There is no single meal plan that works for all dieters, because dieting can be the means to achieve different goals. Dieting to lose weight requires different foods than a diet designed to build muscle. Healthy eating, however, has several important cornerstones that apply for almost everyone to achieve a longer and healthier life. Anyone wishing to make a change to his diet should consult a doctor or personal trainer.
Diets consist of varying ratios of macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Vitamins and minerals should not be neglected either, and of course water is vital. Fats and carbohydrates provide long- and short-term energy for the body. Proteins mostly provide the raw material to build tissues, but have some energy. Fat has the most calories, or energy per unit.
Dieting is about total calorie count as well as the type of food the person eats: to lose weight, the total intake must be less than the total expenditure, and vice versa for weight or muscle gain. A diet for muscle gain requires high amounts of protein. On average, half of daily calorie intake consists of carbs, 30 percent from fats and 10 to 15 percent from proteins.
One key to a healthy diet is to avoid processed foods when possible. They are laden with preservatives, salt and sugar that yield empty calories, or calories with no nutritional value.