Nutrition basics: What does a balanced meal look like?

It’s all very well to be told to eat healthy, but what does a balanced meal actually look like? We take a look at your average main meal plate and what you should be putting on there.

An overview of food

To start with, let’s take a general look at food… Protein contains 4 calories per gram, carbohydrate also has 4 calories per gram, and fats have 9 calories per gram.

Many foods are a combination of the above. As you can see, if you want to lose weight, foods that contain a lot of fat aren’t doing you any favours when it comes to the weight loss battle! Healthy foods rich in protein and quality carbohydrates are not only healthier for your insides, but will often mean you won’t have to spend as much time in the gym working them off.

Fats do still have their place – however, some fats are better for you that others. When possible, opt for plant-based oils and fats, such as flaxseed oil, olive oil, canola oil, nuts, fatty fish and avocados which help with brain function and emotional health.

Protein (i.e. meats, dairy products, lentils) helps repair and grow muscle tissue, and carbohydrate acts as fuel for your body which is why these two are also important.

What should my plate look like?

If you make a fist with your hand, each main meal should have carb portion around this size, a vege/salad portion around twice that size, and a protein portion the size of the palm of your handΒ  (see plate below for examples). So basically, half your plate should be veges, quarter protein and quarter carbohydrates – even if it gets jumbled up a bit (i.e. veges making up part of a sauce).

Your plate:


food plate example

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – John Kasawa

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