Defining a Healthy Diet

So what exactly is a healthy diet? One of the most common misconceptions that people have is that they usually correlate less body weight with having a good diet. But does less body weight truly be conclusive of having a healthy diet?

A few days ago while I was browsing through the headlines in the internet, I came across an article regarding the “revised food pyramid” promoted by the Obama administration. This new food pyramid becomes a colorful plate with 4 main portions plus a cup at the side. The MyPlate is divided such that they were suggesting that a person’s diet should be consisted of grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and dairy.

MyPlate instead of the Food Pyramid
MyPlate instead of the Food Pyramid | Source

The MyPlate is a good and simplified visual representation of the proper portions of each food category for a healthy diet. But to be less simplistic, and to help you understand more about a healthy diet, let me give you a short discourse about carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. According to medical journals, it has been suggested that our diet should mainly consist of 60% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 25% fats.

So why do we actually need 60% of carbohydrates in our diet? Most people usually correlate carbohydrates intake with fat build up; but do they actually know that these carbohydrates are the primary source of energy not only by the muscles but also by the brain?

So why do we actually need 25% of fat in our diet? Most people see these fats as extra inches in their waistlines; but in-fact, these fats do play a lot of roles in our daily living. These fats serve as a membrane that covers our cells, these fats aids in the transmission of impulses from one neuron to another, so on and so forth. But not all fats are utilized by our body systems such as trans-fats (a type of fat that we get from frying).

Protein should only consist 15% of our diet as too much protein could lead to stress. According to an article of Medicinenet, cutting back on carbohydrates and adding more protein on the diet leads to dehydration. Dehydration temporarily decreases our body weight, but will eventually cause stress on the kidneys and the heart. Too much protein also causes bad breath. In addition to that, protein discourages calcium absorption by the bones. In the book What to Eat by Marion Nestle, she discusses about the American diet adding too much protein in their diet, thus affecting the proper calcium absorption in our bones. Americans consume more milk than any other people on earth but still get problems on the bones. Why? Because as you increase your protein intake, you decrease your chances of calcium intake (Nestle, 2007).

Diets vary depending on their geographic location and financial capabilities. Like the people who reside along the beaches have more fishes in their diets, those who reside along the farms have more vegetables in their diets and those who frenzy these fast-food chains usually have more fats in their diets. So how can we actually formulate the healthy diet plan suited to our needs? Simple, eat everything in moderation and you won’t have to worry about your blood-works!

© seriousnuts 2011. All rights reserved.

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Comments 37 comments

cheerfulnuts profile image

cheerfulnuts 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I've learned a lot from this hub. I think MyPlate looks better (and cuter) than the Food Pyramid! Great hub. A vote up from cheerfulnuts! =)

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

You're right, it's more interesting yet simple. Thanks for dropping by, cheerfulnuts. :)

fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

I think we have lost our natural ability to feel our body. I think that naturally our body know how and when it needs to eat. For return to listen it we must first change our habits and have a healthy diet, such as that recommanded from MyPlate.

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Well said fucsia. Thanks for your comment!

DrHCo 5 years ago

another very interesting hub! keep up the good work!

Temirah profile image

Temirah 5 years ago

This is really interesting and a good update on the food pyramid. Clear points made by clear writing - thank you, I've learned today!

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Thank you DrHCo and Temirah for your kind comments. I'm glad you learned something from my hub.

DrHCo 5 years ago

your welcome.. i hope to see more of your health hub topics!

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

The dietary recommendations provided are not ideal.

Your macronutrient ratio should be based on desired body composition. For example: if you want to lose fat and retain muscle, you would aim to hit 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.

Countless controlled peer reviewed studies observe that a calorie restricted diet is the only way to lose weight. Law of thermodynamics. Those same studies show that losing weight leads to improved health markers all across the board. So yes any type of weight loss is healthy.

Does the diet type matter (ie. low carb vs low fat)? No. Studies show that when calories are restricting, no diet is superior to another.

Lastly, in a calorie restricted diet, fats are the answer for keeping your energy up!

