Nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body. It doesn’t matter if you exercise all day long, if you eat the wrong stuff, losing bodyfat and increasing lean muscle is that much harder to accomplish.
Nutrition can be simple or extremely complicated. If you need to weigh and measure your food to get all of your recommended macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats), hey go for it. Personally, I like simple. Simple is easy to remember and easy to do. Here are some easy to remember nutrition tips:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables – your mother was right, eat your veggies. They carry a ton of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The vast majority of Americans do not get enough servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Recommended serving sizes for each group are as follows:Veggies: at least 2.5-3 cups a day of a variety of vegetable sources. Fruits: at least 2 cups a day eating a variety of fruits. Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. For more information, please visit the US Governments website: Choose my plate
- Drink plenty of water – like food, water is essential for life. The majority of Americans not only don’t drink enough water, but are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration can come quickly and you may not even know it. I usually tell folks that you should drink half of your bodyweight in ounces in water a day, minimum. If you exercise, or sweat a lot, you need to drink more. Fortunately you have a built in feedback system to let you know if you are dehydrated. One is thirst, and but the most important one is the color of your urine. Dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration while a pale yellow color is okay. Many folks consider thirst for hunger, as the signals between the two are very similar. So next time you think you might be hungry, drink some fluid and see if that “curbs your appetite.” One last note, if you notice that you are really thirsty, you are past the point and are most likely dehydrated. Sometimes if I am too dehydrated, my eyesight gets a little blurry. As I ingest more fluid, my blurriness subsides.
- Shop the perimeter of grocery store – the perimeter of the store is where are the naturally occurring foods are traditionally located at the grocery store. The aisles are where you find the processed foods (chips, cereals, “breakfast” bars, etc.). Avoid these foods. Processed foods are high sugar, salt, and/or fat. Think of your food this way: if it can stay “fresh” in a bag and not spoil – you shouldn’t eat it. Real food will go bad and spoil if not eaten. Eat real food. Just about every grocery store I have been in has all of the fruits and veggies on one side of the store, the meat and deli department are usually close by as well. Stay out of the aisles.
- When you eat, chew your food – we are all in a hurry and we don’t stop to enjoy the meal that was prepared. We shovel the food in our mouth and swallow it so we can get on to the next thing. Slow down. Chew your food. Taste your food. You might find that you won’t eat as much if you slow down and actually savor the taste. If you put your fork down between bites, you will actually allow your body to process what you’re tasting. Mindful eating will allow your body to tell you when you are full. Shoveling food into your mouth and stopping when you feel you are about to burst isn’t healthy.
- Carbs are not the enemy – many health experts will tell you that carbs are the enemy. This is absolutely not true. Carbohydrates are the gasoline that fuels your body to everything that it does from brain function, digestion, to exercise. Not every carb is created equal however. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are what is found in fruits and vegetables, cereals, breakfast bars, candy bars, etc. The body breaks down these quickly and will be used for fuel. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Since we are becoming less and less active, your body can’t burn them off as quickly. So what happens? The body converts them into fat and stores them in your belly, hips, thighs, etc. Excess sugars also will lead to an increase in triglycerides and the incidence of diabetes. Complex carbohydrates are the healthy carbs. They provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These sources take longer to digest and their energy last for a longer period of time. Complex carbs include: rice, pasta (whole grain), sweet potatoes, steel cut oatmeal, etc.
- Fat is okay – take this with a grain a salt. Eating foods high in saturated fat will eventually lead to heart disease, clogged arteries, etc. Fortunately there are some healthy sources of fats that you can and are encouraged to eat: avocados, dark chocolate, whole eggs, nuts, fish with high levels of omega 3’s, and extra virgin olive oil. So why should you have fat? Fat actually has health benefits. Healthy fats have shown to improve heart health, decrease LDL’s (bad cholesterol), and provide fiber for the body. Keep in mind that fat is high density calorie source and a little will go a long way. Please read the nutrition labels for serving size. You will most likely be surprised how small a serving size of a healthy fat will be.
- Eat lean, high quality protein sources – protein provide the building blocks for your muscles. Without protein, your body cannot repair or build muscle as efficiently. Protein is made up of amino acids. Eating a wide variety of protein sources will provide you with all the amino acids needed to build muscle. Sources of protein include fish, chicken, meat, pork, nuts, legumes (beans), and nuts. If you are a vegetarian, it is even more important that you eat a variety of sources to get all of essential amino acids needed.
So there you have it – 7 tips that you can start using immediately to improve your nutrition. Still feel a little overwhelmed about nutrition? Take the guesswork out by allowing us to provide you with weekly nutrition meal plans. All delivered to your laptop or phone. Shopping list included! For more information, check out our website.