The good, the bad and the ugly of nutrition

Food you need lots of, less of and what to avoid completely

The good, the bad and the ugly of nutrition

From one day to the next eggs are great for you then bad again, meat is either completely necessary or absolutely deathly, and bread will either make you lose weight or gain it. There are so many social media influencers trying to evoke conversation that even fruit is getting a bad name! 

Here, with help from our nutritionist Anna, we bust the myths and break down the science for a list of simple factors to live by. What you should be eating lots of, less of and what to avoid completely. 


The 80-20 split 

Think of it this way, at least 80% of your diet should be made up of complete nutrition. Ensure your body is getting the nutrients and fuel it needs to function in the best way possible. Whilst the 80% is necessary to live a healthy life and prevent various diseases, you’ll be doing your overall health a disservice if you deprive yourself of enjoying the good things in life! That’s why up to 20% of your diet can be made up of the ‘less nutritious’ section. 


80% - nutritious - food for the body

20% - less nutritious - food for the soul

0% - bad - food to avoid! 


Nutritious food - the 80%


CARBS should be about 50% of your diet! 

Carbs are your main source of energy for the body. The body breaks down the complex carbs to glucose and then uses the glucose as an energy source in muscle, brain and other cells. Carbs are so important that they should make up about 50% of your diet! 

Complex carbohydrates

We’re talking bread, pasta, rice, potatoes with skin, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet. Yes, whole grain is more ‘nutritious’ than refined grains because it has more fibres and minerals but think about it - as long as you’re getting enough of those in your overall diet then your white bread and pasta is just fine! 


Try to consume 25-38g of FIBER daily

Simply, fibre can be defined as carbohydrates that cannot be fully digested in our gut e.g whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and mushrooms. 

Why fibre is great 

Fibre prevents caries in the oral cavity, regularises bowel movements, lowers bad cholesterol levels, and controls blood sugar.

If you don't already eat a lot of fibre, avoid excessive digestion disruption by slowly introducing small amounts into your diet. 


PROTEIN is more than for exercise 

Protein is a major component of every cell in the body. Proteins help the muscle to grow and recover faster after exercise. The general advice for daily protein consumption is 0,8 g per kg of your body weight and if you do sports this goes up to 2 g per kg of your body weight. 

Animal vs non-animal sources of protein 

Proteins are made up of amino acids. For a complete protein, all 9 essential amino acids must be consumed within 24 hours. 

Animal foods and soya have all of these 9 acids in adequate amounts. Plant-based proteins are usually low in a couple. Grains, for example, are usually low in lysine, while beans and nuts are usually low in methionine. Some of these plant-based foods may have all 9 essential amino acids but not in high enough amounts for our body to utilise. It's been called limiting amino acid, it is the essential amino acid present in the lowest quantity in a food protein relative to a reference food protein like egg whites. So vegans! Not to worry. By mixing your grains with your beans and legumes you can get all the 9 amino acids that animal foods have. Think beans with rice or toast with peanut butter! 


Complete protein - animal sources - eggs, dairy products, meat, fish and soya

Incomplete protein - quinoa (nearly complete - all essential amino acids, but has limiting amino acid), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans), grains (wheat, rice), nuts, seeds. 

Variety is always great to get a variety of nutrients. A good rule of thumb, therefore, (if it aligns with your ethics) is your weekly protein consumption to consist of 50 % animal protein and 50 %  plant-based protein. 


FAT is vital

Dietary fats are a major source of energy for our bodies. They are vital for processes such as growth, development and brain, eye and heart function. They also help the body to absorb certain vitamins. Fats are so important to your body that they should make up around 30 % of your diet.

The healthier fats are:

MUFA - mono-unsaturated fatty acids e.g Rapeseed oil, olives, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, avocados, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and their oils.

PUFA - poly-unsaturated fatty acids: 

ω-6 - e.g sunflower seeds, wheat germ, sesame seeds, walnuts, soybeans, corn and their oils. 

ω-3 - e.g oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout), rapeseed (canola) oil, soft fat spreads, walnuts, soybeans, flaxseeds (linseeds) and their oils


Omega fatty acids

Both omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids are important components of cell membranes and are precursors to many other substances in the body such as those involved in regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses. 

omega-3 fatty acids protect against fatal heart disease. They have anti-inflammatory effects and aid in the prevention of diabetes and certain types of cancer


The micros - small with a huge impact

Each microamount of VITAMINS and MINERALS has huge benefits for particular bodily functions. Vitamin D, for example, acts as a hormone in our bodies, supports our immune system, is beneficial for our bones and teeth, helps our muscles to contract and aids our nerves to carry messages between the brain and the body.

Vitamins and minerals can be found not only in vegetables and fruits but also in fish, eggs, meat, dairy, legumes, nuts and other foods. This is why a varied diet, will provide you this variety of necessary nutrients. Think about shopping for “a rainbow” of colours with your fruits and vegetables. 



Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for our health. They stimulate the immune system, improve the digestion and absorption of nutrients, and limit the spread of pathogens. Some commonly known probiotics are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Find them in a variety of foods and dietary supplements, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics. Their sources are root vegetables, onion, garlic, chicory and other vegetables and fruit.


Not just what but how! 

Whilst consuming the right nutrients is key, the way you cook them may reduce the availability of these nutrients or cause harm to the body (as we explain below)


Ideal cooking methods:

* Steaming

* Slow cooking

* Stir-frying or sautéing - This means cooking small or thin pieces of foods quickly. Frying foods with small amounts of oil, vegetable stock or water.

* Microwaving (but don't use plastic!)

