Dietary Guidelines



Eat 3-6 meals daily (Rationale)

  • Plan meals around moderate or intense exercise
    • Plan snack or meal 1 to 2 hours before
    • Eat higher carbohydrate meal very soon after exercise (Rationale)
      • carbohydrates and quality proteins in approximately 4:1 ratio
      • post-workout meal should be 10 – 20% of total daily caloric intake
      • eat Starch or Fruit exchange(s) for carbohydrates

Eat protein every meal and snack

  • Eat lower fat Meat or Meat Substitute or Milk exchange.
  • Combine foods to complement proteins (optimizes amino acid ratio)
    • Eat legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts) with grains, seeds, or nuts
    • Eat grains with milk or cheese

Eat fruits or vegetables every meal and snack (Rationale)

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (see vegetables and starchy vegetables)
    • See Vegetable and Fruit Color Codes
  • Eat vitamin C rich foods
    • At least 1 serving a day
    • Citrus fruit, tomatoes, fresh melons, strawberries
  • Eat cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family)
    • At least 3 servings per week
    • Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, cress, and bok choy
  • Eat vitamin A rich foods
    • At least 1 serving every other day
    • Dark leafy greens, and dark yellow foods

Eat foods with fiber (Rationale)

  • Whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils)

Eat calcium rich foods

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Green leafy vegetables, kelp, bean sprouts, tofu, garbanzo beans, canned salmon, sardines, or jack mackerel (with tiny bone particles), oysters, figs, almonds, chestnuts, filberts, sesame seeds.

Eat healthy fats and limit less healthy fats

  • Include sources of Omega-3 fats
    • fatty fish, walnuts, flax seed, chia seeds, avocado, beans, winter squash
  • Consume mono-unsaturated fats (Rationale)
    • olives, avocado, almonds, cashews, pecans, peanuts, sesame seeds
    • olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil
  • Limit consumption of Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fats (Rationale)
    • salad dressing, mayonnaise
    • corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil
    • check food labels for oils high in Omega-6
  • Adjust saturated fat based on caloric requirements (Rationale & Counter Argument )
    • meats or meat substitutes
    • milk and yogurt
  • Eliminate extraneous sources of Trans-fats (Rationale)
    • avoid hydrogenated fats
    • check food labels
  • Do not exceed cooking oil’s smoke point (Rationale)

Eat according to activity level, body type, and goals

  • Eat enough adequate calories to sustain energy and maintain metabolism
    • Find Calorie Requirements
      • Eat enough calories to keep metabolism high
      • If calorie intake is significantly low, see Starvation Effect
    • Make adjustments to diet as energy requirements change
      • See Calorie Expenditure Calculator
  • Adjust carbohydrates and calorie intake, according to activity level, body type , and age
    • Younger or lean individuals as well as those with high activity levels may be able to utilize more carbohydrates and overall calories.
    • Older individuals and those with excess body fat or low activity will require less carbohydrates and overall calories.
      • Consider minimum amount of carbohydrates that will sustain energy while maintaining or lowering body fat
      • See Macronutrient Ratio & Weight Loss Studies .
  • Consume calories and macronutrients according to goals
    • Gain muscle
      • See Building Muscle Mass for systematic approach for muscle mass increases while minimizing fat gain.
    • Lower body fat
      • See Diet Development and Weight Loss Tips for systematic approach for fat loss while maintaining muscle mass.
    • Sports performance or active lifestyle
      • Monitor progress and adjust diet accordingly
      • See Diet Development
    • See Exchange Lists for macronutrients in each food group

Limit refined foods

  • Eat whole foods whenever possible
  • Limit white bread, cereals, and other processed foods
  • Limit sugar consumption
    • found in soda pop, juices, and sweets
    • check food labels to detect hidden sugars
      • see finding sugar on food labels
  • Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one serving per day

Limit cured and smoked products

  • Salt-cured, smoked, nitrite cured foods

Avoid plastic food and beverage containers (Rationale)

  • Particularly when choosing and storing acidic foods or foods containing fats
  • Especially when heating food in microwave
  • Avoid commercially canned foods and aluminum cans with plastic linings
    • see Consumer Reports Video

Eat a variety of foods from each food group every day (Rationale)

  • Try new foods



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