A Certified Personal Trainer’s Point of View
Do you need some guidance on nutrition? As a personal trainer, I am here to take the complication out of nutrition and to make things simplified for you. The USDA and The US Department of Health and Human Services release dietary guidelines every 5 years. A new set of guidelines was released in 2020, and I am here to tell you that the information may change your life! I will summarize these guidelines so you will better understand them. These are 4 great diet guidelines to be healthy.
Disclaimer – Although I am a Certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not establish any kind of personal trainer-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages or injuries resulting from or related to your use of this information. You should consult a physician, a nutritionist, or a registered dietician prior to starting any workout or nutrition program.
What are the 4 Great Diet Guidelines….without getting bored?
Ok, so they picked two boring words for the title “Diet” and “Guidelines,” and I have no doubt that you will be reading these 4 great diet guidelines, right? Wrong! However, these guidelines are essential to you and your health no matter what age you are. Here is a complete copy with ALL 164 pages!
Now, before you run off, I want to tell you that I am here to help you. I want you to succeed at any goal you are trying to accomplish. That is merely the personal trainer in me. If you have read any of my articles, you will know that nutrition is everything. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician, but I have studied nutrition extensively, and I am certified as a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
As a trainer, I can tell you that you can workout for days, but if your nutrition is not on point, then you will not reach your goals.
So, what are these guidelines?
In short, these 4 great diet guidelines were created by distinguished scientists to promote health and prevent disease. In addition, they were designed for nutrition and health professionals to help others consume a healthy diet.
Want to see some eye-opening statistics?
You need to read this because your life depends on it! These statistics came straight from the Dietary Guidelines.
- About 74% of adults are overweight or obese!
- Adults ages 40 to 59 have the highest rate of obesity (43%) of any age group with adults
60 years and older having a 41% rate of obesity.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death.
- About 18.2 million adults have coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart
- About 45% of adults have hypertension.
- Almost 11% of Americans have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Almost 35% of American adults have prediabetes, and people 65 years and older have
the highest rate (48%) compared to other age groups.
- Almost 90% of adults with diabetes also are overweight or have obesity.
Now what, right? Where do you start, and how do you do it?
I’m here to help you!
As an overweight teen, I found myself asking these same questions. It seems so complicated to diet and eat right. But, as I got older I began researching nutrition and working out. I loved it so much that I became a personal trainer.
You don’t need to become a personal trainer to change your life, but I can tell you that you have already started the journey to weight loss just by reading this article! And, I must congratulate you on doing so. You need to adjust your lifestyle if you are going to stick to this. Keep in mind, that the information I am giving you here can be found in the Dietary Guidelines. This information is the foundation of what I use with clients. The more you know about nutrition, the better the outcome will be for you.
What are the 4 great diet guidelines you should follow?
Guideline 1 –Follow a Healthy Dietary Pattern at Every Stage of Life
In summary, almost anyone, no matter an individual’s age, ethnicity, race, or health status, will benefit from a healthy diet. As a baby, we only need milk for the first 6 to 8 months. After that, we rely solely on food to provide our nutrients. And, from 12 months on, you should follow a healthy diet program to meet a healthy weight and reduce the risk of getting a chronic disease.
What is a dietary pattern?
A dietary pattern “represents the totality of what individuals habitually eat and drink, and the parts of the pattern act synergistically to affect health. As a result, the dietary pattern may better predict overall health status and disease risk than individual foods or nutrients.” (Dietary Guidelines)
So over the course of a day, week or year, you will consume foods and beverages together. This is your dietary pattern.
Achieving a healthy dietary pattern early in life will definitely affect you later in life.
A healthy dietary pattern supports appropriate calorie levels. The total amount of calories you need to consume depends on your age, sex, weight, height, and activity level.
You can see my free calorie calculator at my website Fitmanfitness.com.
Guideline 2 – Customize and Enjoy Food and Beverage Choices to Reflect Personal Preferences, Cultural Traditions, and Budgetary Considerations
A healthy dietary pattern can benefit you regardless of your age, race, ethnicity, or current health status. And within your dietary pattern, you choose which foods you want to eat. The considerations from the Dietary Guidelines only convey to you the food groups or subgroups; It does not prescribe to you exactly what you need to eat. These food groups contain nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Regardless of your age, culture, or budget, there are foods that will fit into your Dietary Guidelines framework.
Begin with Personal Preference
Choose foods that not only nutrient dense but food that you want to eat.
