Eat smart with these 4 tips

Expert advice to keep you healthy and fit

Published: June 2015

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Fad diets, such as those that advocate chowing down on large amounts of protein, eliminating carbohydrates or banning fats may be popular, but balance is really the key to long-term healthy eating. “Eating plans that glorify or vilify a particular food group are not healthful in the long run,” says Consumer Reports dietitian Maxine Siegel, R.D. “Include a wide variety of foods—whole grains, different kinds of produce, and lean protein—to ensure you get all the nutrients you need.”

Here are four simple strategies that will round out your eating plan and might even help you shed extra weight.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average moderately active adult woman needs about 1,800 daily calories; an adult male, about 2,200 to 2,400. If you’re sedentary, subtract up to 200 calories from your daily allotment; if you’re extremely active, add up to 400.


On average, women need about 46 grams a day; men, 56 grams. Keep it lean with fish (29 grams in 4 ounces of cooked salmon), skinless poultry (35 grams in 4 ounces, cooked), dairy (20 grams per cup of low-fat Greek yogurt), and vegetarian options such as nut butters (3.5 to 4 grams per tablespoon).


Read about the surprising effects of a high-protein diet, and find out how to select the safest, healthiest and most sustainable shrimp.

No more than 30 percent of your daily calories should come from fat (each fat gram has 9 calories). Get a daily maximum of 22 grams of saturated fat, avoid trans fats (in some processed foods like cookies and crackers), and focus on good-for-you fats: Half an avocado has about 15 grams—all but 2 are healthy fats. A half-cup of sliced almonds contains 22.5 grams of fat; 20 are unsaturated.

Women should aim for 202 to 293 grams per day; men, 259 to 374. Instead of getting them from refined carbs like added sugar and those in white flour, focus on complex carbs; they’re nutritious, satiating, and full of fiber. (Women older than 50 should get 21 grams of fiber daily; men, 30 grams.) Foods high in complex carbs include produce, legumes such as chickpeas (a half-cup contains 23 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fiber), and whole-grain items such as whole-wheat bread (14 grams of carbs and 1.9 grams of fiber per slice). The government’s ChooseMyPlate program suggests at least half of your grains be whole.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the March 2015 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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