It’s a new year and it’s time to get in shape. It’s time to get healthy. Well, one of the most important things you should focus on is nutrition. You can work out all you want, but without a good diet you won’t see the best results. It’s important to fuel your body with healthy, clean foods and plenty of water.
So, what exactly does this mean? Many people are not sure what clean eating actually involves. We’re going to give you an easy, clear plan to get you off on the right foot.
Do not think of this as a diet, but a lifestyle change. Choosing a variety healthy, whole foods each day will help to give you more energy. You’ll feel better and you’ll lose weight in the process. Once you start eating this way, it’ll begin to make sense. It is not a diet, but a new way to look at food.
First, you should be eating small meals/snacks every 3-4 hours, starting with a good, well-balanced breakfast. Eating this way actually revs up your metabolism. By taking in a smaller amount of calories with each meal, your body will burn/use what you eat. When you eat a large meal, your body cannot use all of those calories, so it stores them as fat. On the other hand, eating less frequently, not eating enough, or even skipping meals sends out a warning signal to your body and so it goes into starvation mode, storing the calories as fat to be used later. So, restricting your calories too much or not eating enough can actually have an adverse effect, slowing down your metabolism.
Also, the type of calories you eat is very important. Eating 300 calories of white bread will have a very different effect on your body than 300 calories of oatmeal. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which binds to bile (bile helps us to absorb fat and cholesterol from our diet). Less bile, less fat and cholesterol absorbed!
It is important to fuel your body with protein and complex carbohydrates throughout the day. Protein helps build valuable fat-burning muscle. Complex carbohydrates turn into a simple sugar at a much slower rate than simple carbs. What does this do? It raises our blood sugar slowly by staying in the stomach longer, which decreases our hunger and cravings created by those other simple carbohydrate foods. End result: more sustained energy, and less junk food cravings. Complex carbs are also less likely to turn into fat in your body than simple carbs.
The best part of eating this way is that you will not be hungry. It is not a diet, so other than restricting foods that are not very good for you, you will be eating really well. There are so many good, healthy recipes, many of which we will be posting here.
What you should do is eat a diet with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and good fats. No, it’s not a high protein diet and low carbs. You should eat between 5 and 6 meals/snacks per day. You should have between 1500 and 1800 calories per day, possibly more if you’re really active. So, you simply take 1800 cal and divide that by 5. That’s 360 per meal. This is not so much a diet, but a healthy lifestyle. Protein shakes are good for a meal replacement or snack. They have a lot of vitamins too. Meals are 3-4 hours apart. You should have a protein, carb and some veggies with each meal. You should drink at least a 64 ounces of water per day. It is not necessary to count calories. A 3-4oz serving of meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards. You can have as many green vegetables as you want. We have attached a printable chart to help you get started.
A sample plan for one day:
Meal 1: 2 eggs
1/4 cup oatmeal
Meal 2: 1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup strawberries
Meal 3: 3-4 oz chicken
Meal 4: greek yogurt and a small apple
Meal 5: 3-4 oz steak
This is just a sample of eating really healthy. It’s about 1500 calories. You don’t want too become obsessed with food, so don’t be worried about counting calories. The main thing is if you’re eating every 3-4 hours, and it’s a pretty healthy meal or snack, you should keep in pretty good condition.
It makes total sense to feed your body every few hours. It keeps your metabolism revved up. It seems like a lot of food, but really people usually eat 5-6 times per day. They just usually have chips or a candy bar instead of a healthy meal. Another thing is, as long as you eat healthy most of the time, it’s totally okay for you to have a snack or some of your favorite foods, like pizza or McDonalds or something. In fact, you should have a crave day once a week. This way you don’t feel guilty if you want some pizza or a snack. Also, use spices in your food. Your meals should not taste bland. They should be really tasty, so that you enjoy them.
Next week, we will discuss creating a workout plan to help you get in tip top shape this spring!
*If you would like to lose weight, drop the carbs at dinner and eat extra green vegetables. You can also limit your fruit intake. If you would like to gain, then you should actually be eating six times a day.