Think about what you eat each day. Do you use your whole calorie allowance on chips, chocolate and fast food, or are you eating meals containing lots of vegetables, grains, meats and legumes to give you energy and help you feel satisfied and full for longer?
It’s important to eat the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein in your diet. But do you know how much you need of each?
Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat
Your body needs foods from each of the main food groups in order to function optimally and feel healthy and energetic. It’s important you don’t cut out any food group completely, or restrict it unnecessarily.
Your body uses protein to build and repair all protein components of your body. This includes muscle, blood, organs, nerves, skin, hair and your brain. It also helps keep you feeling full for longer.
Good sources of protein include:
- lean meats and poultry
- dairy products
- soy beans
Carbohydrates provide your body with the energy it needs to support normal functioning, such as breathing and keeping your heart beating, and for activities such as walking and moving.
Good sources of carbohydrates include:
- whole grain breads
- high-fibre cereals
Fats provide a concentrated energy source for your body, and are essential for good health. They also help absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins around your body.
Sources of healthy unsaturated fats include:
- oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines
- olive and canola oils
- nuts and seeds
Limit saturated fats, such as butter, cream, chips, fatty meats and sausages.
We suggest the following breakdown of your daily calories:
|Nutrient||Requirement (% of daily calorie intake)|
|Fats||Less than 30%|
These proportions will provide you with the optimal intake of nutrients for a healthy, energetic body.
Are calories or nutrient recommendations more important?
When tracking your food intake, you’ll notice your Food Diary provides recommendations on the amount of carbohydrates and fats you should consume each day.
Your most important goal should be to stick to your calorie recommendations. However, keeping the suggested nutrient proportions in mind is also important. You’ll find if you can aim for both, you’ll be getting a great balance of foods and nutrients, and feel satisfied and not hungry.
Consider this example… If you reach dinner time with 400 calories left to consume, but you’ve eaten your whole quota of fat and carbohydrates for the day, will you just have a protein bar for dinner?
No! It’s much better to consider your overall calorie requirements and eat a healthy and nutritious dinner. Having exceeded your fat and carbohydrate allowance, a meal of grilled lean meat and salad would be a more suitable option than a pasta dish, but you shouldn’t restrict your meals unnecessarily at the expense of your recommended calorie intake.
Aim to meet your calorie intake and keep the recommended nutrient proportions in mind as a guide.