When you think of the word diet, what do you think of? Probably something along the lines of miserable, strict, and/or boring. Dieting gets a bad rap because of the past. Fad diets have proven to be unsustainable for most, and honestly unappealing to even more. Fear-mongers have driven us to think whole entire food groups are not good for us (protein causes kidney issues, carbs make you fat, fats make you fat, and the most recent trend of carbs make you fat …again). There is a plethora of information (good and bad) out there so I can’t blame you for not ever sticking to a diet, nor lacking the knowledge of what exactly makes a good diet anyways.
In my opinion, there really is no “best diet”. In fact, the best diet is highly individual to the person starting it. What works for Jane next door, most likely won’t work for you. Why? Well, to put it simply, you are not Jane. The most important factor when starting a diet is making sure that it is going to be sustainable and fit your lifestyle.
We compiled a few tips to not only help you ease into a healthier lifestyle, but to also hopefully steer you away from jumping into the next juice cleanse, 30 day detox, or worse.
This seems to be the first mistake most individuals make when starting a diet. They immediately try to change their entire lifestyle in order to adhere to this new (and pretty large) part of their life. A diet should be like a new relationship. You obviously aren’t going to move in, marry and have children with your new partner all within one week, so why should something that literally keeps you alive every single day be any different? Small, baby steps will not only lead you to success, but allow you to learn more about yourself and this new endeavor in the process which will ultimately lead to sustainability. For example, if you are a total nutrition newbie and really don’t even know where you stand with your current nutrition. Take a few days to track your current intake using an app (We love the MyMacros+ app!) just to see where you current standing is. Are you a carb-ivore? Do you love your fats? Lacking in protein? This will give you a great idea of what areas you need to improve upon.
Speaking of protein, shift your focus to protein starting now. With a lot of our new clients we find that most individuals are under-consuming protein. Without getting too technical, a good starting place would be to focus on getting a source of lean protein in at every single meal throughout your day. The RDA for protein is pretty low at only .8g per kilogram of your bodyweight (to get your bodyweight in kilos simply divide it by 2.2). For athletes it is recommended to consume about 1g per pound of your bodyweight. So while everyone requires different amounts, shooting to hit somewhere within that range, while also incorporating a source at every meal should be helpful if you are trying to increase your protein intake.
And no..we don’t mean to go shop at the store. While we don’t advocate a full-blown “clean eating” method as it can be restrictive and also force you to think of certain foods as good or bad, we do suggest filling your day with mostly whole food sources. By doing this, you are getting in quality micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as helping to keep your body full-especially if you need to diet on lower calories (see the next tip for more on that). By replacing packaged food sources with either fresh or frozen fruits/veggies, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products, you will give your body a well-rounded intake of the macronutrients, micronutrients and energy it needs to…well you know keep you alive and kicking. We suggest shooting for the 80/20 rule– 80% of your day should come from nutrient dense sources, leaving around 20% to be foods that maybe aren’t so healthy, but enjoyable. By leaving yourself a little wiggle-room, you aren’t restricting things you may like, you aren’t totally sabotaging your goals, and you can still have that piece of birthday cake, cookie before bed or head out for ice cream with your family without feeling like you totally killed your diet.
Drinks add up! Replace any beverages you may drink daily (soda, iced tea, etc) with water. Water is also highly under-consumed and it’s safe to say the majority of people spend their days dehydrated without even knowing it. A good suggestion is to have at least 1/2 of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. So for those of you who are visual: I weigh 125lbs—I need at LEAST 60 ounces of water daily. That number increases if I exercise/sweat a lot. Plain water is obviously optimal, however if you really cannot stand plain old water, adding in some Crystal Light, or zero-calorie flavor shots is a great way to increase the amount of water you drink daily.
So before you jump into the next big diet that your BFF wants you to do, take these 4 tips first. We can guarantee you if you simply start by adding in these small steps, you will start to not only see a change in your body, but also in your energy levels and overall health. This is certainly just the tip of the iceberg for optimal nutrition, so if you can adhere to these 4 things yet still want more of a change, it may be time to take it to the next level. Email us if you feel that you are ready for more of a push, a higher focus on nutrition, and want to learn quality techniques to give you a happier and healthier life.