The new 30 Day Challenge starts tomorrow. We are going to be doing some awesome workouts! To get the best results from your workout program it's important to pair them with a good nutritional plan.
So what does a good nutritional plan look like? It varies a bit from person to person. Your nutritional plan should include foods that you enjoy.
That said, there are some aspects that should be included in your diet. Don't be afraid to explore and figure out what works best for you. Here are some rules that I try to stick to when deciding what to eat.
1. Learn to Recognize Portion Sizes: This is by far the one I have the hardest time sticking to! I eat several meals (5-6) throughout the day, so it is especially important to be aware of portion sizes when you do this. Otherwise you end up with 5-6 huge meals and an excess of calories.
If you aren't sure what a portion size looks like measure it. Three foods that I find shocking when measured are cereal, granola and trail mix. I keep a little sandwich baggie with a 1/4 cup portion size inside my bag of trail mix and granola. It's an easy visual cue to show me what a portion size is with these foods (otherwise I might eat them 3-4 handfuls at a time). You don't have to do this with every food, but if there is something you know you tend to overeat measure it out until you learn to recognize the portion size.
Remember, you don't have to limit yourself to just one serving with every food, but being aware can help you make healthy choices throughout the day.
|Spinach salad with Fish and Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant and Zucchini, Apple|
Vegetables are full of nutrition and fiber, and most of them are naturally low in calories. The more colors you incorporate into your day the bigger the variety of nutrients you are consuming. Vegetables will help keep you full longer, and help prevent overeating. An added bonus of crunchy vegetables (carrots, celery, etc) is that they take longer to chew, which can help your body recognize satiety (fullness) signals more quickly.
|Egg, Spinach and Bacon|
3. Eat Protein: Protein will help your muscles grow stronger and repair more quickly. It also helps keep you full and satisfied throughout the day. Research is variable on the amount of protein you should consume per day. However, most people trying to build lean muscle aim for 1 gram per pound of desired body weight.
|Baked Fish and Vegetables|
4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: Whoa! Did I really just say that? I sure did. I keep dark chocolate chips in my freezer at all times. If I have a major sweets craving I have a few chocolate chips (remember rule #1 about portion sizes!)
Remember, you can satisfy your sweet tooth while eating clean. Get creative, and try to steer yourself closer to fruits and away from overly processed sugars.
If you let the cravings build without ever appeasing them it can lead to binge eating of very unhealthy items. Also, a "diet" will only work if it is a lifestyle change that you are able to stick to. For most of us that means we need to incorporate in some sweets. Don't be afraid to try some healthy versions of your favorite dessert. You just might like it!
I'm a big fan of Sincerely Yogurt. I stick to the Original Flavor, which is refreshing and delicious, and I top it with fresh fruit. Jesse usually gets the chocolate.
Some Recipe Ideas: Peanut Butter Oat Stuffed Baked Apples, Protein Chocolate Frappucino, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Frozen Banana Bites
5. Log Your Food: Try keeping a written or photographic log of your food. Snapping photos of everything you eat, or writing it down can help you be aware of what you are putting into your body. It can also help you identify if there are certain foods that trigger you to over eat. On the flip side, it can be a great tool to tell you when you aren't eating enough. Eating to much and eating to little are BOTH detrimental to your health and fitness. Food is fuel for your body. To little food and you catabolize your muscle, which increases your body fat percentage. To much food and you become sluggish and consume extra calories which can lead to weight gain.
Remember, contrary to what you can find on Pinterest, Calories are NOT little creatures that sew your clothes tighter in the night. Calories are simply a measure of energy. 1 Calorie = 4.184 Joules. Calories measure the amount of potential energy that a food item has. It takes your body a certain amount of energy just to pump your blood! One gallon of gasoline has about 31,000,000 calories. You wouldn't fill up your gas tank with gasoline, and then start pouring the gas into the back seat. You also wouldn't be able to drive your car on an empty tank. Fuel your body with what it needs.
This doesn't have to mean counting calories! Many people find counting calories useful, but it can become something that people get hung up on or start doing compulsively. If you are one of those people it's probably better to just skip number 5. Having a healthy approach toward food will get you results faster, and keep you saner than counting calories. I log my food at the end of the day when I am done eating. That helps me keep the log as a tool for learning, and not something to get fixated on.
I hope you find these tips helpful! See you tomorrow for Day 1 of the new 30 Day Challenge!