You're on a diet. Whether you think so or not, it’s true. Your diet could consist of chicken nuggets, nachos, and diet soda. Or maybe it's a Muscle Milk for breakfast, pad thai for lunch, and frozen pizza for dinner. Whatever goes into your mouth on a regular basis is literally, your diet.
More often than not, people think that a diet is a resolve to all their health issues; that a 30-day challenge is the way to a healthier life. But what happens when the diet ends? What happens after the 30 days are up, or when you go back to your old habits? You gain the weight back, you feel like shit, and you’re right back to where you started. I hear this same sad story over and over again. Most diets are just quick fixes. Limiting your food intake to grapefruits, high amounts of fat, or portion sizes that couldn’t feed a newborn, are unrealistic expectations and do nothing but set you up for failure.
Reaching your goals requires more than just a diet you practice intermittently when you feel like losing a few pounds. It requires an entire lifestyle change, commitment, and most of all consistency. I’m here to give you the correct knowledge to start you off the right way, the healthy way, so that you can be successful in obtaining the results you want not for 30 days, but forever. Here are 5 simple steps to create the best nutrition plan for a healthier life.
1. Eat Fewer Carbohydrates
Over the last thirty years, the average American diet has increased by 500 calories per day, with nearly 80% of those added calories attributed to simple carbohydrates or sugar starches. The simple reason; packaged and processed foods are more easily accessible than ever and it’s cheap. Donuts, fries, pastries, pie, sodas, and chips flood grocery store aisles and provide a quick fix to your hunger. The problem is that convenience foods cause your blood sugar to spike, secreting insulin to help pump it out, which creates more body fat and leaves you less satiated and still hungry. This is why you’re hungry all the time. By the time your body stores all the blood sugar, you’re hungry again, creating a never-ending cycle of hunger and added body fat.
Carbohydrates are sugars and starches that provides fast-acting fuel and energy for your brain, muscles, and metabolism. Glucose is stored in the muscles as glycogen (glucose chains) and when you workout, glycogen is released from the muscles and the liver to help fuel your body with energy. However if you over consume carbohydrates and don’t burn off all the extra glucose or sugar, glycogen levels can fill to capacity. When that happens your body converts the excess glucose right back into body fat.
So what should you do? Eat the right carbs is what.
Carbs can be distinguished into two main categories, simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates are simply sugar and come in the form of glucose and fructose. Glucose raises blood sugar quickly and foods that are higher on the glycemic index (GI) has a greater impact on blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates are the type of carbohydrates you should be eating. As opposed to simple carbohydrates, which is simply glucose and fructose, complex carbohydrates are composed of multiple sugar molecules that keep you fuller for longer. Foods like sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole-wheat grains, whole-wheat pasta, and butternut squash provide you with the proper nutrients you need to keep you satiated. When you’re full, you eat less.
Complex carbohydrates can also be divided into two categories of fiber: insoluble and soluble fiber. Fiber is structured as a bundle of sugar molecules, however unlike simple carbohydrates, it has no effect on blood glucose levels. Human digestive enzymes are unable to break the chemical bonds that hold the sugar molecules together and as a result, it passes through the digestive tract at a slower rate, reducing the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream in lieu of removing cholesterol. A good example of this would be oats, bran, nuts and non-starchy vegetables. Opt for a healthier breakfast and have oatmeal instead of toast. It won’t spike your blood sugar and it will keep you fuller for a longer period of time.
(READ MORE about Simple Vs Complex Carbohydrates)
2. Add More Quality Protein
All protein is not created equal and surprisingly most of the protein found in the average American diet is actually obtained from Soy. I know what you’re thinking, but just because you don’t eat Tofu doesn’t mean it’s not in your diet. Foods that claim they’re high in protein such as cereals; energy bars, or granola usually contain high amounts of soy. Most vegetable oils and fortified flours are also made with Soy, which means that the fried foods you eat, are as well.
Unlike other proteins, soy is an incomplete source of protein, meaning that it lacks in the essential amino acids you need to build and maintain lean muscle mass that you get from more quality proteins like chicken, fish, beef, and eggs.
What should you do? Cook more food at home. You’ll get more complete sources of protein such as chicken, beef, turkey, pork, and eggs. Greek Yogurt is also a great option when you’re looking for high protein content. Not to mention it’s an amazing source of probiotics for healthy digestive health. If you find yourself hungry in the middle of the day, don’t go to the convenience store and eat a convenient food. Drink a protein shake and use Whey Protein Isolate. Isolate is the purest form of protein and has the highest amount of Leucine, which is the essential branched chain amino acid that activates protein synthesis, or the muscle building process.
3. Eat Less Starch And More Whole Grains
Starch is found in carbohydrates like white rice, white bread, and pasta. Starch is made of long chained sugar molecules, held together by a weak chemical bond. Once digested, they’re absorbed more quickly and will cause your blood sugar to spike, creating a roller coaster like we talked about earlier. The simple solution - replace them and eat more whole grains, complex carbs, vegetables, and fruit.
Produce contains a ton of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your body function at a more optimal level. The average American intake of vegetables consists of just two well-known culprits; potatoes and iceberg lettuce. You need to diversify. Go to a local market that has fresh fruit and vegetables and try new things. You’d be surprised at how many pounds you can drop, by just cutting back on your starch intake and replacing it with quality sources of organic produce and whole grains.
4. Get Rid Of Refined Sugar
It’s easy to get sugar in your diet. Through all of the sweeteners added to food, it’s more important than ever to be conscious of what the ingredient list on your food labels contain before you buy them. Additives such as corn syrup, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, and maltodextrin are added inconspicuously to foods like cereal, bread, peanut butter, and salad dressings.
If you need something sweet then opt for something natural like apples, berries, or dates. Make sure to read nutrition labels and shop at local grocery stores that provide organic, healthy options. Lastly, stop eating donuts, ice cream, and candy every day of the week. Treats are supposed to be treats, not regular items in your diet. Remember, everything in moderation. Read more about how sugar can create micronutrient deficiencies
5. Fat Does Not Make You Fat
Out of all the macronutrients, (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) fat is the only one that does not cause insulin to release. Despite its villainous name, fat is only guilty by association. Fat does not make you fat, carbohydrates and added sugars do. But with all the different types of fat, it can be confusing which ones you should include in your diet and which ones you should stay away from.
Transaturated fat is the one you want to stay away from. Trans-fats are vegetable based, which have been infused with more hydrogen making them hydrogenated such as margarine, which is directly linked to high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs) are found in foods such as nuts, olives, and avocados are considered good fats that are vital for complex biological and metabolic reactions. MUFAs will help burn body fat, keep you full and decrease hunger levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also considered a good or healthy fat as they help with inflammation, boost brain function, help fight heart disease, and even decrease signs of aging. Fish, walnuts, and avocados are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The easiest way to get your essential Omega 3 fatty acids is through supplementation. Opt for Krill Oil, as it’s more bioavailable and contains the world’s most powerful antioxidant Astaxanthin.
Creating a healthier life to look good and feel great is more than just a temporary change. All diets work to a certain degree short term. But the reality is that no diet is sustainable unless you make a complete life change. With so much misinformation on TV, the internet, and from misinformed friends it can be hard to pave a path through what’s good information and what’s just plain disinformation. Whole, grains, good fats, complex carbs, and lean proteins will create a diet that’s natural, healthy, and sustainable. Make a commitment to your health, and most of all, be consistent.
No matter how good your diet may be, we all have gaps in our nutrition. Make sure and get the nutrients you need to help bridge those gaps with our WELLNESS stack or our essential Once A Day Vitamins And Nutrients