Making Strong Nutritional Choices
It’s November and the Evolution Holiday Countdown Challenge is in full swing. Participants are already getting stronger and most are taking up new healthy habits to live by!
Considering part of the challenge is making improvements in the category of nutrition, I took today as a great opportunity to share with you some strong nutritional choices you can make to not only shed some pounds, but help gain some lean muscle in the process.
The writing is on the wall
I’ve already had a couple clients share with me just how blown away they are with the ingredients that are listed for some foods. During the challenge, participants are challenged (no pun intended) to not consume dairy, gluten, sugar, or alcohol. If they cheat on one they don’t get a point for that day.
This has led some to get hip to the game and check nutrition labels before they purchase certain foods. This is a MUST when you’re making new nutritional choices.
The labels don’t lie, but the pictures will. Check to make sure the food you’re buying actually has a good portion of what it says in it. For example, take a look at the list of ingredients in Jiffy Peanut Butter
Made from roasted peanuts and sugar, contains 2% or less of: molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, salt
Dry roasted peanuts, palm oil
Will you pay more money for Justin’s? Probably, but the point of making strong nutritional decisions is to actually help make you strong! Here are some other tips to help you make better decisions when purchasing foods.
- Look for foods that have minimal ingredients – 4-5 max is ideal
- Avoid things that you can’t pronounce – chances are its not real food
- Buy foods that require a bag to purchase – examples: produce, nuts, and grains
Plan For Success
I’ve written before how planning and preparation is the key to success. This tip will take that a step further and actually help you plan out individual meals.
When planning a meal or a snack, most people think about what tastes great first. Sounds reasonable, but often times that means thinking of what type of carb you’re going to have. Instead, follow this order of decision making to plan/prepare strong meals.
Your protein source should be the number one food you plan. Everything in your meal should be planned around this choice
This is an often forgotten step. Eating healthy often means eating a lot of the same things. While you may eat chicken 6-7 times a week, mixing up the seasoning will at least make it taste like you’re eating something different every now and then. This could also help you plan your sides. For example, Mexican seasoning might pair well with a salad and beans. Or Indian might be better with brown rice.
Notice how we still haven’t addressed carbohydrates yet? Planning in this order will make the healthier foods more of a priority in your diet. Aim for dark green, leafy vegetables as well as vegetables bright in color. Raw instead of cooked. Seasoning with olive oil, salt, and pepper are tasty ways to add some flavor.
Fats are healthy and should be included in every meal. Some examples of healthy fats would be oils such as olive, avocado, and coconut, nuts such as almonds, cashews, and pecans. Avocados are a great selection as well and especially homemade guacamole!
Last but not least, pick your carb. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and sprouted grains are excellent healthy carbs. Often times people think of gluten-free as being carb-free. That’s not the case and in fact, all the foods listed above are not only great carbohydrate choices but also gluten-free by nature.
Talk to the hand
We’ve discussed how to plan/prepare meals and what to look for when you purchase foods, it only makes sense now that we end by talking about how much food you should eat!
- Protein – The size of your palm
- Vegetables – A fist worth
- Fats – The size of your entire thumb
- Carbs – A cupped hand worth
Men should have 2 of everything, women 1.
While this isn’t exact, nor a one size fits all model, it does provide some guidance and will be more than helpful for most of you.
As a general rule of thumb… if you follow these steps and you’re still hungry, start at the top again choosing protein and vegetables. I don’t know anyone who has gotten fat eating protein and vegetables!
These 3 tips will go a long way in helping to create healthier nutrition habits. Strength is the name of the game in fitness; lift weights, drink water, and make the strong nutritional choices outlined here and you’ll do more than conquer a 21-day health challenge, you’ll provide the blueprint for a lifetime of nutritional success.