For our bodies to function properly and stay healthy, a nutritious diet is crucial.

Foods are made up of 6 classes of nutrients – macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and water. If you don’t have the right combination of these 6 items, it’s hard to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve weight-loss goals.

Sound nutrition does amazing things. Get to a healthy weight and you also reduce risk of chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and even depression.

Protein

Protein provides the building blocks of muscle and helps release fat-burning hormones.

When you eat foods containing protein, they are broken down as amino acids. These amino acids are then used to build and repair muscle tissue. Every tissue in your body is made up of protein, so it’s important to consume enough throughout the day, to replenish it. Protein is also needed to help your immune and nervous systems.

Carbohydrates

Carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years. You need carbohydrates on a daily basis. They give you energy to function properly. When carbs are ingested, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps carbs be stored in the muscles or as fat. Stored carbs are known as glycogen. Glycogen is important to have in your body before working out. It is an energy supply that enables you to achieve better fat-loss results.

Carbs need to come first from vegetables, then fruit, then whole grains (such as quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, and sweet potatoes).

Fats

You need fat to burn fat. Stored fats are our main source of energy. They keep our body warm during cold weather and lubricate our joints. They also store fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. And a big plus, fat stabilizes blood sugar and controls hunger.

The trick is understanding which fats do positive things. You want to have more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and limit saturated fats.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals found in food are important, to function properly and allow chemical reactions to occur at a faster rate. Vegetables and fruits are very good sources of these. Shoot for 6 to 9 servings per day!

Water

Water is needed for our bodies to survive and is as important as any aspect of a healthy diet. It also acts as a detox and cleanse for your body. Getting enough water will help with weight loss, energy, digestive health, heart health, and even reduces cancer risk.

An easy formula to know if you are getting enough: half your body weight (in ounces), not to exceed 150 ounces. If you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water every day, or about 9, 8-ounce glasses. (64 ounces = 1 gallon.)