Eating a healthy balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is the key to weight maintenance and good health.  All experts agree on that.  The arguments start when you ask about what foods to eat, what foods to avoid and what kind of exercise is best. 

There are those that say you can eat whatever you want, as long as you limit portion sizes.  Others will say that you can eat whatever you want, as long as you consume no more than 30% of your calories from fat.  They don’t differentiate between good and bad fats, either, which is actually very important.

Then, there are the individuals and companies that say calories don’t count, as long as you cut out the carbs.  But, they don’t differentiate between good and bad carbs. 

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Whether you are currently at your ideal weight, need to gain weight or need to lose a hundred pounds, you can follow the same guidelines.  Only your caloric needs will be different.

Calories are energy or fuel to the body’s cells.  The amount of energy that your body needs depends on your weight, your age and your level of physical activity.  When you are planning a healthy balanced diet, you should be sure that it provides enough calories to support your body’s needs. 

Otherwise, you will eventually lose muscle mass and the density of your bones will be reduced.  Both of those things will cause problems as you get older.  There are calorie counters online where you can get an idea of how many calories that you need.  But, if you need to lose weight, don’t follow their guidelines. 

They promote severe calorie restriction, which will not work in the long run.  You may lose weight at first, but you won’t be able to stick with the plan, because it’s not a healthy balanced diet.  So, use the calculators only to get an idea of how many calories you need to support your body at rest and your level of physical activity.

When it comes to exercise, everyone, regardless of their age, unless they are suffering from a disease, should have a regular plan that includes some sort of aerobic activity for heart health and weight training or strength building exercises.  Research has shown that regular physical activity reduces the risk of bone loss and fractures in the elderly.  Your ultimate goal should be to live a long life, free of disease, dementia and injury.

When it comes to a healthy balanced diet, about a third of your calories should come from protein.  About a third should come from carbohydrates.  About a third should come from fat.  That would be a perfect balance.

It’s okay to play with the percentages.  But, be sure to get enough protein, at least a half gram per pound of body weight.  Choose complex, not simple carbohydrates and choose polyunsaturated, rather than saturated fat.

Avoid trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated fats, whenever possible.  Today, they are found primarily in biscuits and other baked goods.

There are many other factors to consider for a healthy balanced diet.  What you have read about here are just some of the most important.