Perfect Diet What It Is How to Do It and What to Eat

When we talk about the perfect diet, we often make the mistake of associating it with the one to get a ” perfect body “. This is not the case; or rather, it does not have to be. A good ratio between lean mass and fat mass is indeed associated with better health than being overweight due to excess fat. Within physiological limits “, having good muscle levels and low body fat levels protects us from metabolic pathologies, cardio-cerebrovascular events, tumors, joint diseases, etc. Let’s not forget, however, that too low a body fat can compromise the sexual steroid hormone axis – especially in women – and that extraordinarily abundant muscle mass is often correlated with the use of doping substances.

What is Meant by a Perfect Diet? Does It Exist? Why?

As can be deduced, the title “perfect” is an intentionally “provocative” qualification. In reality, no eating style can be optimal for everyone.

By respecting some principles and adapting them to one’s condition, it is certainly possible to establish a healthy and balanced diet. Perfection, on the other hand, does not exist even in the nutritional field.

To be honest, it is also logical that it is so. Our organism has evolved to develop flexibility and adaptability that allow not only survival but also full health in potentially critical conditions – caloric insufficiency, vitamin and mineral scarcity, etc.

This concept should be extended to any purpose, including diet therapies against excess weight (to lose weight ) and ” diseases of well-being “, nutritional strategies aimed at the gym – or in any case with high aesthetic purposes, for example, to enhance the abdominals (definition) or to increase muscle mass – etc.

Even in these cases, it is completely impossible for us to “baptize” a perfect diet that is good for everyone; what, on the other hand, does not seem to change are the biochemical and biological mechanisms underlying any physiological reaction.

To give some indicative examples:

  • The slimming diet by definition is low-calorie, that is, it provides fewer calories than the normal requirement. This is true for everyone, even if, “almost” with the same anthropometric characteristics and physical activity, some people tend to lose weight very effectively and others do not. Be careful! Subjectivity must not, however, take on the role of an alibi; losing weight less does not mean “not losing weight at all”;
  • The optimal distribution of energy macronutrients, respectively carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, is not the same for everyone. For reasons of physical activity or metabolic aptitude, some “function” better with higher levels of carbohydrates, some others with fats, and others still with proteins. Attention! All of this has maximum and minimum limits beyond which it is impossible to remain efficient and healthy;
  • Given the same levels of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, some people of the same sex and with similar general characteristics experience hypercholesterolemia and others do not. The same applies to purine intake associated with hyperuricemia.
  • By following the same dietary rules, some suffer from constipation and others from diarrhea.

How to Plan a Perfect Diet?

Characteristics of a perfect diet

A diet can be defined as correct if it is satisfactory from a quantitative point of view, that is if it guarantees the intake of energy and every single nutrient in the right quantities.

The diet, however, must also be qualitatively balanced; in fact, it is not enough to guarantee the right quantities of nutrients, because, even if it is correct from a quantitative point of view, a diet of this type could still be inadequate.

While we will discuss nutritional balance in more detail in the following paragraphs, let’s look at a simple example to better understand these concepts.

The recommended ratio of carbohydrates is established for the Italian population between 55 and 65% of total daily calories; some individuals may find themselves in the position of satisfying their needs by respecting this percentage exactly, while still following an incorrect diet.

This is the case, for example, of those who do not respect the right proportion between added soluble carbohydrates and starches, reducing the latter in favor of the former. A diet that is perpetually unbalanced in this sense (therefore rich in sugary drinks, sweets, etc.) can create, in the long term, a pathological condition called diabetes.

Therefore, on the one hand, we must ensure that 55-65% of total calories have a carbohydrate origin, on the other hand, we will ensure that no more than 10-12% comes from simple carbohydrates naturally present in foods; the use of added soluble sugars must be “one-off”.

Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, whose onset is strongly influenced – in addition to genetic factors – by physical inactivity, obesity, and the aforementioned eating disorders, is an example of a disease that can be effectively controlled but cannot be cured. A “perfect” diet must also be: adequately distributed, balanced, varied, and optimal.

Still referring to the percentage of carbohydrates, there is however a further clarification to be made. 55-65% of CHO refers above all to a noncaloric diet and, in any case, several studies have shown that carbohydrate reduction up to 45% does not cause any health problems.

This depends on several factors. The higher the daily muscle carbohydrate consumption – for example in endurance athletes – the higher the CHO fraction must be. The lower the level of physical activity, or the higher the fasting blood glucose, the potentially greater the benefits of a diet with carbohydrate levels close to the lower margin.

Perfect calorie distribution of meals

As time goes by, we tend to give less importance to the energy distribution of meals. If a person can stay at a normal weight and healthy by eating 2, 5, or 8 meals a day, why not do it?

It is different for subjects who complain of overweight, malnutrition, general weakness, or who practice high-load training sports. Such circumstances may require a more studied distribution of meals and, sometimes, difficult to conceive for a non-expert.

Furthermore, if for example, we tried to satisfy the caloric requirement in a single daily meal, the enormous quantity of food consumed all at once would compromise digestion and favor the onset of hiatal hernia, excessive gastroesophageal reflux, etc.

Nevertheless, reasonable nutritional timing helps prevent gallstones, optimizes intestinal function, maintains stable blood sugar levels and blood pressure, etc.

A “perfect” caloric distribution requires that the daily food intake be distributed into five main meals, of which three are the most important in terms of weight (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Breakfast should provide about 15-20% of total calories, lunch, and dinner 40-35% each, while the remaining 10% should be covered by the afternoon and morning snacks.

On the other hand, there is a segment of the population that “functions correctly” by adopting strategies close to intermittent fasting. Perhaps because, at certain times of the day, they do not feel any sense of appetite (perhaps because the level of physical activity is very low), they also spend 12-14 hours without eating.

Metabolic parameters remain stable and the feeling of well-being is unchanged. What can I say: in that case, why not? If on the other hand discomfort and other complications were to arise, the intervention will focus on better nutritional timing.

Nutritional balance of energy macronutrients

It is not only important to establish the amount of calories we need, but it is also necessary to distribute them in a balanced way among the various nutrients; in this regard, the guidelines for the Italian population recommend taking 10-12% of calories in the form of proteins, 25-30% in the form of fats and 55-65% in the form of carbohydrates.

Proteins must also be correctly distributed according to their source: 1/3 of them should be of vegetable origin, while 2/3 should be of animal origin.

Fatty acids should be divided into 55% monounsaturated, 20% polyunsaturated (at least 12 grams per day) and 25% saturated.

As for the recommended ratio of essential fatty acids, a minimum intake of 2% of total daily calories is recommended for ω6 (linoleic acid) and 0.5-1.0% of total daily calories for ω3 (alpha-linolenic acid). It is also recommended to increase EPA and DHA (semi-essential omega-3 fatty acids ) in conditions of childhood, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and old age.

Cholesterol intake should be less than 300 mg/day, while trans fatty acids should not exceed 5 gal/day (other authors impose lower limits, in the order of two grams/day).

Following a balanced diet also means correctly distributing the various types of carbohydrates and ensuring the right amount of dietary fiber, which, although not a nutrient, has very important repercussions on a person’s health; an adult needs 30 grams of fiber per day, while for growing children the optimal intake is around 0.5 grams per kg of body weight (or a quantity between age plus 5 and age plus 10 expressed in grams, undoubtedly more appropriate for overweight children).

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