Hope this answers some questions.

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

@seriousnuts: You really are serious about this ideal healthy diet.

Thanks for clarifying the issue on the proportions we must consume for the three basic food groups (the Go-carbo; Grow-protein; Glow-regulating foods).

You're right, all kinds of food should be eaten in moderation. Too much of everything is bad for our health.

May I add this jargon, " Eat like a king during breakfast; eat like a prince during lunch time and eat like a beggar during dinner."

Meaning, the metabolism works faster during breakfast, until it lessens during the evening.

I have this friend whose weight is beyond the normal standard. She tried all the dieting, exercises regimen at the gym and the like, but to no avail. She's still obese, because she cannot refuse the presence of soft drinks and fast food take-outs.

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks FitnessTom for the additional information! I highly appreciate it.

Travel_man1971, thank you for your kind words! I like the saying you added in your comment. Very well said!

Web World Watcher profile image

Web World Watcher 5 years ago

This is a very interesting article. Are you familiar with a certain type of diet regime that advocates only mixing certains foods of acidity and alkalinity with other food of its type. I'm not sure how valid a diet like that would be. Thought maybe you would know...i think of it is called the Gracie Diet

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

I've heard about it. The Gracie Diet was developed by a martial artist, and I'm not quite sure about the science behind it. But it sure is interesting. People have different views on diet. As for me, a balanced diet is sufficient. Thanks for reading my hub, and welcome to Hubpages! :)

DrHCo 5 years ago

TO fitness TOM :

I would just like to comment on some issues regarding your recommended diet per se. A high protein diet will only be beneficial for people lifting weights; otherwise, the excess proteins will be detrimental to your health such as risks of kidney failure by the way. Well with that kind of a diet, I would recommend you to have your blood works and check for your BUN and creatinine levels.

Also, you are concluding that any type of weight loss is healthy. Apparently, several factors such as cancer causes weight loss, anorexia causes weight loss, dehydration can cause weight loss etc.. . so tell me, are these types of weight loss good for your health? Of course not!

For your information, our body system utilizes several mechanisms to keep your energy up. Carbohydrates are the PRIMARY source of your ATP’s, you can actually look them up in all the biochemistry books by the way. Fats tend to serve as our SECONDARY source of energy during prolonged exercises such as jogging for 30mins and up.

True! A calorie restricted diet may help you stay fit, but I strongly suggest you do a little bit more research why your body needs more carbohydrates than fats.

Lastly, controlled peer reviewed studies are not utilized in the medical field because of its inconsistencies and unreliability. I hope these statements will persuade you to do more researches before leaving unreliable statements. Have a good day!

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

Thanks for your response, but you took things I said way out of context.

I was not recommending a high protein diet, but aiming for 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body mass is a perfectly healthy way to retain muscle. Yes it is more important to lifters, but many others might find this interseting as well. This was merely an example, not a recommendation.

Why are we talking about weight loss from cancer, dehydration, etc? If you are overweight/obese and you put in effort to reduce your weight, health markers will improve all across the board. This is all I am saying.

Thanks for letting me know how the body utilizes energy, but I don't think anything I said indicated I lacked this type of understanding.

Your body does NOT need more carbohydrates than fats and where do you think medical professionals get their data from? Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which are not at all inconsistent when properly carried out.

Having said that if you can provide any RCTs that contradict what I said, please do so, otherwise please don't disqualify quality information that could help many people realize losing weight and becoming healthier is not so difficult.

I believe you sir are the one that needs to do more research. Here is a start: : Comparison of a low-fat diet to a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, body composition, and risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in free-living, overweight men and women.

"These data suggest that energy restriction achieved by a very LC diet is equally effective as a LF diet strategy for weight loss and decreasing body fat in overweight and obese adults."

Thank you and have a nice day!

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago


I wanted to point out that meal frequency and timing as a strategy for weight loss is a huge myth. This is a type of "broscience" that has spread all over the internet and fitness areas, but has no actual scientific backing!

