Building Your Balance
When we hear the words “balanced meal” we tend to think of all the commercials we heard growing up where the announcer would tell us that our cereal was “a part of this balanced breakfast”. The problem was the meal on the screen was far from balanced. It was usually very carbohydrate heavy with only a little protein and nearly no fat.
Here’s the problem; that completely backwards. That meal was usually about 70% carbs, 20% protein, and 10% fat. What we should be striving for is about 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. That’s balance. And it serves some pretty incredible purposes.
Why 40/30/30 Matters
With a 40/30/30 balance we benefit in 3 ways:
- By lowering our carb consumption we lower our blood sugar and insulin spikes. Why is that important? Well for starters it reduces problems with insulin (think pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes). We are now finding out insulin issues are the cause of a whole host of other health problems like high cholesterol, heart disease, and even cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Also, those spikes are what make you sleepy throughout the day. That sleepy feeling you feel around 2pm, it usually because you ate too many carbs at lunch. Despite what Keto, Atkins and other fad diets may say, carbs aren’t bad. What is bad is too many carbs. Specifically processed carbs. This new level of carbs helps us choose more fruits and veggies like we know we should eat anyway.
- By upping our protein levels we help our bodies heal and build. Protein plays an essential role in our immune system, regulating body temperature, and producing the correct kinds and amounts of hormones to help our bodies heal quickly from illness, injury, and even a hard workout. Doesn’t that just sound like a better deal? It is. You just feel better when your protein levels are where they need to be.
- By upping our fat intake we do some pretty amazing things. First, there are vitamins and minerals that we simply cannot process without the presence of fat in our diet. So all those vitamins you’ve been taking, unless you’re eating enough fat, you’re not using them because your body literally can’t. This also means that our body can process and produce hormones more efficiently (wow, more protein and fat sounds like less mood swings, yay!). Second, it helps our brains and the rest of our nervous system function better. You think more clearly, hurt less, and react to thing more quickly. Third, it serves as a long burn energy source so you have energy for longer without feeling hungry all. the. time.
What and How Much
So that’s all well and good, but what are good sources of each? How much do I eat? How do I figure it out? Let’s clear it up.
Carbs are our body’s main source of fuel and aid in the breakdown of body fat (woohoo!!!). Carbohydrates should comprise about 40% of our diet.
You want to gravitate to carbs that are low in sugar, high in fiber and minimally processed. What does that mean? Eat mostly vegetables and have some fruits and a bit of very low processed grains. These can usually be found in the perimeter of your grocery store. Avoid all those boxed items that can be found in the middle aisles.
We want a high amount of non-starchy carbs such as broccoli, carrots, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc.
Starchy carbs provide more energy but need to be consumed in moderation. Think things like quinoa, oatmeal (non-instant), beans, rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, ezekiel bread and rice cakes to name a few.
Fruit is good in moderation. Fruit tends to have natural binding agents and fiber that helps process the sugar in a better way that doesn’t spike insulin and lead to being stored as body fat. Don’t worry about what kind, it’s all pretty good, but like starchy carbs, go easy here.
Protein helps our body’s rebuild structures, regulate many body functions, strengthen our immune system, aids hormone regulation, and a whole host of other things. We recommend protein should comprise about 30% of our diet.
We want to gravitate towards the more lean proteins such as fish, chicken, extra lean pork and turkey, lean cuts of beef, bison, and other wild game. Try and away from the higher fat proteins such as fatty red meats and many forms of pork.
We like to grill, bake, slow cook, and use an Instapot when cooking proteins, but you should always avoid fried proteins.
Try to avoid or eat in moderation meats such as bacon, most pork, ribs, most cheeses, full fat dairy, any fried meat.
Fat gets a bad wrap just because of its name. But, it is a vital component of our cell membranes, particularly in the brain and nervous system. It aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and is used as a source of energy. Despite what the processed food industry may try to tell us, we need fat in our diet. We recommend healthy sources of fat should comprise about 30% of our diet.
Stick with the plant and natural based sources of fat such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oils, coconut oils, and butter.
Avoid fats that come with fried foods, baked goods, and junk food. All of which usually have a high amount of highly processed carbs as well. Double avoid.
Going back to our example from last week, if you needed a 3 serving/block meal, you would look at what category we just put each food in. Here’s a better idea of what we mean:
As you create your meals, you need to know how many grams of each are in a block. Check it out:
- 1 serving/block of…
- protein = 7 grams
- carbohydrates = 9 grams
- fat = 3 grams
So to construct a 3 serving breakfast we simply multiply each by 3. Therefore, we want to have a breakfast that has about 27 grams of carbohydrates (9 grams x 3 servings), 21 grams of protein (7 grams x 3 servings) and 9 grams of fat (3 grams x 3 servings).
Make sense? If that’s too much, think of it this way: using the block chart above, you need 3 proteins (all the same or mix and match), 3 carbs, and 3 fats. Easy right? That’s one meal. Do that at each meal and snack.
Warning! Don’t be alarmed if you are off by a few grams here and there! This is about creating change not becoming OCD over your food.
Putting the Puzzle Together
Eating this way is more than a diet, it’s how most bodies function optimally. It’s a total “lifestyle change” because it alters how we look at food and how to build our meals and our days.
Additionally, we want to build a nutritional lifestyle that has flexibility but is optimized to keep us kicking butt well into our 90’s and beyond. This really is how you do it.
Got your stuff together but still a little confused? Set an appointment with one of our coaches and get started today!