Do this. Do that. Actually, do this instead.
With health and fitness, we’re always chasing the next “it thing.” The “it thing” that quickens our fat loss while reducing our efforts needed.
To sum it up, we’re always looking for the path of least resistance when it comes to our health.
However, people who chase diet trends end up ultimately spinning their wheels, frustrated, and blaming external scenarios for their most recent of many dietary failures.
Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the model, the likelier your success.
No matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned fitness veteran who hasn’t reached their desirable level of leanness–master these five nutritional habits before attempting anything else.
1. Focus on food choices before anything else.
To lose fat, you want to burn more energy than you take in (i.e. caloric deficit). With this in mind, the next step that the majority will do is perform a Google search for “how many calories do I need to eat to lose fat?”
Before calorie counting, manipulating macros, or worrying about which particular diet to implement–focus on your daily food selections. Keep it simple and focus on understanding what healthy food choices look like.
Without awareness and a basic knowledge base of what to eat, all eating strategies are useless.
Here’s a secret: making healthier food choices will kickstart your weight loss before any fancy dieting or exercising strategies (especially for those coming from a world of little to no activity).
2. Take a balanced approach with your macronutrients.
We live in a world of extremes. It’s either low carbs, low fat, the no starch diet, the DNA diet or some random detox.
However, each macro serves a pivotal role with your fat loss and obtaining optimal health (internally and externally).
Think of carbohydrates as gasoline that helps fuel your body during workouts and energy (i.e. glucose) for your body to function on a daily basis.
Think of protein as your basic building block of life. Protein plays a key role in the development of your nails, skin, hair, and obvious ones such as muscle growth.
Your fats are beneficial due to their role in satiation and proper hormone optimization.
When thinking of your diet, think moderation and balance–that is what leads to lasting change. Extreme behaviors may work short term, but the weight, along with negative side effects comes back in the long run (often with extra weight).
3. Have a plan for what you’re going to eat each day.
Willpower is a finite resource that isn’t to be trusted in the long term due to its depleting energy reserves. Every day, we make thousands of decisions. Each decision we make requires energy.
As we make more and more decisions each day, we start to become more susceptible to making decisions that go against what we intentionally didn’t want to do.
Why is that?
Because of a little thing called decision fatigue. You start the day at 100%, but deciding on countless minutiae throughout the day such as what to wear–depletes your willpower.
To avoid decision fatigue, it’s imperative you automate as much of your habits as possible. Have a plan each day for how you’re going to eat. Therefore, your current emotional state nor surroundings won’t sabotage your fitness goals.
Will you be at work a little longer than expected? If so, prepare an extra meal or know what will be available to eat at that time.
With preparation, success is a guarantee. With preparation plus automating your smaller habits, you’ll have plenty of energy in the willpower tank when big decisions arise.
4. Eat and experiment until you find a method that satisfies your palate and complements your physique goals.
There isn’t one diet or template that is superior to another. The perfect diet is the one that fits your personality, goals, and lifestyle.
The only way to obtain the perfect diet is to experiment and test until you find the perfect concoction that blends flawlessly with your goals.
Your diet should almost feel effortless with little to no resistances about your particular style of eating.
Meshing your lifestyle with your fitness goals increases the chances of your new healthy habits sticking. You can trick and force yourself into doing tasks for only so long until you start to resent your newly adopted lifestyle.
5. Keep the big picture in mind.
Life happens. The unexpected often occurs, no matter how much preparation we do to avoid it. When the unexpected occurs, we often make poor decisions and slip up on our diets.
We’re not perfect, nor are we expected to be or will we ever become. Perfection is a fantasy and expecting to achieve perfection is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for disappointment.
Mishaps and temporary lapses off your diets won’t come close to ruining all your progress. Fitness doesn’t ruin itself in instantaneous moments. Keep the big picture in mind and realize that your fitness lifestyle is for the long term.
If you hypothetically eat four times a day. That’s 28 meals a week and if you had three out of those 28 that were less than ideal. Your compliance to your goal is still 90%, and that’s going to deliver the results you want.
At the end of the day, it’s not worth it to live within a diet that simultaneously imprisons you along the way.
This article was originally published over at The Huffington Post
Photo: Flickr/ atache