Maintaining a healthy diet is imperative to fueling your daily activities and exercises. Getting the right amount of calories and nutrients allows you to perform your best, but choosing vegetables over sweets isn't always that easy. It's important to know not only what types of food to eat, but also when to eat them. Read on to learn more about HEALTHY BREAKFASTS, WORKOUT SNACKS, and MEAL PLANS.
Getting Off to a Good Start
Starting your day off right means fueling it with the right foods. For all you breakfast skippers out there, I'm talking to YOU. When you're an early-morning exercise guru, skipping breakfast can leave you feeling lightheaded and lethargic while you're working out. Eating a balanced morning platter also replenishes your blood sugar, so you're giving renewed energy to your muscles and brain. According to an article published in the Harvard Health Letter, establishing a healthy breakfast pattern reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Eating breakfast is important, but what you ingest is even more so. Choosing the right foods to decorate your plate with is crucial. Too many people rely on simple carbs to fuel their morning routines such as bagels, toast, sugary cereal, or doughnuts. These food are crippling later in the day to your energy reserves, and won't keep you feeling full for long. It's best to stick with a breakfast that is rich in fiber and protein to fend off hunger pains, and to provide the energy you'll need for extended hours of the day.
Here's a few tips:
- Try implementing eggs (egg whites are best)
- Whole grain oatmeal
- Almond milk
- Peanut butter
- Green smoothies
Picky Eater? Fine. Let's Break it Down...
Maintaining a high energy reserve consistently throughout the day can be difficult if you work a regular 9 to 5 job. That's why it's important to pre-prep some on-the-go snacks that can be easily eaten at the office.
Let's talk about carbs...
Carbs have truly gotten a bad rap with the rapid growth of low-carb and ketosis diets in today's society. However, carbs are your body's main source of energy, so it's important to choose the right kind for snacking. You should focus on eating the complex carbs found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Naturally we digest whole grains slower, so you'll feel fuller and have more energy as you go threw the day. Not only that, but this is where you get the natural vitamins and minerals your body runs off of.
Protein that packs a punch...
Protein keeps your body growing, helps to build/maintain muscle, and aids in the repair process. It also acts as a source of energy when your carbohydrates are in short supply. On average as adults we need to ingest 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Broken down scientifically, this means you need 0.36 grams of protein per bodily pound. If you are older, or are an over achiever that likes to exercise till the cows come home, you'll need more.
- chicken and turkey
- red meat
- fish, such as salmon and tuna
- cheese, milk and yogurt
- legumes, such as beans and lentils
For the healthiest options, choose lean proteins that are low in saturated/trans fats, and limit the amount of red and processed meats you ingest each week.
Boosting your fruit and veggie intake...
Fruit and vegetables are what your body needs to stay balanced, and to provide your body with a fully-functioning digestive system. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the recommended dose of your daily mix should fill at least half your plate. You can invest in buying different varieties of dried fruits to take on the road, or take little goodie bags to work to bust through those mid-day cravings. Here's some examples of pre-prepped snack compilations I enjoy putting together for my busy work days (there's protein snacks listed too):
- Celery filled with peanut butter and raisins on top ("Ants on a log")
- Blueberries, almonds, and bananas chopped and mixed
- Apples with peanut butter
- Grapefruit slices
- Dried figs or Apricots
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Fueling Up for Fitness
When it comes to fueling up pre or post workout, maintaining the right balance of carbs and proteins is essential for feeling more energized to perform your best. Below are some easy snacks to throw in your workout bag before heading off to exercise.
- Berries, Grapes, Oranges
- Nut butter
The do's and don'ts...
- Try and portion your meals our every 2-3 hours so it keeps your metabolism high.
- Too much of a good thing is still bad, so keep your portion sizes small. You want to aim for a small appetizer plate's worth of goodness.
- Pick one day to cook your foods for the week, so that way you can portion them out into small containers that are easy to grab and go when you're in a rush.
- Change it up! When you get bored of eating the same thing every week, you're become complacent and divert from the path. Switch out the meats/veggies/fruits etc. with something different each week to keep your pallet happy, and your diet plan going strong!
- Don't give up! The goal is to be your best self, for nobody else but YOU. This is you're achievement, and you're the one who gets all the credit in the end. Make it worth your time and effort by giving it all you've got.
Take Away- Balance is Key
As you settle into an active lifestyle, you’ll probably discover which foods give you the most energy and which could be tweaked to better fit your metabolism. The key is learning to listen to your body and balancing what feels right, with what’s good for you. Follow these tips:
- Aim to make breakfast a part of your routine.
- Pre-prep your meals and snacks to take with you.
- Choose complex carbohydrates, lean protein sources, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and veggies.
- Stock your fridge and gym bag with healthy workout snacks to curb those mid-day cravings.