Nutrition is something I got better at as time went along. I don’t consider myself an expert on nutrition by any means, but like you, I learned about how to have a healthy diet with a lot of research as well as trial and error. I primarily used the up-to-date Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 to help write this article to ensure all information was accurate and recent.
Bear in mind that the suggestions in this article are merely guidelines for you to set you in the right direction for your nutritional needs. Every individual will have their own needs based on a number of factors. As you become more familiar with nutrition, your body, and your fitness goals, you will naturally learn the things you need to be most successful in your journey.
This article will give a general overview to answer the question, “What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of?” You will learn the general things necessary to eat healthily, and then each food group will go more in depth. Calories will be briefly touched on as well.
Continue reading to learn more.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – General Overview
A healthy diet is essential to reaching your fitness goals, thus you must take nutrition seriously. In fact, many consider nutrition to be the hardest part of fitness. Just like your daily exercises, you must make a healthy diet a lifestyle if you want to succeed in fitness.
A healthy diet will have a variety of all the different food groups. You will want to make sure to get plenty of your fruits and vegetables. You’ll also want to ensure you’re getting plenty of whole grains and proteins from various sources. Dairy is an important part of a healthy diet if you’re not lactose intolerant. You also want to get in some healthy fats and oils while minimizing unhealthy fats. You want to try to severely limit or remove sugar and salt from your diet. Lastly, you want to ensure that you’re drinking plenty of water, if not only water.
When choosing these foods, it’s important to stay within your daily caloric limits. If you’re not sure how many calories you need every day, that is a good place to start. Knowing how many calories you need every day will help you make the appropriate dietary choices you need to make so you can meet your goals.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Grains
Grains should roughly consist of ¼ of your meal. 
Whole Grains are the primary grains you want to go after. 
You can get whole grains from things like Whole Wheat Bread, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, and Oatmeal.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Fruits, Vegetables, and Legumes
Fruits, vegetables, and legumes together should make up about ½ of your meal. 
Fruits, vegetables, and legumes provide many vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Eating foods with soluble fiber is a great way to lower LDL cholesterol. 
Make sure to get a good variety of fruits, such as apples, pineapples, pears, bananas, berries, mangos, melons, and kiwis (my favorite). You can get fruits, fresh, frozen, dried, or canned. Go for canned fruit that’s packaged in water or its own juice. Go for dried fruit with minimal sugar and salt.
Get a variety of vegetables as well, such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, watercress, carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, brussel sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, and so on. You can get vegetables fresh, frozen, or canned. Go for canned vegetables with no salt, sugar, or butter if possible.
Legumes include beans, peas, and lentils. You can get legumes fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Protein
Proteins should make up ¼ of your meal. 
You can get your protein from a variety of sources including lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy. It is very versatile and goes well with any of the other food groups.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Dairy
Dairy is good primarily for the high calcium content it provides, which is good for your bones. 
Dairy sources include milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you need to avoid dairy, there are plenty of other good sources of calcium, such as soy milk, edamame, tofu, and leafy vegetables.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Fats/Oils/Sugars/Salts
Fats are an important part of a healthy diet, but you need to know what kind of fats.
Less than 10% of your calories should come from Saturated fat. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats where possible. Keep the consumption of trans fat as low if possible if you can’t avoid it entirely. 
Good oils to consume are canola oil, olive oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil due to the essential fatty acids they provide. 
Less than 10% of your calories should come from sugar each day.  Avoid sugary foods and drinks to reduce your sugar intake considerably.
2300mg of sodium is the daily recommended amount for adults. Try to avoid eating very salty foods or foods made with added salt to reduce the risk of heart disease. 
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Water
Water should be your beverage of choice.
Drink plenty throughout the day to remain hydrated. It also has zero calories and sugar.
You should limit the intake of caffeine and milk as much as possible. It is best to avoid alcohol entirely.
What Does a Healthy Diet Consist Of? – Calories
An important part of understanding what a healthy diet is includes understanding your daily caloric needs. You need to know how many calories you should be eating per day and how many calories are in the foods you eat. Your age, gender, and daily physical activity levels determine the base amount of calories you need each day. 
Your fitness goals will help determine how many calories you should be consuming throughout the day. Make sure you take the time to find out how many calories you need to be eating to reach your goals.
A healthy diet consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, a variety of proteins, dairy, and minimal salts, sugars, and bad fats are important too. Drinking plenty of water and staying within your daily caloric needs are also essential to a healthy diet.
Now that you know the answer to the question “what does a healthy diet consist of?”, your next goal should be to figure out your daily caloric needs if you haven’t already so that you can begin to create a meal plan for yourself!
And of course, make sure you’re training to work toward your fitness goals!