What Good Meals are Made Of

stimulant foods

Everyone always asks themselves what they should eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, after a workout, to lose weight, to gain muscle, or to have more energy.  There are uncountable answers to these questions – but there are four basic components that should be obtained in every meal.  The four components are protein, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and fat.  It might seem hard, but only one food needs to be eaten from each category.  All four of these are macronutrients or contain macronutrients that are essential for one to be energized. They work together and create better nutrient absorption, higher metabolism, increased energy, and improved digestion.  Even though they are still healthy when consumed separately, blood sugar imbalances can become an issue.  Imbalances in blood sugar can trigger more fat storage and lead to decreased energy levels.

Protein is important for the diet because it helps to build muscle and burn calories.  Protein is also a key component of satiety meaning it keeps you full for a longer time.  When choosing protein dense foods, it’s important to consider the amounts of fat and cholesterol since most of them come from animals.  Some healthy protein choices include eggs, chicken or turkey breast, fish, skim milk, low fat cheese, and whole grain bread.

Vegetables are food group, not a macronutrient.  They contain plenty of macronutrients as well as other nutrients that the body needs.  They contain fiber which aids in digestion and keeps you full because it takes longer to digest, and helps to lower cholesterol. Many vegetables improve the appearance of skin and boost the immune system.  It is important to eat a variety of colorful vegetables, but green ones such as broccoli and peas provide optimal nutrition.  Try to eat them fresh bzecause some forms of preparation cause nutrients to be removed.

Complex carbohydrates provide the body with fuel and energy needed to carry out daily activities.  Excess energy is stored until it is needed.  Complex carbohydrates can be found in grains (wheat, rice, barley, oats), potatoes and beans which are all starchy foods.  Grains are made into bread, cereal, pasta and anything else made with flour.  Fruits and vegetables are also considered complex carbohydrates.  When grocery shopping, it is important to look at food labels because many foods made with grain are refined – meaning they have been processed with machinery that strips the bran and germ from the whole grain.  The bran and germ are the parts that contain most of the nutrients.  You will know a food is refined if it contains little or no nutrients or fiber.

When you hear that you should incorporate fat into your diet, this doesn’t mean you need to eat a greasy cheeseburger every day.  There is such thing as healthy fats and they come from a variety of foods such as: raw nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil, flaxseed oil, peanut butter, avocado, and fish.  When eaten in moderation, they are extremely beneficial for one’s overall health.  Fats are important in stabilizing blood sugar levels and absorbing nutrients such as vitamin K, D, A, and E.  Essential fatty acids (omega 6s and omega 3s) cannot be created by the body so they must be obtained through the diet.  Omega 6s and omega 3s are essential for the proper functioning of the nervous and endocrine systems which control hunger and cravings.  They also help to lower cholesterol and to maintain weight because they cause stored fat to be released.

Once you learn which foods contain each macronutrient, it is easy to decide what to eat for meals.  For optimum health, every meal should consist of complex carbohydrates, vegetables, protein, and healthy fat no matter what.  It is important to choose snacks from the four groups as well and to always check food labels.

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