Consume The Right Amount of Water
Everyone knows that you must drink water to maintain proper body function, hormone levels, etc. Most people might even realize that they should be drinking more than they currently are, but how much should we be drinking?
I received the following equation from Dr. Eric Serrano, which you can use to determine how much water you should be consuming daily.
Formula for daily water consumption (ounces):
Body Weight (lbs) X .5
185 lbs X .5 = 92.5 oz daily
I keep a 32.oz water bottle with me at work and I try to drink about three bottles of water a day. If I am more active and thirsty, I will consume more based on my body’s needs.
If you are nowhere close to the number you should be at, ramp up the intake slowly and work your way up to your desired level over a few weeks.
Rule #2 Consume More Vegetables
This one is pretty simple and I am sure most people could be a lot better about consuming more vegetables. By adding more vegetables to your diet, you are guaranteed to feel much better and your body will appreciate it. You may think it is hard to eat veggies when you are on the go and it might take a little more planning but it can be done. I like to bring carrots to work for their simplicity. That way I know I am getting some veggies during the day and then I make sure to eat more variety with my dinner.
Another helpful strategy is to vary the vegetables every two weeks or so. I tend to get on kicks, sometimes I consume spinach for a week and then I get a craving for broccoli. Another tip is to make a big batch of steamed vegetables over the weekend so that when you come home from work throughout the week, you have vegetables that are already cooked and ready to eat.
Consume The Right Type of Carbohydrates
For most people, carbohydrates should be the smallest amount of food consumed daily. This is, of course, excluding carbohydrates that come from fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates consisting of simple sugars (i.e. high fructose corn syrup, very refined grains, etc.) should be avoided. Read labels and don’t consume the contents if one of the first ingredients listed is some form of sweetener (typically high fructose corn syrup). Work on eliminating simple sugar carbohydrates and start eating small amounts of carbohydrates in the complex form, such as:
Whole fruits (not dried)
Beans / Legumes
Wholegrains – brown rice / brown pasta / quinoa
Potato / Sweet Potato
Consume Only Natural Foods
It has always puzzled me that people who want to lose weight and be healthier start eating foods that are manufactured to help them achieve their goals. Packaged Lean Cuisine foods, diet bars, diet drinks and supplements are all processed. People who are more concerned about the cholesterol in a hard boiled egg than all of the preservatives and artificial ingredients in their energy bar, have missed the point.
The human body is an amazing organism that can assimilate nutrients from almost any source and turn them into useful energy. But just because our bodies are able to function on nutrients from sub-optimal sources, does not mean we are functioning well. To give our bodies what they need for optimal performance, we need to eat as many natural foods as possible.
What makes a food ‘natural’ vs. processed? Isn’t drinking apple juice the same as eating an apple? The answer is no. Even something that does not have any preservatives like 100% apple juice is not as good as the unprocessed whole fruit. This is because important nutrients, like fiber, are lost when the food is converted into another form. As for the manufactured foods that contain almost no remnants of anything that used to be whole (or natural), they are obviously worse. Unfortunately, once the body has taken what it needs from manufactured foods, the rest of the ingredients — the chemicals and the preservatives, get stored as fat cells.