* Pressure cooking (for example rice, soup)

* Baking - with only a small amount of oil

* Grilling - on a griddle or grill pan. Use a hot grill to help prevent food from sticking. Using a lid will help to cook your food quickly.

* Poaching - Poaching simmers food in a pan of liquid like water or stock to cook food quickly. (eggs, poultry, some vegetables and fruit)



Less nutritious food - the 20% 


Simple carbs i.e sugar

Sugar is the body’s quickest source of energy. It does not need to be regarded as evil. In fact, simple carbs can also be found in fruits and some vegetables. Whilst up to 10 % of your daily calorie intake is fine, it is recommended not to have too much more than this per day as this can lead to weight gain, blood sugar problems, and an increased risk of heart diseases.


Foods with added salt 

e.g potato chips, popcorn, salted nuts, soy sauce, smoked meat, sausages and instant soups. Whilst a small amount of sodium is necessary for the body to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and regulate water and mineral levels, The WHO recommend just 5g a day, yet they believe the average European consumption to be 9-18g a day. High sodium intake increases blood volume and the pressure on blood vessels. Over time blood vessels can stiffen which increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.


Saturated fatty acids

 e.g Palm oil, coconut oil, lard, high-fat cuts of red meat (beef, lamb, and pork) and full-fat dairy products (such as butter, cheese, ice cream, milk and cream). It’s also okay for these foods to make up about 10 % of your calorie intake but much higher than this can increase LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), which can lead to heart diseases.


Trans-fatty acids 

Type 1: Naturally occurs in the fat of cows, sheep or goats, such as in meat or dairy products. Here there is no health concern

Type 2: Produced industrially as partially hydrogenated oils. We can find them in pre-packed bakery products, cheap chocolates or popcorn. This type increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These types of trans-fatty acids should be no more than 1 % of your daily calorie intake. 


What is it about RED MEAT?

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends we try to consume no more than three portions (around 350-500g cooked weight) of red meat per week and very little, if any, processed meat.

Red meat is often cured (preserved in unhealthy amounts of salt and sometimes carcinogens) or smoked at a high temperature such as pan frying, grilling or barbecuing. Cooking at high temperatures produces trans-fatty acids and advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) associated with degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, atherosclerosis and kidney disease. 


FOOD ADDITIVES ain’t so bad after all! 

You may have heard that a product with a huge list of ingredients, especially ones with code names that you don’t understand, is a bad idea. These code names are food additives and while they may look mysterious and scary, The European Union has a really good and strict system of regulating them. Food additives are added to food to serve some specific function. In Europe, every additive that we find on our plate has been thoroughly tested and has, based on the best currently available science, been classified as safe and approved for use by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). 

Vitamin C, for example, is even used as a food additive, and can be labelled on our food packaging with the scary E number ‘E300.’ Its chemical name is ascorbic acid and is mainly used as an antioxidant. Vitamin C is a natural preservative and has low pH, which prevents microbial growth - prevents food spoilage, and preserves freshness and colour. 

Some more examples of additives:

* Preservatives stop bacteria or mould from spoiling your food, so that it lasts longer

* Colourings are used to make our food look more appealing

* Emulsifiers allow water and oils to remain mixed together in an emulsion, like in mayonnaise for example


So no additives are not going to kill you. 

It's important to note that the number of ingredients alone is not a definitive measure of a food's healthiness. Some processed foods with longer ingredient lists can still be nutritious, and some simple foods may lack essential nutrients. The problem with these coded ingredient lists is that if you don’t know what they are, then you don’t know if they are right for your diet. It's crucial to consider for yourself the quality of the ingredients, their nutritional value, and how they fit into your overall dietary goals. 


Please, avoid - the 0% 

This section is food that can cause your body more harm than good so should be limited as much as possible! 

* Spoiled food (mould, rotten)
 - once there is mould on the meal, don't just cut it out, it’s all spoiled now so throw it out!

* Burned food

* Undercooked meals - eggs, meat

* Unpasteurized milk and products made from it

* Food that was in a warm environment for a long time

*Foods containing carcinogens (explained below)


How to minimise the risk in the kitchen:

* Avoid cross-contamination - when preparing your meals, have different cutting boards for vegetables and fruit, for meat

* Keep raw and cooked foods separate

* Don't wash raw meat - the splashing water can spread bacteria around the kitchen

* Cook the meat thoroughly - Cooking/heating foods to temperatures of at least 72°C for 2 minutes will kill most illness-causing microbes.

* For pork and poultry, there should be no pink meat left

* Keep leftovers in the fridge for a maximum of 2 to 3 days.


The big bad carcinogens 

The International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC) has the carcinogen classification for substances. Carcinogens: ‘a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.’ It’s unlikely that consuming small amounts of these substances will give you cancer however their direct correlation means you should limit them where you can. 

Carcinogenic substances are divided into 4 groups: 1, 2A, 2B and 3. Group 1 is carcinogenic for humans, and there is sufficient evidence to prove it. This includes smoking tobacco, exposure to solar radiation, alcoholic beverages and processed meat. 


InBody measurements are an accurate body composition reading tool to help us see your quantifiable progress of your personal goals you and your trainer have defined together.

We will be able to track:
  • Analysis of body composition – muscle, body fat, water retention
  • Comparison analysis for upper/lower body and left/right side balance
  • Setting specific health goals
  • Tracking and comparing your progress with previous measurements

At Attika our priority is your health. We have met plenty of people with six packs that are totally miserable and unhealthy. Having a six pack can be a side effect of healthy habits and of course we can help you to get there, if you wish to do so. However, our priority is creating healthy mindset and habits towards becoming a better human, feeling good in your own skin, and having energy to keep going. The looks are a bonus 🙂

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