If you’re like most people, taking care of the health of your body and the well-being of your mind has almost become an afterthought. This is true for the vast majority of people not because they’re lazy, but because they’re stressed and often overwhelmed by their busy lives.
Neglecting your health only becomes an issue when signs of poor endurance, physical weakness, low energy and weight gain become too obvious to ignore any longer. It is only at this point that you might think about designing an eating plan and taking a Power Core Yoga class at Fitness 19 or begin jogging around your neighborhood.
If after taking these measures, you’re still not getting the results you want, then you have to consider that while you may be doing a lot of exercise now, you may not be eating right. Often it’s 80% of what you eat and 20% of what you do that defines your results.
So the question is how do you eat in a healthier way to benefit from all the exercise you’re now doing.
7 Simple Ways to Eat Healthier, Burn Fat, and Build Muscle
Here are some practical ideas to improve your diet.
- Start the day with a good breakfast.
Instead of rushing out of the door after only drinking a cup of coffee because you’re late for work, get up a little earlier to prepare a good breakfast.
Since you’ve been fasting for about 8 to 12 hours when you wake up, your body needs nutrients to produce energy. The Harvard Health Letter explains, “Whether it features soup in Vietnam, biscotti in Italy, or scrambled eggs in the United States, breakfast revs up the body after a night’s sleep, giving us energy and nutrients to face the day. Studies suggest that eating breakfast regularly is associated with good health — and that the timing of the meal, as well as what’s in it, matters.” Their studies suggest that eating breakfast with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This is because a good breakfast replenishes your blood sugar, which is necessary to fuel your brain and muscles.
While it’s better to eat something rather than nothing, it’s preferable to eat a healthy breakfast. It’s better to eat a meal rich in fiber and protein rather than simple carbohydrates. So, instead of eating a bagel, donut, or sugary cereal, it’s better to eat oatmeal with some chopped nuts. If you prefer to eat toast, then eat whole-grain bread with a protein source like egg or peanut butter.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Instead of eating three large meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or worse still, snacking throughout the day, it’s better to have six small meals. One schedule might be: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner. Each meal should have some complex carbohydrates, some protein, and some healthy fats.
- Drink water throughout the day.
One rule of thumb when deciding how much water to consume each day is to drink in proportion to your body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water. Another rule to follow is to avoid tap water unless you are completely sure that it is safe. Tap water has been shown to contain the following 12 toxins: fluoride, chlorine, lead, mercury, PCBs, arsenic, perchlorate, dioxins, DDT, and HCB, Dacthal, and MtBE. It’s much better to drink water that has been treated with reverse-osmosis.
- Choose complex carbohydrates.
Despite a plethora of fad diets suggesting you stay away from carbohydrates, the Mayo Clinic considers carbohydrates to be the main source of energy, with about half of your total calories coming from it. However, it’s important to be selective about where you get your carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates found in processed foods, snacks, and desserts don’t contribute to your health. However, fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains take longer to digest and help stabilize blood sugar levels. They are also loaded with micronutrients like vitamins and minerals to help you feel your best.
- Add protein into your main meals and healthy snack breaks.
Protein is essential for tissue growth, maintenance, and repair. Protein is especially useful in improving recovery after exercise as it helps repair the micro-tears in muscles caused after an intense workout. Protein is obtained from poultry, red meat, fish, dairy, tofu, nuts, beans, legumes, and eggs. Eat lean protein, which is low in trans-fats and saturated fats.
- Consume fruits and vegetables as part of your diet.
Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibers. They also contain phytonutrients like carotenoids, ellagic acid, flavonoids, resveratrol, glucosinolates, and phytoestrogens that help prevent illness.
- Consume healthy fats.
Although fats have got a bad rap, healthy fats, unsaturated fats, reduce inflammation and provide essential fatty acids. High fat foods that are healthy include avocados, cheese, dark chocolate, nuts, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, full-fat yoghurt, and grass-fed butter.
Change Takes Time
After you’ve started to eat better and to exercise regularly, you might be surprised to find that you don’t instantly feel better. At this point many people give up because of high expectations. The truth is that it sometimes takes time for nature to readjust to your changes in diet and exercise. If you stick with your lifestyle change long enough, you will transform into a high-energy and healthy person.