Okay so if you’re anything like us you may find it quite difficult to step away from the biscuit tin, especially in the office when it always seems to always be someone’s birthday or celebrations of some sort.
Well, did you know that your diet is the key to unlocking your success in not only your overall health, but your fitness too?
Where to Start with Healthy Eating?
If you’re new to healthy eating, the most important thing you need to know is that you need to fuel your body. Just because you’ve decided you’re going to eat better doesn’t mean you’re about to live on salads. A change of lifestyle means improved quality and sometimes quantity of food.
Whilst you know that living on a diet of processed foods and saturated fats isn’t good for you, you may still be left in a world of confusion when it comes to what you can actually eat.
Essentially, the foods you eat are broken down into three main food groups that make up your macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
What Are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients help the body to survive and function. Whilst the macronutrients are broadly divided into carbs, protein and fat; all of which have different roles to play in their supply of calories and therefore energy.
For that reason, you’ll need a good mix of all three macronutrients to keep your body functioning well with high energy. How much is needed is determined by you; your age, body weight and fat percentage, along with how active your lifestyle will give you a percentage breakdown of these foods that may differ from your friend.
There are ways to work this out with online calculators that look at your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) and determine how much you need based on this.
How to Get a Good Balance with Healthy Eating
Nutrition can get confusing, that’s why we’re big advocates of eating well with an 80/20 rule. You’ve probably seen this rule before: simply, you eat well 80% of the time and indulge or treat yourself the other 20%. This ensures that you’re not restricting yourself from foods you may enjoy and above all, keep you enjoying the healthy living wagon you’re on.
Hint: if it feels like a boring chore, you need to change something. It’s not going to work for you, nor is it going to be sustainable if you restrict to the point that you’re starving yourself.
Under no circumstances will fad diets and crazes allow you to sustain any weight loss found whilst using them, and, we hate to break it to you but they will also slow down your metabolism so it’s harder for you to lose weight in the future – not to mention store fat in fear that you’ll starve it again. So while diets may work in the short term, they are detrimental to your long-term health and definitely do not contribute to success in your health stakes.
Your body is a complex and intelligent thing so if you treat it with respect and it will show you the same.
Why You Need Carbohydrates in Your Diet
So, let’s go back to basics. Carbs have a bad reputation and they certainly don’t need one.
In a world of carbs, what you’re looking for are the types that have slow releasing energy not those that give big spikes of insulin.
You know to stay away from processed foods – we’re talking about knowing the difference between a biscuit and a potato. Even if they matched each other in the calorie stakes, they offer something vastly different in terms of nutrition and energy.
Let’s take a look at the sweet potato: the calories you get from this not only contribute to one of your five a day, but they also slowly release insulin, avoiding spikes (and therefore crashes) and help to keep you fuller for longer.
Why You Need Fat in Your Diet
Fat burns fat. Yup, you read that right. If you eat the right types of fat, they actually contribute to the metabolic break down of stored fat.
Much like carbs, over the years fats have got a bad reputation as we saw a huge rise in the food market selling ‘low fat’ products to the consumers. Unfortunately, the food industry knew that if they reduced the fat, they’d have to also kiss goodbye to a lot of the flavour, so what did they do? They replaced the fat with sugar in order to keep the taste whilst still offering a lower far alternative.
However, the consumer is now becoming more clued up on the contents of their food and so we’re seeing a surge in fats making a comeback into our weekly meals.
Pass us the avocado!
Fill Up on Protein
There’s a common misconception that only bodybuilders eat chicken and rice five times a day for gains. However, protein helps your muscles recover after working out, contributes to good hair and nail health (among other things) and keeps you fuller for longer.
Swapping out your sugary cereal or toast in the morning for a high protein meal will keep you fuller for longer, avoiding the 11 o’clock snack attack.
Thankfully, you can find protein in the most unlikely of places, it doesn’t have to be solely chicken for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Try eggs for breakfast, lentils in your lunch and quinoa at dinner – all foods that offer protein without feeling like you’re having a protein overload.
How to Meal Prep
We understand that it’s easy to slip up when temptation is right in front of you, and how easy it is to reach for the most convenient option when you’re tired and getting home late after a long day.
This is where meal prep comes in.
Prepping your meals in advance will not only help you to stay on track with your diet but will make your day more efficient, too. And who doesn’t want that?
If you’re a sucker for reaching for ready meals, food-prepping is for you.
Here’s how you go about it:
Pick a day, (we’d recommend a Sunday so you’ve got your working week covered) and take a few hours out of your day and start cooking all of your meals.
You’ll need a range of Tupperware, a bunch of different saucepans and a bit of motivation but if you write down what your meals will be then you can simply cook it all in one batch and portion it out. Pop them in the fridge, or freezer and defrost as you go for a quick, easy and healthy alternative to ready-meals.
Now you’ve got the basics covered and you understand how integral your diet is to your overall health goals, you’re good to go. Just remember, eat good, nutritious food but if you want to treat yourself every once a while, that’s fine. Enjoy it!