A healthy, nutritious diet is essential for optimal health, body composition, and weight management. Most people have a tendency to overcomplicate things. This is true with their diet as well. But it doesn't have to be complicated. The principles for healthy eating and weight management are fairly straightforward.
What constitutes a healthy, nutritious diet? A diet that has these attributes:
The amount of calories consumed equals the body's daily needs for energy.
Protein is prioritized above other macronutrients.
Micronutrients are plentiful.
"Carbage" is avoided.
Is it really that simple? Yes, it is. But achieving that type of diet on a consistent basis can be difficult for people due to all sorts of things - family history, pre-existing medical conditions, emotional state, taste preferences, life circumstances, etc. It's important to acknowledge these factors while not letting them be an excuse.
The Diet Attributes Explained
Caloric Balance - This is the key to maintaining weight and minimizing the likelihood of metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and NAFLD.
In order to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit.
In order to gain weight, you need to be in a caloric surplus.
(Most people stay in a caloric surplus, gain weight each year, and slowly develop metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and the associated chronic diseases.)
Protein - An essential macronutrient. Optimally, protein should make up 25-35% of your calorie intake. Hitting your daily protein target is important for a few reasons:
Protein can't be stored like carbs and fat, so being consistent daily is necessary.
Protein shifts the loss towards body fat instead of muscle loss when you diet.
Protein reduces appetite and hunger levels which can be very helpful in a dieting phase.
Protein boosts your metabolism because it takes more calories to digest, process, and utilize than carbs and fat.
Micronutrients - Often referred to as vitamins and minerals and are vital to healthy development, disease prevention, and wellbeing. With the exception of vitamin D, micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet. Meats, eggs, dairy, seafood, and dark green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of micronutrients.
Carbage - This refers to low quality dietary sources of carbohydrates that have little to no nutritional value. Typical examples include potato chips, crackers, cookies, pastries, bread, cereals, and sugary drinks. These are garbage carbs or "carbage" and should be avoided.
The Low Energy Diet
What is described above is very similar to what doctor Ted Naiman describes as The Low Energy Diet. The website for the LED is a great resource and explains:
What is a LED?
Why eat a LED?
How to eat a LED
How to Shop at the Grocery Store
Do most of your shopping on the perimeter of the store. If you must go "down the aisles" for something, move swiftly as if your health depends on it (It does!).