A person's diet is the number one key to achieving the goals they desire in any fitness program they partake in. Use these great suggestions when shopping, dining out, preparing your own, and more right here!
Diet is an ugly word that conjures up thoughts of deprivation and filling your growling stomach with bland, boring, food. However, one must realize that "diet" is merely the makeup of your daily intake of food and it doesn't necessarily have to be restrictive and mundane.
A person's diet is the number one key to achieving the goals they desire in any fitness program they partake in. You know the old saying, "you are what you eat" is the best quote and should be your inspiration and motivation in making wise and informed decisions on what you put in your mouth.
This article will hopefully help you to determine what to look for when going grocery shopping, dining out, preparing and eating your own food to improve your "diet" and hopefully will give you some suggestions and insight to keep you on the path of a healthier, slimmer, you.
The Basics Of Nutrition
You should strive to eat at least 5 to 6 small meals a day that are spread 2 to 3 hours apart. Each meal should have some source of protein with it and can be combined with fibrous carbs (think vegetables) or starchy carbs (think fruits, grains and potatoes). Beyond that, the best advice I can give you is to choose whole, fresh, unprocessed food that exists in their most natural state.
For example, instead of eating cereal which is highly processed and can be full of sugar and chemicals you can't even pronounce, why not try a bowl of plain oatmeal, cream of rice or oat bran that is sweetened and flavored with Splenda and cinnamon or maybe some chopped pecans with some sugar free syrup.
Try eating raw or lightly steamed broccoli instead of broccoli smothered in cheese and butter. Replace lunch meat that is highly processed with chemicals and preservatives with real turkey, beef or chicken. The point is, consuming fresh whole foods is the best route to take when it comes to feeding our bodies.
The mentality one needs to have concerning diet, is that of fueling our bodies to perform throughout the day and to keep our energy up and our minds sharp.
Now that you know a little about how many times a day you should eat and what kinds of foods you should be eating, we can touch on the topics of condiments, food preparation, and food substitutes.
The purpose of this article is to inform you of healthy alternatives to help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals in conjunction with an appropriate workout program.
In the following categories, I will give you some examples of common food additives that can in fact be replaced with healthier options. Again, my advice to you is to experiment with these healthier alternatives to find what suits your palate the best!
Coffee Creamer And Sugar
- Low-carb protein shakes or RTD's (Labrada, Muscle Milk Light, or Pure Pro)
- Soy milk or Almond Milk (I like Soy Slender or Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk)
- Stevia, Splenda, or Equal
- Flavored sugar-free coffee syrups
Juice And Sugary Drinks
- Crystal light
- No-sugar-added light juice
- Your own fruit juices made from fresh fruit
- Diet soda
- Crystal light mixed with carbonated seltzer water
Whole Or 2% milk
- Skim milk
- Soy or almond milk
- Limit at all costs because it's the #1 factor in gaining weight and belly fat
- Fat-free Promise Butter
- I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray
- Molly McButter
- For Baking replace butter in recipes with fat free yogurt, fat free sour cream, sugar free applesauce, shredded zucchini or carrots, or pureed dates or figs
- Use Pam non stick cooking spray for sauteing, grilling or pan frying
- Fat-free dressings but beware of hidden fructose corn syrup (check the ingredient list on the nutrition label)
- Make your own dressing by mixing flaxseed oil, Mrs Dash or other herbs, peppers, onions etc. and balsamic vinegar (my favorite is the Golden Balsamic Vinegar as it is sweeter)
- Mix mustard with Splenda and a little water to make a virtually fat-free low-cal honey mustard dressing
- Salsa or lemon wedges
- Top your salad with fat-free cottage cheese
Toppings, Seasonings And Marinades
- Fat-free ranch dressing on potatoes
- Fat-free sour cream, cream cheese or yogurt
- Balsamic vinegar
- Mrs Dash seasonings and marinades
- Sugar-free maple syrup
- Walden Farm products
When dinning out or eating at friends' houses, don't be afraid to quiz the server or your host/hostess on how the food was prepared. Shy away from terms on the menu like sautéed, creamed, fried, breaded, drizzled, etc and ask for all sauces to come on the side.
Make smart decisions and when in doubt order a salad loaded with lots of veggies with a clean source of protein such as chicken, steak or salmon. Order your salad dressings on the side and dip the fork in the dressing and eat with the salad instead of drenching the salad with unnecessary calories.
The Lesser Evil?
When making choices regarding nutrition and meal planning, think and ask yourself, "What is the lesser evil?"
My suggestion to you is to take a trip to the grocery store and compare similar products so that you can get an idea of which ones are the better choices—this is what I do with my clients. They literally get a lesson in nutrition and what to look for at the grocery store because I want them to know that there are healthier options out there that don't taste like cardboard!
You want to choose the lowest sugar, least processed, low sodium products and try them. See what healthy options taste good they do not all taste great but experiment to see which ones will work for you!
Making any modifications or changes in your diet is never easy! I suggest that you start out slow and make a few small changes every week to prevent from becoming overwhelmed and giving in. You almost have to retrain your taste buds to crave the natural flavor of food.
When was the last time you ate a vegetable that wasn't doused in butter, cheese, salt or salad dressing? Just remember that all of the little additions to our food add up into a bunch of unnecessary calories. It is the little things like putting sauces and dressings on the side and dipping your fork into it for a little taste and weighing and measuring food to be sure of the food portions that are being consumed, that can make a huge difference in your ability to lose weight.
By shaving off a few calories here and there, being aware of portion sizes, and choosing whole unprocessed foods, you will in turn be saving hundreds of calories which will result in losing those unwanted pounds!
Hopefully this article gives a few basic ideas to get started but remember, no nutrition plan will work without you the participant, to be consistent and dedicated to see it through.