Detecting a natural food source at the superficial level is pretty easy. I am sure everyone can identify a bowl of strawberries as being natural compared to a strawberry flavored McDonald’s shake. Other foods might not be so obvious. At first glance, jars of common (insert brand name here) peanut butter and the “natural” kind may not seem any different. However upon looking at the label the popular major market brand has quite along list of ingredients containing things like sugar and hydrogenated oils–which are trans-fats. Avoid ingredients that say;
•! Hydrogenated oil
•! Partially hydrogenated oil
•! Solidified oil
In the beginning it will be difficult, but reading food labels is the only way to truly understand what you are putting into your body. By eating only real whole foods your body will function at a far higher level and you will feel more energised, have a better skin quality, repair muscle faster and perform better. Aim to include all of the following whole foods:
•! Nuts (raw or in natural butter form)
•! Cottage cheese
•! Whole Eggs
•! Chicken breast
•! Lean cuts of meat
•! Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Cod)
•! Mixed beans
•! Whole fruits
- Whole Grains
- Potato / Sweet Potato
•! Extra virgin olive oil
•! Virgin coconut oil
•! Raw mixed nuts
Some foods claim to be healthy, but are not natural foods and should be avoid at all costs:
• Most processed lunch meat
• Fast food
• Non natural “nuts” such as corn nuts, beer nuts,
•! Regular bread
•! Added sugars
•! Most cereals
•! Soda (even diet)
•! Fake juices and drinks (Crystal Lite, energy drinks etc.) •! Fruit juice
•! Most energy and fruit bars •! Candy
•! Vegetable oil (soybean oil)
•! Corn oil
•! Heated/fried oil
If you want to really get into understanding where your food comes from, you can go one step further and examine the animal products you consume. We have all heard the old saying “you are what you eat” which is pretty much true; you can also add a small caveat by saying “you are what the food you ate, ate.” It is sad, but not all animal products are created equal. Salmon may look like just another piece of salmon, however one could be “wild” from Alaska eating its traditional diet making its meat rich with Omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy nutrients. The other type of salmon could be farm-raised eating a non-traditional diet of corn grains, pumped full of antibiotics to combat their crowded living conditions and injected with dyes to achieve the “desired” pink color that is unachievable because of their unnatural habitat. If you are really striving for optimal health then you will want to look into where you food is coming from and how it was raised and fed.
If you want to do more research on healthy food choices, I recommend that you pick up “150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” by Jonny Bowden. This book is one of the best I have seen in the nutrition industry because it gives a simple, yet complete view of what you should be eating and why. No diet programs, calorie counting, or supplement peddling, just some good, honest facts about the best foods on earth.
Eat More Often Starting With Breakfast
This one is pretty simple and most people have heard that they should eat throughout the day. The number of (small) meals is not important and might vary daily depending on activity levels and time, but the bottom line is to eat more often, starting with breakfast.
It is amazing to me how many people get up and do not eat anything for three of four hours. I am usually not terribly hungry right when I get up, so I have one of my small meals then. This is important because eating breakfast within a half hour upon waking is important for establishing proper metabolism for the day. If you do not consume something for breakfast, your body will be playing catch up all day long, your metabolism will not be ideal and you will not get the results you want.
To be successful with eating small meals, organize and pack a few things to bring with you for the day. I try to get my meals squared away the night before. On a typical day I will have some fruit, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, and even a package of tuna with me when I go to work. I get up a half hour before I leave and eat something small; throughout the day I have several small meals, and when I get home I eat a satisfying dinner.
Rule #6 Follow the 90-10 Rule
Just like weight training, proper eating must be consistent if you want to get the best results. Consistency takes time, discipline, and conscious effort. But it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself every so often.
It would be incredibly difficult for most people to completely avoid things that they like for a prolonged period of time. Even as you begin to eat healthier and realize that there are foods that you were previously eating that you no longer want, there will always be one or two foods that you crave every once in a while. Whether it is chocolate, ice cream, or alcohol, there is not a need to eliminate treats completely from your diet. They just have to be consumed in limited quantities. That is where the 90-10 Rule comes into play.
The 90-10 Rule is simply eating and drinking well 90% of the time and 10% of the time you can satisfy your cravings in moderation. Not too bad right? If you wanted to get a better idea of this you can do some simple math by multiplying the number of meals/day times the number of days in a week and then take the percentages you are looking for.
Personally, I have found the best way to accomplish this task is to be eating clean during the weekdays. That is when I am working and less inclined to go out to dinner or engage in social activities. During the weekend I will keep moderation in mind but not worry if I go to a friend’s house and eat the food that might not be the best for me or indulge in a beer or two.
If you follow this rule you can guarantee yourself success and reach your goals without feeling like you have to sacrifice every indulgence.