Daily Nutrition & Health
What to Eat for a Balanced Diet: Nutrients You Need Each Day
Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training Jul 21, 2023
Finding balance is tough, especially when it comes to nutrition. Meal planning with healthy ingredients takes time, and often, fast food is more convenient. But in order to look and feel your best, your body needs a complex blend of nutrients each and every day. We’re talking about the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, water and fiber. Whew! That’s a lot to balance, and even the most careful eater can be hard-pressed to meet each nutrient target every day.
But there are some easy ways to combine healthy foods and supplements to meet your daily needs and find the right calorie balance to help you lose, gain or maintain your body weight. Herbalife’s Global Nutrition Philosophy emphasizes a 40-30-30 balance of carbs, protein and healthy fats along with enough exercise and rest each day. Finding that balance and developing healthy routines will really help you live your best life.
What Balanced Nutrition Looks Like: The 7 Essential Nutrients
Here are the seven elements of a balanced diet to help you visualize your daily nutrition goals:
Protein is a macronutrient vital to virtually every cell in the body. You use protein to manufacture important molecules, such as hormones and enzymes, and to build and maintain muscle tissue. Protein is also great at satisfying hunger.
Your body is constantly assembling, breaking down and using protein, so it’s important to include enough protein in your diet every day to replace what you’ve used. We suggest that up to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake come from lean plant or animal protein.
- Animal-based: poultry, dairy, fish and eggs
- Plant-based: nuts, lentils and beans (including soybeans) or tofu
- Protein powders and protein shakes
Your body prefers another macronutrient, carbohydrates, for its fuel, so it’s important to get enough every day. We recommend that you get about 40 percent of your calories from whole grain, vegetable and fruit carbs – not the sugary, starchy kinds you find in baked goods, soda or candy.
- Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or barley; whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers and pasta
Your body also requires small amounts of beneficial fats – but don’t go hog wild just yet; you’re probably getting enough. The typical American diet supplies more total fat and saturated fat than we need, and not enough healthy fats, such as fats from fish, nuts, olive oil and avocados. Fats are a very concentrated source of calories, which is why the Herbalife Nutrition Philosophy recommends that you limit your fats to 30 percent or less of your daily calorie intake.
- Healthy oils such as olive, canola and sunflower
4. Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are involved in many of the chemical reactions your body performs every day, and many minerals – calcium and magnesium, for example – have structural roles in the body. A well-balanced diet helps supply the vitamins and minerals you need, and taking a daily multiple vitamin and mineral supplement helps you get the proper amounts.
Plant foods produce a wide range of natural compounds called phytonutrients. They contain a number of benefits, such as preventing disease, enhancing immunity and repairing DNA damage. Their pigments give fruits and vegetables their beautiful colors. That’s why it’s important to eat colorful, plant-filled meals.
- 4 ½ cups of colorful fruits and vegetables each day
- At least 3 different colors at every meal
- A wide variety throughout the week
Fiber supports the digestive process, helps fill you up and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. Whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are the best sources of dietary fiber, but if you can’t get the recommended 25 grams every day, you can work in fiber supplements.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
The human body is 70 percent water, so it’s no surprise that we need to stay hydrated in order to remain healthy. Your body needs water to transport nutrients to cells and get rid of waste products. Water also helps control body temperature and lubricate joints, organs and tissues. The general recommendation for fluids is about eight (240 milliliters) glasses a day. Water should be the first choice, but other beverages can also count towards meeting your daily fluid needs.
- Plain, sparkling or fruit-flavored water
When it comes to balancing calories, you have control over both sides of the calorie equation. You can regulate how much goes in by counting the calories, controlling portions and keeping track of how many calories you burn every day by staying active. So whether your goal is to lose, gain or maintain your weight, the power is in your hands.