A diet built on a foundation of healthy food choices has plenty of benefits including weight loss, increased energy and disease prevention. A healthy diet allows you to eat unhealthy foods sometimes, provided you make the right choices most of the time. A healthy lifestyle is about balance, not deprivation.
1. Weight Loss. Eating healthy encourages weight loss because switching from unhealthy junk to healthy alternatives reduces calorie intake. Junk food is made up of empty calories: foods high in energy but low in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Making smarter food choices (replacing doughnuts, soda, candy, fruit juice and fast food with healthier choices such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lean meats and whole wheat bread/pasta) reduces calorie intake, leading to weight loss. Replacing bad foods with good ones is the easiest way to lower calorie intake; no calorie counting is required.
2. Energy. Healthy foods provide long lasting energy helping you perform optimally throughout the day. Junk food creates a big spike in energy followed by an equally big crash. Foods high in sugar cause these crashes because they are digested very quickly. Quick digestion floods the body with a large amount of energy in a short period of time. Healthy foods offer a much longer digestion time giving you a slower, more stable release of energy without the crash.
3. Gain Muscle. Too often, gaining weight/muscle is seen as a blank check to eat everything in sight. Gaining weight requires a combination of more food (calorie surplus) and strength training. Eating too much junk leads to excessive fat buildup because junk is high in calories. Eating bigger meals is also a bad way to increase calorie intake. Instead, add small, healthy snacks throughout the day. Smaller more frequent meals allows the body to better utilize energy. Stay away from junk food and focus on building a diet with healthy options such as unsaturated fats, lean proteins and complex carbs.
4. Look Good. Junk food causes unsightly fat buildup because it's higher in calories than healthier options. Replacing large amounts of regularly eaten junk food with healthier options is an easy way to automatically reduces calorie intake causing weight loss and a reduction in body fat.
5. Health. The most important reason to eat healthy is to stay (or get) in peak condition. The type of food you eat has an enormous impact on overall health. Unsaturated fat provides protection from cardiovascular disease. Fiber lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and prevents certain types of cancers. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants which protect against a wide variety of cancers.
The Bottom Line
Eating healthy food prevents disease, improves appearance and helps with weight loss/gain. Do not confuse a healthy diet with depriving yourself of the foods you love. A balanced diet occasionally includes unhealthier options given you make the right choices more often than not.