Incorporate Cultural Preference
Choose foods that are a part of diverse cultures while still being nutrient-dense. With different spices, you can season up your food without adding sugars and sodium.
The foods you choose don’t need to be expensive. There are so many products out there that are both frozen and fresh that are packed with nutrients, yet inexpensive.
Guideline 3 – Focus on Meeting Food Group Needs With Nutrient-Dense Foods and Beverages, and Stay Within Calorie Limits
Here are some nutrient-dense foods to include in your diet. You can find this list directly in the Dietary Guidelines.
- Dark-Green Vegetables: All fresh, frozen, and canned dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli, cooked or raw. For example, broccoli, collards, kale, romaine, lettuce, spinach
- Red and Orange Vegetables: All fresh, frozen, and canned red and orange vegetables or juice, cooked or raw. For example, carrots, red or orange bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, 100% tomato juice, and winter squash
- Beans, Peas, Lentils: All cooked from dry or canned beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils. For example, black beans, black-eyed peas, edamame, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans, and split peas
- Starchy Vegetables: All fresh, frozen, and canned starchy vegetables: for example, corn, jicama, lotus root, lima beans, plantains, white potatoes, salsify, water chestnuts, yam, and yucca
- Other Vegetables: All other fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables, cooked or raw. For example, asparagus, avocado, Brussels sprouts, cabbage cactus pads (nopales), cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, luffa, mushrooms, okra, onions, radish, seaweed, snow peas, summer squash, tomatillos, and turnips
- All fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and 100% fruit juices. For example, apples, bananas, berries (e.g., blackberries, blueberries, currants, huckleberries, kiwifruit, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries); citrus fruit (e.g., calamondin, grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, and pomelos); cherries, dates, figs, grapes, guava, jackfruit, lychee, mangoes, melons (e.g., cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew, and watermelon);
Dairy and Fortified Soy Alternatives
- All fluid, dry, or evaporated milk, including lactose-free and lactose-reduced products and fortified soy beverages (soy milk), buttermilk, yogurt, frozen yogurt, dairy desserts, and cheeses. Most choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Cream, sour cream, and cream cheese are not included due to their low calcium content.
- Whole grains: All whole-grain products and whole grains used as ingredients. For example, amaranth, brown rice, oats, popcorn, quinoa, dark rye, whole-grain cornmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat chapati, whole-grain cereals, and crackers, and wild rice.
- Refined grains: All refined-grain products and refined grains used as ingredients. For example, white bread, refined-grain cereals and crackers, corn grits, cream of rice, cream of wheat, barley (pearled), masa, pasta, and white rice. Refined grain choices should be enriched.
- Meats, Poultry, Eggs: Meats include beef, goat, lamb, pork, and game meat (e.g., bison, moose, elk, deer). Poultry includes chicken, Cornish hens, duck, game birds (e.g., ostrich, pheasant, and quail), goose, and turkey. Eggs include chicken eggs and other birds’ eggs. Meats and poultry should be lean or low-fat!
- Seafood: Seafood examples: anchovy, black sea bass, catfish, clams, cod, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, hake, herring, lobster, mullet, oyster, perch, pollock, salmon, sardine, scallop, shrimp, sole, squid, tilapia, freshwater trout, light tuna, and whiting.
- Nuts, Seeds, Soy Products: Nuts and seeds include all nuts (tree nuts and peanuts), nut butter, seeds (i.e., chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower), and seed butter (e.g., sesame or tahini and sunflower). Soy includes tofu, and products made from soy flour, soy protein isolate, and soy concentrate. Nuts should be unsalted
Guideline 4 – Limit Foods and Beverages Higher in Added Sugars, Saturated Fat, and Sodium, and Limit Alcoholic Beverages
After consuming all over your nutrient-dense foods, you will have about 15% remaining calories for added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Foods containing such should be consumed in moderation.
A diet should limit sugar intake and saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day. And, adults should be consuming no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day.
These 4 great diet guidelines were written to help me as a trainer as well as to help you learn. The guidelines provide a foundation for eating healthy. Following a healthy diet pattern early in life will help you later in life. And, you should customize your dietary pattern by taking into consideration personal preference, cultural preference, and budget. Also, ensure that you have nutrient-dense food, limit the foods with added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
As I wrote before, these guidelines that I just summarized are the foundation of any healthy meal plan.
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.