Fitness nowadays has become more than a trend — it’s a necessary part of life to maintain health. With so many resources available, it’s become easier than ever for people to get started on their own journeys to wellness, even at home. We’ve previously written about home exercises in our feature ‘How to Do Cardio at Home’, where we talk about easy cardio exercises that you can do on your own.
Regular exercise isn’t the only thing you need for fitness, however. You also need to have the right kind of fuel for your activities. That’s where the proper diet comes in. There are tons of services that offer diet plans that can fit your needs, but you don’t need to spend extra just to eat right. Below, we’ve compiled a list of quick and easy methods for improving your diet and ensuring you get the nutrition you need.
While many diets may urge you to work at a calorie deficit, if you’re doing a lot of exercise that might not be the healthiest path. Our bodies need the right amount of calories to function properly. Basing your nutrition on hard numbers without any consideration of your actual activity isn’t the way to go. Instead, try to be mindful of how many calories you’re taking in, and whether those numbers are appropriate for your fitness goals.
Verywell Fit has a calorie calculator that can help you map out how much you burn during exercise, and whether you need to up your food intake to meet that goal. This can help you manage your caloric intake, while fostering a deeper and more positive understanding of those numbers. We should eat to take care of our bodies, and just how much depends on our lifestyles and daily activity, not on arbitrary numbers.
It can be hard to fit in a full workday, an exercise routine, and still have time to plan out your meals. To fill in nutrition gaps, it might be time to think smarter— that’s where superfoods come in. Superfoods are so-called because they’re packed with nutrition, allowing you to get the fuel you need without breaking the bank.
In an article on Brightcore it states that superfood powders are beneficial because they fulfill a lot of roles. They’re anti-inflammatory, alkaline, can stabilize your blood pressure, and do much more than your average diet. If you’re worried you won’t have enough time to put together a good meal, then superfoods could be the solution.
It might be tempting to reach for that bag of chips at the end of a long, hard day, but learn to hold yourself back. The best way to avoid temptation is to simply change your purchasing habits— put away those processed snacks and start buying healthier ones.
Not sure where to start? Get inspired by Self’s list of healthy snacks that even fitness experts eat. It includes favorites like avocado toast and plain oatmeal with berries, as well as exciting new options like berry applesauce smoothies.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
If there’s one thing not a single person can go without, it’s water. Staying hydrated is important not just so you can keep yourself looking youthful, but because it’s absolutely necessary for the continued function of your body. Everyday Health says that water is especially important for body processes like elimination and digestion. It’s actually more possible for you to survive without food than to survive without water.
We’ve all heard the recommended daily amount of water is around 8 glasses per day, but that’s a generalization based on average body types and average physical activity. You’ll need to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of hydration, especially if you do high intensity exercise or have a diet high in salt. Plus, water is actually great for weight loss, as it’s a non-caloric liquid that can help you feel fuller faster.
Try Meal Planning
One of the hardest things about improving your diet is consistency. A lot of people may find that they put the effort in for the first few weeks, but distractions like a busy work schedule or other things might get in the way. Then you’re finding yourself being less mindful about your food and falling back into bad habits. That’s where the importance of meal planning comes in.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that meal planning can actually help you save money and improve your health. It doesn’t even have to be overly complicated. All you need to do is list out what you want to eat for the next few days, and then estimate which days are busy days. On those days, you can opt to plan for a meal that doesn’t require much prep or setup, while still taking into account proper nutrition. This reduces the chances of slipping up and buying fast food on the go, keeping you healthier in the long run.
Opt for 80%
This next tip might seem surprising, but you might want to give it a try. There’s a Japanese approach to eating that basically means “eat until you’re 80% full.” This originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which has the highest percentage of centegenarians in the world.
While longevity is dependent on a lot of factors, eating until you’re only 80% full is a helpful way to ensure that you’re keeping on top of your nutritional needs. How so? Well, the effect is mostly psychological. Being mindful of how much you’re eating helps overeaters cut back on binging, while helping under-eaters keep from feeling “too full.” This 80% approach allows you to think more carefully about what you’re eating, slowing down the actual process and contributing to a better feeling of fullness.
Do Your Research
Finally, the most important thing you need to do for your new lifestyle is to simply do your research. This doesn’t just mean understanding the science behind what you eat, but also simply knowing what food you need and where to find it. Do you live near a farmer’s market? What are the options at your local grocery?
You can apply this same logic to dining out. We all need a pick-me-up every once in a while, and setting aside time to cook full meals can get tiring. Luckily, The Food Network has put together the healthiest options from major restaurants, so you can treat yourself without going off your diet.
Getting fit is a lot of hard work, but you’ll find that the results are always worth it. When you eat better, you feel better, so don’t be afraid to invest the time and effort into a healthier diet. Good luck, and happy eating!