How To Eat Healthy
Learning how to eat healthy is often the most overlooked component of a comprehensive fitness plan. Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, washboard abs or to simply have a more nutritious diet knowing how to eat healthy is a huge step in the right direction. Food is fuel for your body. If you put nothing but sugar, simple carbohydrates and saturated “bad” fat in your body it will run inefficiently. On the other hand, if you put lean protein, complex carbohydrates, unsaturated “good” fat, and fruits and vegetables into your body it will run more efficiently. The best way to feel healthier is to be healthier, so here are some simple and straight-forward information for how to eat healthy.
Some basics on nutrition for eating healthy:
- Sugar--Sugar does not add anything of nutritional value.
- Carbohydrates--Carbohydrates provide the body with immediate energy. There are two basic types of carbs, simple and complex. Simple carbs are absorbed and digested quickly. Complex carbs are absorbed and digested more slowly. This makes your body work harder to break them down (which results in burning more calories) and feeling full longer.
- Protein--Protein builds muscle. See below for examples of lean protein.
- Fat--Fat provides the body with back-up energy (for later) and contrary to most diet plans is an important part of eating heathy. There are two basic types of fats, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat is generally considered bad for your cholesterol (raises it). There is also a process called "hydrogenation" which was invented to keep certain foods solid at room temperature (to increase shelf life) by adding hydrogen atoms. Unsaturated fat is generally considered good for your cholesterol (lowers it). Omega-3 (most commonly found in certain types of fish) is nutrient rich and decreases the risk of numerous diseases including heart disease.
- Fruits and Vegetables--Fruits and Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals.
Eat healthy with some of these food suggestions:
- Lean Protein: Chicken, Turkey, Egg Whites, Protein Powder.
- Complex Carbohydrates: Brown rice, Multi-Grain Bread, Whole Wheat Pasta, Oatmeal.
- Unsaturated “good” fat: Almonds, Peanuts, Avocado, Olive Oil.
- Fruits: Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Bananas, Apples.
- Vegetables: Bell Pepper, Zucchini, Broccoli, Onions, Cucumber, Tomato.
- Sugar Substitute: Non-Fat Chocolate Milk (preferably light, as in half the chocolate)
Other tips and guidelines for how to eat healthy:
1. Eat Clean--Eat as many whole foods as possible while avoiding processed foods. When you're in the grocery store, think about how many ingredients are in each item you're buying. Generally, the less ingredients the better. Does a candy bar or an apple have more ingredients (hint: an apple has one)?
2. Eat Often--Eat five small to medium meals rather than three large meals. Think of your metabolism as a fire that you need to keep burning throughout the day. Instead of burning the fire hot (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and then letting it go out completely (in between those meals), try to keep a slow burn going (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner).
3. Know what a portion/serving size is--This is one of the most common factors that undermine efforts to eat healthy. Most people don't realize the daily recommended serving of meat for a man 31 to 50 years-old is 6 ounces or women 19 to 30 should have 2 ½ cups of vegetables. Most people guess what half a cup of oatmeal is or what they think 6 ounces of lean beef looks like. Most people guess wrong. Try measuring out your food portions for a week, and then you can make educated guesses when you prepare meals.
4. Eat Slowly--The “I’m full” signal your stomach sends to your brain is delayed (by about 15 to 20 minutes). Do not eat quickly as you will probably over-eat. Try to stop eating right before you feel “full”. Do not eat until you are “stuffed”.
5. Drink water--Drink lots of water. 10 to 12 glasses a day.