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Good Nutrition Plan

By Lau Hanly

A good nutrition plan should be two things: sufficient and satisfying. For a nutrition plan to be sufficient, it must meet, but not exceed, all your daily energy needs, as well as your body's micronutrient, fiber and hydration needs. For it to be satisfying, it will need to be varied, enjoyable and straightforward to follow.

Meeting Your Macros

Your body relies on three dietary components known as macronutrients. These are protein, carbohydrate and fat. Your body needs all three to function at an optimal level, so your nutrition plan should feature each macronutrient in balanced proportions. The USDA recommends daily energy intake proportions of 45 to 65 percent from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent from protein and 20 to 35 percent from fat. You can experiment with these proportions to see which feels best for your body.

Variety Provides Micros

Eating a balanced diet -- including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy and healthy fats -- provides you with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables of different colors also gives you antioxidants and fiber. Various types of grains, such as whole grain bread, brown rice, oats and bran, also give you fiber, while a selection of dairy foods provides you with healthy bacteria for your gut.

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Nutritious Snacks

The foods and meals included in your nutrition plan should provide enough energy and enjoyment to leave you feeling satiated and satisfied, but your plan can also include healthy snack options. These snacks should be predominantly whole foods, like vegetables, nuts, natural yogurt and eggs. More indulgent options include dark chocolate, sugar-free frozen yogurt or soft cheese; these will take the edge off your cravings without loading you up with salt, sugar and unnecessary calories and carbohydrates.

Keeping Hydrated

Staying hydrated is a vital part of good nutrition. Your body relies on water, particularly for metabolism and the removal of harmful waste and toxins from your system. Drink at least eight cups of water per day, particularly if you are very active, exercise a lot or live in a hot climate. Water improves your digestion, reduces your body's craving for unhealthy foods, and helps you feel, look and function better.

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