Written by: Luke Douglas
Much like a morning isn’t complete without a proper cup of coffee, your exercise routine can do little without a diet plan as its trusty sidekick. Think of food as your fuel – your body and your mind will run only as smoothly as you allow them with proper nutrition.
With the growing hype around complex dieting regimes, people seem to forget those few simple principles of healthy eating, which are in fact the only guidelines you need for tailoring your own perfect menu.
You don’t need to become a walking encyclopedia of food facts to have enough information about healthy eating habits.
It’s enough to know the basics, learn how to read the labels and count your calories, educate yourself on the main aspects of how our body works, and keep your dinner plate versatile.
The same goes for listening to your body because no expert can pinpoint what your preferred meal times are, how much of each macro-nutrient your body requires, how often you should eat, or how much water you should drink – It’s up to you to discover your “sweet spot”.
Stock up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds
A plant-focused diet is a dream-come-true for fitness enthusiasts and a perfect basis for anyone who wishes to lose or maintain a healthy weight, improve their immunity and provide their body with all the macro and micro-nutrients through food.
They are low in calories, but teeming with healthy fibre, vitamins and minerals, so they will improve your digestion, feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, help you stay resilient and serve as an ideal addition to every meal, plus a reliable snack.
You can mix and match between raw, steamed, cooked, and baked veggies, while fresh, frozen and dried fruits are your best choice, and smoothies are excellent for in-between meals.
If you’re an omnivore, then you can further enrich your meals with healthy, lean proteins, such as chicken or turkey, grass-fed beef, or even some fatty salmon. A healthy adult needs approximately 1g of protein per 1 kg of body weight, which will make up about 35-40% of your diet.
There are plant sources of protein as well, such as lentils, chia seeds, beans, and in case you can eat dairy, milk, yoghurt and all sorts of cheeses (especially cottage cheese) are all packed with protein.
Remember that they are known as the building blocks of life, so don’t shy away from a healthy protein intake, especially if you lead an active lifestyle.
Despite their bad image, healthy fats should actually make up for a significant portion of your meals.
However, instead of consuming trans-fats found in fried foods, the essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 can be found in whole eggs, avocados, full-fat dairy, coconut and olive oil, among many others.
Keep in mind how you store and prepare these ingredients – your jar of Nutiva Organic Virgin coconut oil can be safely stored in your pantry, although it may become liquid at high temperatures, while olive oil shouldn’t be used for cooking.
Steer clear of Processed Foods
This food category has a bad rap for numerous good reasons. Processed foods have been linked to obesity, chronic diseases such as diabetes, and cardiovascular issues, to name a few.
They are far from nutritious, they are borderline addictive which leads to those insatiable cravings, and they are teeming with added sugars and artificial ingredients to boost their flavour.
Think sodas, store-bought cookies and salty snacks everyone is crazy about. Other than being calorie-dense, there is nothing healthy your body can obtain from those foods.
For busy bees who need an extra health boost for a complete diet, you can include various supplements to make up for what you cannot obtain from food.
Various vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be resolved with high-quality supplements, while you can also use delicious Optifast meal replacements to prevent even the most hectic days from affecting your nutrient intake.
Although you shouldn’t rely on these options daily, they can serve as a practical, time-saving choice until you replenish your grocery stocks.