We all know maintaining a healthy diet can be hard. Fad diets might look great but they’re almost always a bad idea. More important than jumping on the latest bandwagon are getting plenty of the right ingredients, enough sleep and lots of exercise. Luckily, there are four simple changes you can make to your meal plan to help you perform better, feel better and recover faster.
Cut calories by up to 40%. A healthy diet isn’t one that stuffs you at every meal. Eating until you’re full and saving the rest for later might mean eating a little more slowly so you can feel when you’re full before over indulging. Decreasing caloric intake has benefits such as extending life, delaying onset of numerous diseases, enhancing performance and allowing your body to reach its optimal weight. Read your food labels, stick with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, dine on lean cuts of meat and get plenty of fiber to help you fill up without racking up the calories.
Get lots of antioxidants. Antioxidants are the human body’s cleaning lady. Free radicals create all kinds of mayhem by attacking healthy cells in your body and can cause premature aging, diabetes, and cancer. Antioxidants work to counteract and neutralize these free radicals, so having plenty of them in your body helps keep you looking young and disease free. Even better news is that all of these antioxidants come from the brightly colored vegetables that are a big part of your healthy diet. Five servings a day of foods like almonds, broccoli, tomatoes, pinto beans, berries, carrots and pineapple will keep your snacking, and free radical fighting antioxidant, supply fresh.
Eat foods that have a low glycemic response. The glycemic index (GI) measures how the carbohydrates in a given food change blood sugar levels. High GI foods are quickly digested and cause spikes in blood sugar levels while low GI foods digest slowly. Slowly digested carbohydrates help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss by controlling hunger. A healthy diet leaves out high GI foods like white bread, white rice, and sugary drinks, includes a few medium GI foods include whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and corn tortillas and loads up on low GI fruits, vegetables, intact nuts and legumes.
Eat healthy fats. A healthy diet is home to good-for-you fats and kicks the bad, saturated and trans-fats to the curb. Eating lots of bad fats, which are usually solid at room temperature, has been proven to increase levels of bad cholesterol and your risk of disease. Healthy omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and protect the heart while benefiting overall health. Bad fats are found in butter, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, commercially packaged cakes and pizza doughs, candy bars and margarine. Healthy fats are in olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, peanut oil, and avocados. Omega-3s are a special type of fat best gotten from fish that have been proven to benefit heart and brain health, reduce symptoms of depression, support healthy pregnancies, ease joint pain, decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and protect against memory loss.
Take these tips to the grocery store on your next trip and start working on a healthy diet today. Your body will thank you by being healthier, happier and performing both mentally and physically at a higher level.