2-5 servings a day
• Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Nuts, Legumes – 1-2 servings a day

Then there are extra foods that may be eaten sometimes or in small amounts.
Examples include biscuits, cakes, desserts, pastries, soft drinks; high fat snack items such as crisps, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and other takeaways; lollies and chocolate.
Between 0 to 3 servings per day

• Grains – there are two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Base half of your servings on whole grains. eat at least 3 ounces of whole grain bread, cereal, crackers, rice, pasta
men aged 19-30 – 8 ounce equivalents
men aged 31-50 – 7 ounce equivalents
men aged 51+ – 6 ounce equivalents
women aged 19-50 – 6 ounce equivalents
women aged 51+ – 5 ounce equivalents
• Vegetables – vary them between dark green, orange, dry beans and peas. There are 5 sub groups: dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas and other vegetables
men aged 19-50 – 3 cups
men aged 51+ – 2 ½ cups
women aged 19-50 – 2 ½ cups
women aged 51+ – 2 cups
• Fruits – eat a variety and choose from fresh, dried, canned and frozen. Limit juice intake
men aged 19+ – 2 cups
women aged 19-30 – 2 cups
women aged 31+ – 1 ½ cups
• Oils – make sure most of your fat sources come from fish, nuts & vegetable oils. Limit solid foods such as butter, stick margarine, shortening and lard
men aged 19-30 – 7 teaspoons
men aged 13+ – 6 teaspoons
women aged 19-30 – 6 teaspoons
women aged 31+ – 5 teaspoons
• Milk – choose low-fat or fat-free versions
men aged 19+ – 3 cups
women aged 19+ – 3 cups
• Meat and Beans – choose lean or low-fat meats and poultry. When cooking either bake it, broil it or grill it. Vary your choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds
men aged 19-30 – 6 ½ ounces equivalents
men aged 31-50 – 6 ounces equivalents
men aged 51+ – 5 ½ ounce equivalents
women aged 19-30 – 5 ½ ounce equivalents
women aged 31+ – 5 ounce equivalents

The four food groups are:
• Vegetables and fruit
men aged 19-50 – 8-10 servings a day
men aged 51+ – 7 servings a day
women aged 19-50 – 7-8 servings a day
women aged 51+ – 7 servings a day
• Grain products
men aged 19-50 – 8 servings a day
men aged 51+ – 7 servings a day
women aged 19-50 – 6-7 servings a day
women aged 51+ – 6 servings a day
• Milk and alternatives
men aged 19-50 – 2 servings a day
men aged 51+ – 3 servings a day
women aged 19-50 – 2 servings a day
women aged 51+ – 3 servings a day
• Meat and alternatives
men aged 19-50 – 3 servings a day
men aged 51+ – 3 servings a day
women aged 19-50 – 2 servings a day
women aged 51+ – 2 servings a day

• Grains – 6-11 servings – rye, wheat, oats, barley, rice, kasza
• Vegetables – 3-5 servings – beets, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, wild mushrooms
• Fruits – 2-4 servings – cherries, prunes, apples, plums, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries
• Milk – 2-3 servings – milk, cheese, buttermilk, cottage cheese
• Meats – 2-3 servings – beef, pork, lamb, goose, veal, duck, eggs, almonds
• Others – eat sparingly – butter, honey, sugar, lard, shortening, sour cream

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that help to prevent and protect our body cells and tissues against damage from free radicals. They may help prevent diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Sources of antioxidants in our diet include:
ACE vitamins or
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin E

• copper
• selenium
• zinc

It has been shown that those who eat more antioxidant rich foods are less prone to heart attack, stroke, cataracts and some cancers.

What are good sources of antioxidants?

The following are good sources of antioxidants because they contain those vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant properties:
• broccoli
• carrots
• peppers
• vegetable oil
• apricots
• nuts/seeds
• wholegrains

How can I increase my antioxidant intake?

Here are some tips on increasing your antioxidant intake:
• spread ½ an avocado on wholegrain bread/toast as an alternative to butter or margarine. This will add extra vitamin E and selenium in the wholegrain
• try to use olive oil and rapeseed oils when cooking and preparing dressings. These are particularly rich in vitamin E
• try sweet potato, a source of vitamin A, as an alternative to your usual baked potatoes
• add berries to your cereal, have cubed oranges as a snack or try a strawberry smoothie for breakfast
• add dried fruits such as dried apricots to your porridge for extra vitamin E
• eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
• serve zinc rich soya beans as an alternative side dish, with carrots for extra vitamin A
• grate almonds of brazil nuts on your cereal for extra vitamin E, selenium and zinc

According to the Tufts University ORAC test – a survey which measures the ability of a food to absorb the damage of free radicals, or the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – the highest ranked antioxidant fruit is the variety of wolfberry grown in the Ningxia province of China. The highest ranked edible antioxidant of all is cloves, and clove essential oil.

author: Valentine

Personal Trainer · S&C Coach · Official Trainer to Sky1 Obese A Year to Save My Life & SkyLiving FAT: The Fight of My Life I'm a father and a husband, and my girls are my inspiration to be better, do better & continually help others achieve better of themselves.


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