12 Rules for better nutrition that will help you lose weight, have more energy, and live a healthier life overall.
1. Eat Small Frequent Meals – Every 2-3 Hours.
Since it requires energy for your body to digest and absorb the nutrients from foods, there is an increase in metabolic activity every time you eat. Eating small frequent meals every 3 hours will help to keep your metabolism burning at a higher speed all day long as it is using calories to break down the calories from the foods you consume. In addition to eating small frequent meals throughout the day, it will help to keep your insulin and blood sugar levels stable, which will help to increase your energy levels and decrease the amount of extra calories your body wants to store as fat.
2. Never Skip Breakfast
Eating breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is the first meal to get your metabolism jump started for the day. While you are sleeping at night your body’s metabolism slows down as a way to conserve energy. Eating breakfast gets your metabolism up and running for the day.
3. Avoid Simple Sugars
The problem with eating a diet high in simple, processed carbs is that the hormone insulin is not well controlled. As a result, individuals predisposed to weight gain will have a difficult time controlling their weight, even with proper exercise.
Simple sugars cause an instant increase in blood sugar levels, spiking the insulin levels required to remove the access sugar from your blood circulation. The extra sugar that your body can not store in the muscle cells, becomes stored as fat, to be used as a source of energy later. So when you eat too many foods high in sugar your insulin levels are constantly elevated causing an increase in fat storage.
4. Eat a Lean Source of Protein at Each Meal.
It requires energy to digest the calories that you consume. This is known as the thermic effect of food. Each of the different nutrients that you consume through your diet has a different thermic effect. Out of all of the nutrients protein has the highest thermic effect. Approximately 25 percent of the calories consumed from protein are burned during the digestive process, compared to only 15 percent of the calories from carbohydrates. Fats on the other hand have little to no thermic effect and as a result they should not be your main source of calories.
What this means for you is that consuming a source of lean protein with every meal will help to increase your metabolism because of the natural thermic effect it has during the digestion process.
*This same rule applies to vegetarians as well.
5. Eat Vegetables at Each Meal.
In addition to a complete, lean protein source, you need to have some vegetables every time you eat. You can toss in a piece of fruit here and there as well, but don’t skip the veggies. Eating Veggies at every meal will help to maintain constant blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day.
6. Save Your Carbs for Post-Workout Meals.
You can eat fruits and fibrous carbs (veggies) whenever you want. However, if you want to eat a carbohydrate that’s not a fruit or a vegetable (this includes things like simple sugars, rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, etc), you can – but only after a workout! Reward yourself with a good carbohydrate meal after a workout. Immediately after exercise is the best time to consume carbs, because the stored glycogen in your body’s muscle cells will be depleted from the workout and need to be refueled.
For the rest of the day, stick to eating your protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats.
7. Eat Healthy Fats.
Forget about the belief that eating fat makes you fat. Including healthy fats in your diet can dramatically improve your health, and even help you lose fat. Good examples of healthy fats include; mixed nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil.
8. Drink Water – Avoid all Liquid Calories
All of your drinks should come from non-calorie containing beverages. Drinks like: Fruit juice, alcoholic drinks, and sodas should all be removed from your daily fare because of the high sugar content in these drinks. Liquid calories add up quickly. Your best choices are water, crystal light, and green tea.
9. Focus on Eating Only Whole Foods.
Most of your dietary intake should come from whole foods. There are a few times where supplement drinks and shakes are useful, but most of the time, you’ll do best with whole, largely unprocessed foods.
10. Stick to the 90% / 10% Rule.
I know how challenging it can be to follow a nutrition plan. Let’s face it; we all have foods that we enjoy. For example, I love pizza. Do I remove it completely from my diet? The answer is no. I simply apply the 90% / 10% rule. Here is how it works. For 90% of the time you adhere to the rules of the nutrition program. This allows you to break the rules the other 10% of the time and allow yourself to eat or drink what you want.
For example, if you are eating 6 meals per day for 7 days of the week –that is 42 meals so 10% of 42 is about 4 meals per week. So 4 times per week you can have a cheat meal, but limit it to only 4! (Remember drinking counts as a cheat meal. So if you know you are going out for drinks; make sure you save one of your cheat meals.)
11. Develop food preparation strategies.
With our busy schedules, the hardest part about healthy eating is being consistent. This is where preparation comes into play. You might know what to eat, but if it is not available at that point in time, you’re more likely to make poor choices. They way around this is to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. I personally like to schedule time on Sundays and Wednesdays to prepare my meals and put them in tupperware containers. When I am leaving in the morning, all I have to do is grab a container and head off to work.
12. Balance daily food choices with healthy variety.
Let’s face it, when you’re busy during the week, you’re not going to be spending a ton of time whipping up gourmet meals. During these times you’re going to need a set of tasty, easy to make foods that you can eat day in and day out. However, once every day or a few times a week, you need to eat something different, something unique and tasty to stave off boredom and stagnation. Experimenting with new healthy food choices can be fun.