April is the time to “spring into fitness.” As a personal trainer I work with clients daily who all share the common goal of LOSING BODY FAT. In fact, I would estimate that 75% of my clients state that as their primary goal. I am going to be 100% honest you folks: you cannot “out train a bad diet.” So if your goal is to lose weight and/or reduce body fat, we must get you eating responsibly and strategically. I want to share my personal “Top 10 Tips” for eating properly, tips I use when consulting with clients and friends regarding nutrition. Enjoy!
Top 10 Nutrition Tips:
To be successful with a nutrition program, we must plan ahead and be prepared. Compose a list of nutritious meals and formulate your grocery list. Shop and batch cook your food for 2-3 days at a time. Package your food with labels so that you can grab, reheat, and go. Preparing meals in advance reduces the temptation to grab unhealthy substitutes on the go.
2. Eliminate most processed foods.
Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods when at all possible. Many processed foods contain inordinate amounts of sodium, fat, and sugar. An easy tip to remember is to avoid foods that include unfamiliar or unpronounceable ingredients. Think chemical malitov cocktail when reading these ingredient lists and avoid putting them into your grocery cart. Instead reach for and increase your consumption of whole foods. Make fresh, real food the major focus of your diet.
3. Eat Frequently.
Eating smaller meals 5-6 times a day allows the body to function more efficiently throughout the day. Eating frequently approximately every 3 hours boosts you metabolism, stabilizes blood sugar, and increases your fat burning. Eating protein 5-6 times a day helps control cortisol levels which affects fat retention. Also, eating small meals frequently can prevent binge eating.
4. Eat Protein.
Protein is essential for a healthy nutrition plan. Protein is broken down into 20 amino acids which are the body’s building blocks for energy and growth and are essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. Try to include the correct amount of high quality protein in each meal. You can choose from a variety of animal and plant sources for your protein.
5. Healthy Fat.
Healthy fats are necessary for proper brain and heart function. They are also crucial for cell function and are especially important for your hair, skin, and nails. Diets that contain up to 25% or more of its calories from healthy fats have been proven to provide individuals with more optimal hormone levels, thus consequently lower body fat levels. Good sources of healthy fat include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Avoid unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
6. Avoid Unhealthy Grains/Carbs.
Highly processed grains are high in calories yet offer little nutritional value. Unhealthy carbs include white flour, refined sugar, and refined breads, pastas, and cereals that have been stripped of nutrients, bran, and fiber. These carbs digest quickly and lead to spikes in insulin and energy levels. Instead choose moderate amounts of whole grains which are slow digesting, keep blood sugar levels more stable, and can help you feel fuller longer.
7. Stop Drinking Your Calories.
Liquid calories can be found in the form of alcohol, mixers, juice, soda, and sports drinks. These are stealthy calories that can add up quickly and can lead to weight gain. Liquid calories do not help suppress hunger as food in solid form does. Liquid calories also do not have satiety properties which help trigger feelings of fullness in your brain. This leads to an overall increased in calories consumed. The best choice for fluid is water. Other smart choices are coffee and unsweetened teas.
8. Gut Health.
Low stomach acid, chronic gut inflammation or excessive gut bacteria can all lead to bloating and inhibit fat loss. Through testing, trial and error, or through the assistance of a certified professional, determine what foods you should avoid, what possible supplements and probiotics to add, and consume an adequate supply of fiber.
Calories are a measurement of energy. Eating more calories a day than you expend will lead to weight gain. Conversely, eating less calories a day than you expend will lead to weight loss. There are formulas on the internet that can help you establish your caloric needs or consult with a nutritionist to help you establish your baseline metabolic needs. These values will be adjusted according to your goals. Follow your caloric allowance and results should follow.
10. Personal Accountability
Take personal accountability for your food choices. No one is forcing you to eat your favorite cheat meal. Right or wrong, we are making choices all day, every day. Take responsibility for your food choices. Ultimately, it is up to you to make good choices so you succeed.
I hope that you have enjoyed this article, gained some new insights, and are inspired to make positive improvements to your nutrition plan. I hope you will use it as a spring board to educate and empower yourself. Please remember that life is a gift. It’s up to each of us to live life to the fullest. To live optimally, we must eat optimally.