You can’t out-train a bad diet so do yourself a favor and make a healthy diet the cornerstone of your health.
It all starts with the diet.
Exercise is obviously a very important part of getting healthy, but if your nutrition is not on point, you will be spinning your tires.
When it comes to your goals, what you eat is going to determine your results–whether it be losing weight, gaining muscle or just wanting to feel better. If you are new to getting healthy and well, or if you are in need of a tuneup to get back on track, here are five fundamentals to follow.
1. Replace Grains With Greens
The average person is getting too many of their calories from cheap sources such as refined carbohydrates, bread, pasta and white rice. Yes, carbs are a source of energy but for the average person they are taking in way too many.
Cheap, refined grains act similarly as sugar in your body causing blood sugar spikes and insulin surges. With little or no activity taking place, you are now looking at increased body fat stores. That’s the main job of insulin; it is the fat producing and storing hormone. You need to start looking at things like bread or pasta not as grains or “whole grains” but as flour; pulverized, ground, refined and processed flour.
This is a good time to start pushing those cheap grains to the side and add in those good dark leafy greens. Look to include things like Kale, spinach, collard greens and broccoli.
2. Slow Down Your Eating Time
This is a big one that can help for multiple reasons. The average person is simply wolfing down their food too quickly. This causes a few things to happen; first you do not allow your natural satiation signals to engage. So where you might have consumed an adequate amount to cause you to be full, you have not allowed those fullness signals to kick in causing you to continue to overeat.
Secondly, eating too fast causes havoc on your digestive system that can lead to things like bloating, cramping, stomach discomfort and digestive issues.
Most people are in such a rush that they are consuming entire meals in 3-5 minutes. The length of time it takes consuming a meal for those fullness signals to reach the brain is around 15-20 minutes. This is where you need to slow down and even set up a timer to help keep you on track. You need to take your time chewing to help digestion happen more easily and to spread out that eating time. This will help you in avoiding overeating in the long run.
3. Eat To 80 % Full
You, of course, can’t hit 80% exactly, but the point is to cut the meal off just before you are full. This involves point number two as when you slow down and take your time eating; you can recognize when you are closer to that fullness stage.
Eating a meal should leave you energized and refueled, this is the reason we eat. Stuffing yourself to the point of passing out after a meal not only overwhelms your digestive system but floods your body with an overabundance of calories.
4. Drink Half Your Weight In Ounces Of Water Each Day
Most people are walking around dehydrated and have bodies running inefficiently. Having an adequate water intake is not only important for digestion, absorption, circulation and balancing body temperature, but also helps to flush out toxins and keep you energy levels and focus up.
Having an adequate water intake also helps to control hunger and reduce overeating. Simply divide your weight in half and convert to ounces to get a good idea of how much you should be consuming a day. If you are a 150-pound man, that would be 75 ounces of water a day. This equals around 9 cups. With larger glasses holding a couple cups of water, it isn’t hard to take this amount in.
Start your day with a large glass (or two) of room temperature water to kick off your hydration for the day. You can even squeeze in half a fresh lemon for further cleansing and detoxifying effects.
5. Use Your Palm For Portions
Counting calories is a monotonous and very inaccurate science, and you are better off focusing on portion size. Knowing how big each portion on your plate should be however can confuse many people. This is where your hand comes in… um, handy…
The size of your hand is in direct proportion to your body so is a great general guideline for portions.
If you are eating a serving of carbohydrates such as brown rice, fruit or sweet potato, you want to aim for a serving that would fit in your cupped hand. Men can go for two of these portions and woman for one.
A serving of protein such as beef, chicken or fish for example that would be adequate for your size should equal to the size and width of your palm. For men, they can aim for two of these servings at each meal and woman can shoot for one.
Vegetable intake should be around a fist size serving for things like broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. Go for two of these portions at each meal.
Keep Focused And Aware Of Your Nutrition
Your diet will not always go perfectly, that’s not possible or realistic. The point is to continue to make good progression and keep things simple. These five tips are a great guideline to keep you on track and help establish a good foundation of nutrition.
You can’t out-train a bad diet so do yourself a favor and make a healthy diet the cornerstone of your health and wellness.
Photo: Flickr/ IvanClow