What is plate composition, you ask? Well, all macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, are important for basic body functions, and the proportions of each of these nutrients on your plate can affect your health and body composition. Our aim this year is to help you delve deep into personalising your nutrition so that you know how much of each nutrient you should be eating, and which foods you should be selecting.
Most of your meals should contain all three macronutrients. Even low fat or low carb diets still allow for some fats and carbohydrates in your diet. How much of each macronutrient you eat at each meal will depend on your DNAfit results, goals and overall calorie requirements.
A healthy diet should always include fibre-dense, complex carbohydrates. Grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit all contain carbohydrates - just be sure to make smart choices!
When choosing grains (rice, cereals, quinoa, bread) the higher the fibre content, the better so choose brown, wholegrain versions. Legumes and starchy vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, peas, beans) also contain fibre so they are a good choice too. One serving of starch is half a cup or one slice of bread.
Fruit often has a bad reputation for being high in fructose, a naturally occurring sugar. Despite the fructose, however, fruit is a good carbohydrate choice. They are packed with fibre and antioxidants - just be sure to opt for fresh fruits over dried or juiced fruits. One fruit serving is one whole fruit, or half a cup of chopped fresh fruit.
Non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, contain very small amounts of carbohydrates and plenty of fibre. This is why they are often called ‘free vegetables’. As the name suggests, they can be eaten in larger quantities without drastically increasing your carbohydrate intake for the day.
Your genetic carbohydrate sensitivity will advise the extent to which carbohydrates should contribute to your daily calories. Those who genetically have a higher sensitivity to carbs will need to lower their carbs to about 30% of their total calories, while those who are not as carb sensitive can have closer to 50% of their total calories from carbohydrates. A moderate carbohydrate responder would fall somewhere in the middle, with about 40% of total calories coming from carbohydrates.
Because the amount of carbohydrates you should eat is a percentage of your total calories, the actual amount you eat will change according to your calorie requirements. Thirty percent of 1500 calories would look very different to 30% of 2500 calories. In general, someone following a low carbohydrate diet can have at least three portions of fruit and two portions of starch per day. A higher carbohydrate diet on the other hand would allow at least four portions of fruit and four portions of starch per day. In both instances, free vegetables would be unrestricted.
Fat is an incredibly dense source of energy. Even a small portion of fat can provide a large amount of calories. Plant-based fats such as oils, avocado, nuts and seeds should always be prioritised above saturated fats, especially in those who are genetically sensitive to fats. Saturated fat is found in most animal protein sources such as meat, dairy and eggs, as well as coconut products.
Similarly to carbohydrates, your genetic optimal diet type can also advise how much fat you should be eating. A low carbohydrate diet, typically consists of 50% calories from fat and is suitable for those with a lower fat sensitivity. A low fat diet, on the other hand, is suitable for those who genetically respond poorly to fat and will have 30% calories from fat. Those advised to eat a moderate carbohydrate diet, should balance this out with an equally moderate fat intake, with 40% of their calories from fat.
The real-world number of portions of fat per day would again depend on your calorie requirements. A low fat plan can sometimes allow as little as two added fat portions per day, whereas a low carb plan would allow a minimum of six added fat portions per day. A single serving of most oils and added fats is one teaspoon, or one tablespoon of avocado.
Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy are fantastic sources of animal protein. For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, good protein sources include: legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils), nuts, seeds, and grains such as quinoa.
For healthy people, about 20 % of total daily calories should be coming from protein, but this may be slightly higher if you are exercising and looking to build muscle. Most of us require at least 8 portions of protein per day. One protein serving is equivalent to 30g of meat, chicken or fish, or one egg. We usually eat 90g of meat (or more) in a sitting, giving you three protein servings or one palm of your hand. If you opt for the veggie alternative, half a cup of legumes, two tablespoons of nut butter, or a quarter cup of nuts and seeds is about one serving of protein. Keep in mind that legumes can be used as a starch serving as well.
When you tweak your macronutrients according to your genetic needs as recommended by DNAfit, you will be working with your body instead of against it. Complete removal of any of the macronutrients is never recommended. Adjusting the proportion of macronutrients, however, can yield amazing results! Improvement of your diet is intrinsic to your health and when combined with training you will see how you will be feeling fitter, fresher, and younger, while seeing results quicker.
This information applies only if you have taken a DNAfit test and know your results so you can personalise your DNAfit plate. For those who don't yet have the insights on their nutritional and dietary needs, we have a Diet Fit test in store to help you get started on your DNAfit journey.