In this blog post, we’re taking our members back to school to learn some nutrition basics. We’ve compiled a quick and easy-to-digest list of the top diet tips we think every active person should be following. Everyone’s body is different, and there is a seemingly endless amount of debates in the nutrition world, but this is what we’ve seen works best in our lives, and in the lives of the athletes we’ve worked with. Feel free to try them out and see which ones work best for you.
1. Carbs are your friend - if they’re the right kind. There are two kinds of carbohydrates. Ones your body uses quickly (simple) and ones your body breaks down slower for longer use and energy (complex). We want the complex ones in order to feel fuller longer. This is where whole grains come in. Try to avoid starchy and refined foods that are far away from their natural state (example: a french fry vs. a baked potato). Foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes are all complex carb sources that will help you eat less but stay nourished.
2. You need to eat more vegetables. They have fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients! We know this is a bold statement to make, but we’re going to make it. Everyone needs more vegetables in their diet. If you feel like you already eat enough, try mixing it up to ones you don’t eat as often. Their fiber keeps you running smoothly so you feel less bloated and hold less water weight, plus their nutrients will help your body to not just look good on the outside but actually work well on the inside.
3. Your body doesn’t know what a “day” is. It just sees a continuing conveyer belt of your choices. This might be the single most mind-blowing fact we tell people. It’s not about making a couple of good choices in a row or eating a specific magical thing. It’s about the choices you are making most of the time. Your body doesn’t know that you ate well on Thursday, but that today is now Friday. All it sees is the binge amount of every Friday-Sunday’s pizza and beer, and now it has to do its best to sort out all the extra calories and carbs. Your body will find a place for everything you put in it. This is why we hesitate to use the word “diet”, because eating healthy is a lifestyle, not a set amount of time. Feed your body healthy food every day as a continuous routine, limit the amount of binge eating weekends, and you’ll feel a change!
4. Treat yo’self! You are human and you do need “cheat meals”. The important part to note is that it needs to be limited to one meal or item in the span of a week or so, not binge eating every weekend and “treating yourself” to alcohol every night. Think about the conveyer belt we talked about in #3. If you’re constantly “cheat mealing”, then that’s not a cheat meal, that’s just your regular diet. Bonus points for you if you can find a healthier option you consider a treat, like chocolate covered fruit, which will still give you some fiber and antioxidants!
5. You need a balance of all 3 Macronutrients: Carbs, Protein, and Fat. If you want to increase muscle, add in more protein. If you want to lose weight, cut down (but don’t eliminate) carbs. If you want to lose fat in the more stubborn areas and feel a little better in your joints and bodily functions, add more healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, and fish). Regardless of your goal, the human body needs all 3 of these macro nutrients to survive. The typical American diet tends to have too many carbs and not enough protein or healthy fats. It’s all about balance, so make sure your plate has all 3!