Unlock Your True Potential With Proper Nutrition
Before I got started on this wonderful journey of health and fitness, I wasn't seeing results in the gym like I wanted. I quickly learned that poor nutrition was preventing me from reaching my fitness goals. When you hear them say that it's 80% diet and 20% exercise, they didn't just pull those numbers out of the blue. They are very accurate. Once I started cleaning up and adding more nutrient dense foods to my diet, I began to see a major change within my body and mood. Of course when you first start on a nutrition plan it can be quite scary. I think it's important to start small. If you try to do a total makeover on everything that you consume, it may not be as easy to commit to that plan long term. Instead, I recommend picking one thing and really focus on that until it becomes a habit. For instance, start with your breakfast. Instead of having pop-tarts, microwaved breakfasts, or fast food in the morning, I suggest changing your breakfast to something more nutrient dense. If you are busy and don't have time to cook breakfast every morning, that's not an excuse. For example, you can easily boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and that way all you need to do is grab a few boiled eggs and a piece of fruit while you head out the door in the morning and you're good to go for the day. You've gotten in great sources of fruit, fiber, protein, and fats, to start a great morning.
Here are some guidelines when trying to select "clean" foods.
- Go lean! If you eat meat, I suggest going for lean meats. That means picking meats that tend to not have a lot of fat on them. Examples of lean meats would be chicken, turkey, and fish. Pork and beef tend to be more fatty, however if you can find Bison, that tends to be a leaner beef.
- Be more complex! When choosing your carbohydrates choose complex carbs vs simple carbs. A complex carb is simply a carbohydrate that has more nutrients to offer your body. So choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, choose brown rice over white rice, choose whole wheat or multi-grain bread over white bread. This way you are cutting back a few carbs and adding in more nutrients to your diet.
- Get your fat on! Your body NEEDS fat in order to function properly. However, be sure you are eating a healthy fat and not from an unnatural source. Avocados, nuts or nut butters, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, extra virgin olive oil. Of course doing them in moderation every day is key vs stocking up in one sitting. But, when you give your body fats that it knows how to process, it won't store it as unwanted fat cells, instead it will use the fat as energy.
- Get sweeter! Try to keep those sugars down to 35g or less a day, however, if you have a sweet tooth choose more natural sweeteners vs refined or artificial sweeteners. Choose agave, honey, 100% maple syrup, stevia. These are all great examples of healthier/natural sugars. But you must realize that sugar is sugar to your body and it will still turn it into glucose, so moderation is key here!
- All you can eat! When it comes to fruits and veggies, I say go hard or go home. You can't really overdo it here. Because your body knows exactly how to process fruits and veggies, it will release a chemical in your body which signals your brain to stop eating. Your body knows when enough is enough. It's when we eat "artificial" foods that our body doesn't know how to interpret it, so it never triggers our brain to stop eating. That's why you can eat chocolate and cake all day, but it's hard to finish an apple. Your body knows when it's had enough of the apple because it speaks that language very well, but cake and empty foods are speaking a foreign language to your body.
If you want to make healthier choices when going out to eat, or even when cooking in your own home, a good rule of thumb is to listen to the words that precede the dish. Examples: Choose dishes that contain words such as: grilled, steamed, baked, or broiled and try to avoid words like fried, sauteed, or pan fried.
Of course, don't feel like you have to live in a box. You can enjoy the foods you love, just keep it moderate. You don't need to enjoy those foods for every meal every day. That takes the special out of them. Instead, try eating "clean" 80% out of the week and then allow yourself a few indulges. Don't go crazy here, keep it 'G' rated and you'll come out so far ahead and will notice a major difference within yourself!