Everyone is talking about healthy food these days. Would you like to participate in the discussion, but do you no longer see the (healthy) forest through all those “micro’s”, “macros”, “carbs” etc.? We are happy to update you on the basics.
What do we actually mean by healthy food?
There is no general answer to that question . What exactly is healthy depends on many factors. For example, how your metabolism works, whether you have allergies, but also which foods you tolerate well and which you do not.
Athletes should eat differently than Netflixers, strength athletes should eat differently than endurance athletes and so on. But still: a few basic principles apply to everyone . The common denominator: it’s about giving your body what it needs. Only then can you stay healthy and productive. And above all, this is a little bit of everything.
carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and – with regard to the correct ratio!
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats, the so-called macronutrients , provide the calories and are the main sources of energy for your body. They are the foundation your body needs to maintain its metabolism. How much of each macronutrient you need depends on your metabolism and your goal.
By the way: whether you gain or lose weight or keep the same weight mainly depends on how many calories you take in and how much you consume . Our calorie calculator helps you determine your calorie requirement.
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats – what to watch out for
Just paying attention to the macronutrient ratio is not enough . If you were only eating croquettes, chips, pizza and pie, you could also meet your macronutrient needs. But is that healthy? Unfortunately not.
Carbohydrates – whole grain instead of white flour
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy . Your body can convert them into the energy you need faster than proteins and fats. Carbohydrates can be divided into complex and simple carbohydrates . An example:
Many breads and baked goods that do not have “whole grain” in their name mainly contain flour. Apart from pure energy in the form of simple sugars, this flower contains nothing that your body really needs. This is popularly referred to as simple carbohydrates .
Whole grain products, on the other hand, contain more complex types of sugar (carbohydrates), which are absorbed into the blood more slowly, so that you feel full for longer . Whole wheat flour also contains valuable fiber and micronutrients that are important for good health. More on this later.
Proteins – Combine different sources
Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles . They are made up of different amino acids . Amino acids are – simply put – the building blocks from which your body builds proteins. Any food that contains protein contains different amino acids. It is therefore best to combine different protein-rich foods and also include vegetable protein sources.
When you think of protein, you usually think of steak and low-fat cottage cheese. Meat and dairy products have a high protein content . It is important to buy products that come from responsible livestock farming. Antibiotics and drug residues in chicken are just as unhealthy as highly processed sausage. And m each of pasture cows contains fats better than milk from cows that do not come out of the shed.
But you don’t necessarily need meat and cheese to get enough protein. Plant foods also contain proteins. Legumes such as lentils, beans or (frog) peas, soy-based foods, but also nuts , quinoa, avocado or peanut butter provide high-quality proteins and other healthy micronutrients.
Fats – avocado, nuts and coconut oil in place of chips and sausage
Fats are divided into unsaturated and saturated fatty acids . Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, the formation of cell membranes and take over other important health functions . They are, for example, in avocado, peanut butter and olive oil.
Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are essential for your health. They support the normal function of your heart, brain and eyes . Since your body cannot produce them on its own, it must obtain omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as fatty fish, walnuts, or flaxseed oil . Athletes in particular should take in sufficient omega-3. Vegetable omega-3 capsules are also a good alternative.
You should try to avoid saturated fats from bakery products, sausages or fried foods as much as possible. There is one exception among saturated fatty acids: coconut oil . Coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acid chains serve as an energy source for your body and are not converted into love handles as quickly as other saturated fats.
Micronutrients – little helpers with a big effect
Picture a house: The macronutrients are the foundation and construction of the house. But the house also needs insulation, electricity, plaster and the like so that it can last a long time and be comfortable – the micronutrients.
Calcium, iron, vitamins, etc. are micronutrients . They are in our diet and are essential for staying healthy, fit and productive. Micronutrients are divided into vitamins, trace elements and minerals.
Vitamins – fruits and vegetables are the best suppliers
Vitamins perform various functions in your body, such as supporting your immune system. If you eat 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day , you will get enough vitamins.
Since vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble , it makes sense to add a tablespoon of chia seeds or a dash of flaxseed oil to your smoothie. This way you can be sure that you are getting all the vitamins.
Minerals and trace elements – the right macros for the right microphones
Calcium and magnesium are probably the most popular minerals. However, there are many other minerals that have vital functions in the body. For example, iron is essential for the formation of red blood cells .
The best-known trace elements are iron, zinc and iodine . Make sure you get them with your diet to stay fit and healthy. Are you an athlete? Then you probably have an increased need for nutrients and you should pay special attention to a balanced diet.
This is where the “good” macros come into play again: whole grain products often contain iron, magnesium and zinc. Zinc is also found in cheese , but also in pumpkin seeds and sesame , for example . The latter two are easy to sprinkle over your vegetables or salad, and they also have significant iron content in addition to zinc. Iron is also found in meat and many plant foods such as amaranth, millet and oatmeal. Mineral water often also provides important micronutrients.
This sounds more complicated than it is. If you know the ideal macronutrient distribution for you , appreciate the “good” macros and eat fresh fruits and vegetables regularly , little can go wrong. Important: Only the whole fruit, not the juice, contains all the valuable micronutrients. A glass of orange juice is therefore not a complete substitute for an orange.
- Calculate the optimal distribution of macronutrients for you and your goal
- Preferably eat the “good” macros – they are full of essential micronutrients
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables 3 to 5 times a day
- Eat fresh foods as much as possible
- As an athlete with an increased need for micronutrients, you can take supplements such as omega-3 , zinc and magnesium , as well as vitamins.
- If you are a vegetarian or vegan , inform yourself about plant foods that contain iron, calcium and zinc. Also make sure you get enough vitamin B12.