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The Perfect Diet

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Every so often, a new diet is touted as the secret to good health, rapid weight loss and flatter abs. The truth is, the perfect diet is already out there — and it's a balanced diet.

A diet that provides the right amount and types of calories (energy) to maintain all the body’s systems is considered a balanced diet. 

There are three basic rules to the perfect diet: Don’t skip breakfast because it really is the most important meal of the day; eat at least three meals a day because anything less will lower your metabolism and attempt to eat food from every food group at every meal because you will ingest an adequate amount and better quality of calories.

The perfect diet consists of the types of food you learned about in the food pyramid in fifth grade. The pyramid has six food groups, each providing one or more of the three nutrients needed for survival and that build the perfect diet.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. The two main forms of carbohydrates are simple (sugars) and complex (starches). Fiber also falls under the umbrella of carbohydrates. There are four calories per every gram of carbohydrates. Carbs can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and beans.

In a balanced diet, roughly 60 percent of your calories should come from carbs. The average man between the ages of 19 and 30 needs 1,200 calories per day. Active men can add about 300 carb calories to their daily intake. The majority of the carbohydrate sources are healthy. Fruits and vegetables contain both fructose and fiber. Dairy products have carbohydrates as well as calcium. Whole grain or multigrain breads, multigrain cereals, brown rice, pasta, beans, and legumes provide fiber, B vitamins and tend to have low glycemic levels. They are broken down into glucose at a slower rate and prevent spikes in blood sugar and the mid-afternoon slump that happens when you're coming off that sugar high.

Refined sugars have no nutrients but contain calories. In a well-balanced diet, these sugars are limited. If possible, choose brown sugar or honey instead.

A balanced breakfast: To follow the perfect diet, start your day with a bowl of oatmeal made with low-fat or 2 percent milk, sweetened with low-sugar fruit preserves and chunky peanut butter.

Fats
Fat is essential for survival. It makes up the cell walls and is needed to transport and absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. A little goes a long way when it comes to fats in the perfect diet; 15 percent to 20 percent of your daily calories should come from fat. There are nine calories per gram of fat — twice the calories from one gram of carbs — which is why too much fat and not enough exercise can lead to weight gain. Fats are an important energy source during exercise but are not the first choice. The main source of fat on a balanced diet should be unsaturated fat. Saturated fats are found in meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Butter, margarine, coconut oil, palm oil, and Crisco are all examples of saturated fat. If it's solid or very thick in its natural state, and it will leave fatty deposits in your arteries and colon.

Cholesterol is another essential fat, and it is produced in the liver. It is used for cell and hormone production. Cholesterol is found in meat and dairy products. Ingesting too much saturated fat can also raise cholesterol levels. Choose olive oil or canola oil, and eat leaner cuts of meat. Fish contains the healthy fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. A hunk of salmon, a tuna steak, tilapia, or mahimahi are meaty fish that are good sources of unsaturated fat.

Fat tastes good — that's why we eat it — but it should be consumed in moderation. And that’s the key to a balanced diet. Be wary of low-fat products; the fat is usually replaced with sugar to maintain flavor. Always remember to check the labels, and eat the "regular" versions of foods and watch your portions.

A balanced lunch: A sandwich is a portable way to get a balanced meal. On 7- or 12-grain bread, have tuna fish, chicken or turkey breast, Gouda cheese, mesclun greens, and honey mustard._________________________________________________________________________

More from AskMen.com:

9 Meal Ideas To Help You Lose Weight 

Synchronize Your Diet And Cardio 

Metabolism Myths 

Dieting Made Easy 

Go Vegetarian For A Day _________________________________________________________________________

Protein
Whenever men sit around and talk about their diets, protein comes up — how much they eat, the best protein shakes to drink after a workout, the best protein powder, etc. Yes, protein is important in following the perfect diet because it builds and repairs tissue. Everything from your skin, hair, nails and, of course, your muscles are made up of protein. Just like fat, however, you can have too much of a good thing.

For active men, whose daily caloric intake is 3,000 to 3,500 calories, protein intake on a balanced diet should still be 15 percent to 20 percent (or 640 calories). Protein keeps you satiated, so it's wise to have protein with every meal, but if you're going to eat that 16-ounce steak on Monday you may want to ease off the protein for the next few days — that steak will provide 207 grams of protein, while a 190-pound man only needs a maximum of 86 grams of protein a day. That's enough to repair muscles after a workout and keep skin and hair healthy. For your post-workout refueling, a smoothie with milk, banana, strawberry, mango, yogurt, and peanut butter is a good source of protein. Products like Muscle Milk are marketed as great sources of protein, but be sure to read the label for the fat content. Remember, fat and protein go hand-in-hand.

A balanced dinner: For dinner, a salad with sliced almonds or pecans, baby shrimp, black beans, and cheese is a good choice for adequate protein.
strive for perfection

Forget fad dieting — cutting out carbs and loading up on proteins alone may help you drop the pounds, but it’s not helping you build the perfect diet. A little bit of everything in moderation is key. So, fill your plate with greens, add some protein and carbs on the side for good measure and indulge in a bite or two of fat once in a while. Your body will thank you for it

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