You can eat 1 meal a day or 10. Eat your only meal right before bed. No difference on weight loss. Rather than post studies here and make my comment excessively long, I urge you to check out my hub on meal frequency. Cheers.

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello FitnessTom, thank you for taking an interest on this article. You might be correct in your own way, but I completely agree with DrHco. This article is intended for most people, a diet that the average person could follow. Also, I am not promoting any weight loss program in this particular hub.

If you are an athlete or a body builder, then I agree with you, this recommendation would not be applicable. You need to have a specific diet for that, thus requiring consultation with a nutritionist. Thanks for the input. More power to your hubs!

thesailor profile image

thesailor 5 years ago from Seven Seas

My Greek captain or ship master used to have this special diet because he's working out and he's encouraging us to do so.

I used to boil 10 eggs every morning, remove the yellow part and retain the whites for him. He's also taking whey supplements to boost his muscles.

seriousnuts is not promoting specific diet for weight loss or workout. Fitness Tom is. Good for him, too, because he's making specific replies in every comment posted here. Thanks for that and we're learning too much from you.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

Seriousnuts: sadly, it seems that you might be paying attention to my avatar and not the science I am presenting.

This has nothing to do with bodybuilding of lifting.

Macronutrient composition is based on your specific needs (that is the whole point of my comments). The 1-1.5 grams of protein per body pound is an EXAMPLE. Weight loss is calories in calories out. It never gets more complicated than that unless you have a medical condition. It is important to realize this.

DrHco failed to provide any evidence to support his claims, I did. Do you really fail to see the difference? To blanketly dismiss scientific research (for any reason - be it differences in outcomes or other) is unwise, since you'd be left with nothing more than hearsay, anecdote, & subjective opinion. These are very weak bases on the evidence continuum. I would be embarrassed for any doctor to actually adopt this stance.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

Postprandial Thermogenesis Is Increased 100% on a High-Protein, Low-Fat Diet versus a High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fat Diet in Healthy, Young Women

"These data indicate an added energy-cost associated with high-protein, low-fat diets and may help explain the efficacy of such diets for weight loss."

DrHCo 5 years ago

Tom, my apologies. apparently we are not on the same page. My perspective towards nutrition and proper health is inclined in a more biochemical and medical point of view which i think fitness instructors wouldn't even comprehend. You have your own perspectives as a gym instructor, likewise i have mine as a doctor.

and if you must know, this is my source:

I suggest you purchase the full article of this study as not to give false pieces of advice to your future clients! thank you!

DrHCo 5 years ago

Anyway, this will be my last post regarding this issue. I appreciate your views regarding this issue tom but the source you provided me with has very little credibility for Doctors. You should also understand that every study has a certain level of credibility.

To seriousnuts, this article is credible and i can support it with several medical journals and books. I hope to read more of your hubs!

cheerfulnuts profile image

cheerfulnuts 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

DrHCo, thank you for your link. I'm very impressed with your knowledge and I salute you. Seems like a lot has been going on around here. It's nice to see different points of view from different people. I'm learning a lot from all the comments here. However, it's really up to the readers to choose which diet they will adapt. This is a very interesting hub.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

2 things just happend here people:

1. I presented scientific studies to back up my points.

2. "dr"hCo didnt. Instead he attacked my credibility and assumed I am some sort of "gym rat" based on my avatar. This was a cop out. Not even a good one. What are you trying to sell? Displaying a level of arrogance instead of actually addressing the science is a horrible approach, I hope you learn from this.

I still await for him to provide any scientific data (a peer reviewed study not an article) to back up his claims. Any good doctor uses studies to further enhance their knowledge. I suspect he won't return though.

What is better evidence? Someone who claims to be a doctor and uses anecdotal evidence to back up his claims, or randomized controlled trials which is the scientific method in this world.

Good luck to everyone!

DrHCo 5 years ago

Don't get me wrong gym instructor. Mind you that not all RCT's have high levels of credibility. In fact, most RCT's may need other RCT's to back their claims. So please do read the part of the study where they mentioned about the limitation of that specific study. Also, the article i gave you comprises of the most recent principles accepted in the medical field and I am assuming that you haven't read them yet nor am i expecting you to do so.

