When it comes to getting optimal results for yourself or for clients, specificity to training and nutrition always breeds the best results. That is, training and nutrition should always be specific to the person. But with everyone being their own individual person with individual needs it can be confusing to know what will work for one person and not another person. How many carbs can you have? Do you carb cycle? Will intermittent fasting work for you or will it mess up your hormones? What about if it fits your macros (IIFYM)? What macro portions should you have? Will taking fish oil help you lose fat like it did for person X?
You can ask a hundred questions and depending on what your goals are, there can be a hundred questions that you could look at. A professional athlete or a physique competitor will often need an expert to give them nutrition and lifestyle advice, but for most people, nutrition doesn’t need to be overly complicated. At the end of the day, nutrition is often quite simple for most people; it’s the daily habits and routines that complicate things.
Having said that, I do understand that not everyone aims to compete in a physique competition or join a sporting event. Some of you may have just decided to start your healthy lifestyle and are simply looking to hit the gym and clean up your food.
If you are a beginner just hopping on the fitness wagon and aren’t too sure where to start your nutrition, here are 5 healthy eating guidelines you can follow to make sure all your hard work in the gym pays off.
1. Don’t get caught up in what worked for someone else.
The first thing you should understand when it comes to healthy eating, is that no one diet is going to work for everyone. The diet that the fitness model on Instagram model raved about for months may not work for you. Track your diet and then make changes based on what works and what doesn’t work. Track and experiment until you find something that works for YOU.
2. Eat whole, natural foods.
Whether or not you believe in eating meat, dairy or grains, your diet needs to revolve around whole, natural foods. The more local and organically produced you eat, the better (but not completely necessary, cost can be a factor). Cut out processed food and foods with a hundred different ingredients that you can’t even pronounce. Cook as much as you can with whole foods.
3. Don’t fall for labels.
Just because something says “All-Natural,” “Low Fat,” or “Gluten-Free,” doesn’t mean it is healthy or good for you. Do not fall for labels that are just meant to sell you a product. Stick with whole, natural foods as much as you can and read the ingredient list to determine for yourself if something is healthy.
4. Keep it simple!
All too often we overcomplicate our diets. We get stuck on tons of small details when we don’t even have the main pillars of our diet set. Start with the basics. Then worry about the details. When we get bogged down in the details, we get overwhelmed and generally give up on our diet. Pick out a few healthy foods you enjoy and build your diet around them. Pick out recipes around these foods. Try to pick recipes that require many of the same ingredients so your grocery list is short and simple. Keep it simple but also learn to add in a little variety every once in a while to prevent you from falling into a rut with your diet.
5. Preparation is key.
When we aren’t prepared, we give ourselves an excuse to deviate from what we know we SHOULD be doing. Meal prep and planning are extremely important especially when starting a new healthy diet. The easiest way to be prepared is to cook meals that make more than one serving so that you have leftovers for later that week. Preparation is also key for when you travel and even plan to eat out. Decide ahead of time how you are going to eat. Are you going to “cheat?” Or are you going to stick to your diet? If you make up your mind ahead of time, you will have an easier time not deviating from your plan. A great way to prep for trips or meals out with friends is to look at the menus or at least know what your basic healthy options are when you dine out. The more you can prepare yourself for different situations, the better off you will be. Being happy with your decision is also key even if you aren’t completely prepared. If you do end up cheating, don’t regret it. Enjoy and get right back on track the next meal!
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