How many Veggies should you eat each day?
You likely know that they should be eaten daily.
But do you know just how many servings of vegetables you need per day to ensure optimal health and vitality?
Vegetables are a great source of Vitamins, Minerals, Fibre and Phytonutrients just to name a few so you’ll want to ensure adequate daily intake.
Below is a simple system I use with my many of my clients to ensure that their nutritional profile supports their goals – whether they’re after health, fat loss, building muscle or improving their performance.
It consists of 3 simple guidelines which you try to follow daily when it comes to your vegetable intake.
How many servings of Vegetables per day?
Before I get into the specifics, it’s important not to get overwhelmed or frustrated by the recommendations I’ve made below if you’re currently eating completely differently.
Instead, you’ll want to take it one step at a time.
For instance, if you’re currently only eating a couple of portions of veg a day, you could first work on gradually bringing your veg intake up to the recommended amount of portions in Step 1 before moving onto the recommendations in Step 2.
Then repeat this process for Step 2 before moving onto Step 3.
Don’t worry if it takes you several weeks to a couple of months to get everything in place, the most important thing is consistent improvement.
Lasting results come from long term progress, not short term perfection.
1. Aim for 8 portions a day
The first thing to do is aim for a minimum of 8 servings of vegetables a day.
Although reaching “your 5 a day” is the generally accepted serving of vegetables a day, due to depleted soils and reduced levels of nutrition in the plants we buy these days I recommend you consume a minimum of 8 servings.
This way you’re far more likely to get all of the nutrients that your body needs to support your health and wellness related goals.
A serving size for you is simply the size of your clenched fist or one cup.
Of course one way to ensure better quality and nutrition content is to buy your produce from local Certified Organic Farmers.
2. Five or more different vegetables a day
Next you’ll want to ensure that you’re eating a minimum of 5 different vegetables a day.
Ideally these five vegetables will consist of 3-4 above ground veggies and 1-2 below ground veggies.
NOTE: The likes of Carrots, Turnips and Swede, although they are below ground vegetables, they can be included in your above ground veg allowance if you like as they’re not as starchy as many of the other below ground veg (such as Potatoes and Beetroot).
These different veggies can be spread between your meals throughout the day, don’t feel as though you have to eat all 5 varieties at once.
To make things even easier and to add some variety you can even swap a portion of veggies for a portion of beans or lentils here and there.
3. Three or more different colours
Finally, the last step of The Veggie Solution is to ensure you’re consuming a minimum of 3 different colours of vegetables throughout the day.
As you know, vegetables come in many different colours. The different veggies and colour variations have differing nutritional profiles so the wider the variety you can consume the better.
This will help to ensure you’re hitting all of your daily minimums.
But what about Fruit – isn’t that healthy too?
Of course it is. Just remember that many fruits are relatively high in sugar compared to above ground veggies.
That does not make them bad for you by the way – Just thought I’d mention that as there’s a big push against sugar in the industry at the moment.
It just means that depending on your goals you may have to be careful when you eat them throughout the day.
For instance if your goal is fat loss, you’ll want to limit most of your fruit and starch intake to within 2-3 hours of exercise for best results.
But other than that, there’s no real reason why most healthy people can’t happily have 2-3 of their daily portions as fruit instead of veggies.
So there it is. A simple, yet effective step-by-step system to ensure variety and optimal nutritional intake when it comes to your vegetable intake.
As mentioned above, take your time and don’t get overwhelmed and literally work on it one step at a time if you feel doing it all is too much.
The easiest way to hit your target once you’ve increased your vegetable intake is to spread your vegetable intake throughout the day. For instance, if you eat 4 times a day you could have 2 servings with each meal.
Breaking up your daily intake into smaller portions will make it much easier to manage, especially if you’re not a huge fan of vegetables but you accept the fact that they are an important part of your daily nutritional intake.
Another great way to meet your daily vegetable intake is to have fresh vegetable juices or smoothies. All I would suggest is that you avoid having too much fruit in them as this can bump the sugar content up if you’re not careful.
Do you have a friend of colleague that you know doesn’t meet their daily vegetable requirements? Feel free to share this article with them.
Thanks for stopping by,
Scientific American. 2011. Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/.
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