So don't take this too personally Tom. I am simply fulfilling my duties as a licensed doctor by giving these people credible information that may actually use. Have a nice day.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

Does anyone else realize that if I made my name DoctorTom instead, he would have no way of debunking anything I said?

Okay "Dr"Hco.. a low fat, high carb diet right? One RCT is not enough as you said so here is another:

Metabolic effects of weight loss on a very-low-carbohydrate diet compared with an isocaloric high-carbohydrate diet in abdominally obese subjects.

Under isocaloric conditions, VLCHF and HCLF diets result in similar weight loss. Overall, although both diets had similar improvements for a number of metabolic risk markers, an HCLF diet had more favorable effects on the blood lipid profile. ----------- keep in mind that not all studies say that HCLF has better results on lipid profiles just this one but the main point is, calories = weight loss = better health.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

But 2 RCTs is not enough either right? So here is a meta-analysis of many RCTs from many scientific databases on the effectiveness of low-fat diets:

Advice on low-fat diets for obesity.

The review suggests that fat-restricted diets are no better than calorie restricted diets in achieving long term weight loss in overweight or obese people. Overall, participants lost slightly more weight on the control diets but this was not significantly different from the weight loss achieved through dietary fat restriction and was so small as to be clinically insignificant.

I await your ability to debunk any of these RCT's without talking about me, just the science I presented. Plenty more RCT's for you to look at if you want as well. This is just a small sample.

DrHCo 5 years ago

“An alternative approach to calorie restriction is to lower the fat content of the diet. However, the long-term effects of fat-restricted diets on weight loss have not been established.” Cited from Advice on low-fat diets for obesity by Pirozzo S, Summerbell C, Cameron C, Glasziou P.. Tom you should learn how to read between the lines and stop arguing like a child. Your statements clearly contradicts the studies you hastily copy pasted to compensate for your lack of knowledge regarding these issues. And another thing Tom, I worked my brains to earn the title Doctor, not my muscles.

Look, we both proved our points and i respect your opinions. So why don't we call it a day and let the viewers decide whose opinion to follow.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

You didn't prove any point at all sir. Lowering fat content means lowering calories. Common sense a gram of fat = 9 calories. There you go again wtih the DR comment. Certifications are irrelevent compared to the science.

I study biochem too, thanks for assuming otherwise. Again, I wonder.. what are you trying to sell?

It is irresponsbile to flag the DR title around instead of actually addressing the science I provided. The studies I referenced still remain unrefuted. Stop telling me I am arguing like a child or that I lack understanding and actually prove the science I provided wrong. It's not about me.

Best of luck to you and congrats on your MD.

FitnessTom profile image

FitnessTom 5 years ago

Pretty soon I will invite other "drs" here to refute what you're saying. Maybe since they have MD too you will learn to have an open mind.

Dianemae profile image

Dianemae 5 years ago

Different picture, but the words are still the same..plan a good health diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, low fat, low sugar and you will do okay. Good article.

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

I agree with you Dianemae. A diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, low fat, and low sugar is definitely healthy. Thanks for dropping by!

TroyM profile image

TroyM 5 years ago

it's very valuable hub and interesting. Keep it up.

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks TroyM! I'm glad you liked my hub.

Thek1ngsway profile image

Thek1ngsway 5 years ago

I think you have some in accuracies in your hub , but nonetheless you make some interesting points !

whoisbid profile image

whoisbid 5 years ago

Hey! Just stopping by. I have to admit I would find it hard to chose food that my stomach tells me not to eat. Recently I have been eating a lot of garbage but losing weight because I am writing a lot and am always drained from the internet...LOL!

seriousnuts profile image

seriousnuts 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Thek1ngsway, thank you for stopping by!

Whoisbid, it's nice to hear from you again! LOL. You should try watching your diet though. Working hard and not eating right is still bad for your health. Thanks for dropping by!

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