The Importance of Healthy Nutrition
From nutritious foods to a healthy diet
Table of contents
Obtaining a fit and healthy body requires you to follow a very clear path. Combining an effective exercise routine, managing your stress levels and getting enough sleep are part of that path. However, there is one other ingredient that needs adding to the mix, and that is the need to follow a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Getting your diet right is one of the most difficult aspects of a journey to a fitter you. It is something that we all need to try to be on top of at all times. Work, emotions and everyday life can play a role in how we fuel our bodies, adding to the difficulty of eating clean. The bad news is that there is not really a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition either. Our diets need to respond to the way we live our lives and our fitness routines.
This is why a personal trainer can help you manage your diet in accordance with your life and exercise programme. They can provide you with a bespoke plan to help you achieve the body you always wanted. Until you choose to go bespoke with your diet, here is my very own guide to a healthy diet which utilises the latest research in nutrition.
1. What Makes A “Healthy Diet”?
We all aim to have a healthy diet because, as it suggests, it keeps us healthy and makes us feel great. The most difficult part about obtaining a healthy diet is choosing a variety of foods in our bodies so we benefit from a variety of nutrients and vitamins. This is because there is no single food that contains everything we need. It would be great if we could eat one meal and it could meet all our nutritional requirements, but that isn’t possible – and let’s face it, it would be pretty boring.
As a result, we need to fuel our bodies with a variety of different foods stemming from different food groups. We need to take on carbohydrates, protein and good fats in the right amounts, as well as sourcing lots of other good stuff from fruits and vegetables.
There is another thread to what makes up a healthy diet. Along with balancing the types of foods you consume, you also need to consume them in the right portions. They need to be taken on in line with your own activity levels to allow us to maintain a healthy weight. To do this the number of calories you consume from food and drinks need to balance the number of calories you burn during the day.
This is what makes nutrition a bespoke topic. What makes up a healthy diet for one person is not always a healthy diet for another. At the moment, the UK Government recommends that males should consume around 2,500 calories within a 24-hour period, while females should consume 500 calories fewer each day. This should be taken with a pinch of salt as the number of calories you require actually depends on more than gender. A healthy calorie intake will depend on your height, current weight, muscle mass and activity levels. A personal trainer can help you calculate these things accurately.
2. How Exercise Changes Our Nutritional Needs
Above describes how a healthy diet needs to be consumed in a way to give us the right number of calories for our daily activities. When we exercise, we burn even more calories than on days when we do not go to the gym, go for a swim and so on. This means if we wish to maintain our weight, we need to consume more calories to compensate for this extra energy expenditure.
This is the main benefit of a balanced diet for exercising purposes. Moreover, healthy nutrition does more than just making sure we maintain our healthy weight. It also helps us perform exercises better and helps us achieve better results within workouts. It can even help improve our concentration and thus prevent avoidable injuries. A nutritious diet also aids our bodies after we exercise by replenishing our muscles and preventing you from becoming overly fatigued or burned out.
What to Eat Before Working Out?
Obtaining energy from your diet to be able to perform exercises well requires an intake of energy. One of the go-to sources of energy is carbohydrates. This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean we can indulge on our favourite Italian cuisine. Carbohydrates should be sourced from the right amount of whole grains and can even be efficiently sourced from fruits and vegetables.
These should be consumed between two and three hours before your gym sessions or sports event begins. You should also try to take on more food after your session. Some people find it difficult to eat straight after exercising and this is fine. Just do not forget to eat post workout or you might not recover as well as you could the next day.
What to Drink before Working Out?
Along with fuelling your body the right amount of energy to partake in exercise safely, you should prioritise staying hydrated while you exercise. When we exercise our blood flows around our body faster and the body naturally starts to heat up. The body reacts to this by attempting to cool ourselves down through sweating. When we sweat, we lose water and salt through our skin. This needs replacing to allow us to stay safe while working out – and even helps with the recovery process.
To stay hydrated effectively there are a number of sports drinks on the market which are rich in the things you need. Note, there are a number of sports drinks that are bad for your overall nutrition. A personal trainer that is up to date on the latest research will be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to sports drinks to stock up on, and those to avoid. If in doubt, stick to water. If it’s good enough for big and strong lions, it’s good enough for us!
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3. The Best Foods for A Balanced Diet
The best foods for a healthy and balanced diet can be found at your local grocery store. There are lots of tropical and unique foods that we may not have come across before and if you can source them then give them a try. They may just be the answer to your struggles to diversify and balance your diet. Nevertheless, we can still achieve a healthy diet with everyday foods found here in the UK.
I already mentioned carbohydrates above and how we can get these from whole grains such as wholegrain pasta and wholegrain bread within moderation. However, first and foremost, I am a champion of sourcing our carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Including plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet is crucial in helping the different systems within your body to function effectively. One top tip is to try to choose fruits and vegetables that are different colours to improve the balance of nutrients you consume.
Along with carbohydrates, we need to intake enough protein to help our bodies function and to help us build muscle and become stronger. Meat is a great source of protein, but it is by no means the only or the best way to have enough protein in our diet. There are plenty of alternative foods to meat that gives us enough protein such as nuts, seed and other plant-based sources. Explore all your options when aiming for a high-protein diet, especially if you have dietary requirements.
Fat is also an essential part of our diet, but this does not mean we can load our plates with fatty red meat and cake. We need to differentiate between the different types of fats. In simple terms there are two types, one which is bad for us and can lead to clogged veins and arteries – and further health complications. There are also good fats which offer our bodies a lot of benefits when consumed in moderation. These good fats can also be sourced from nuts, seed and even oily types of fish such as salmon.
4. Top Practical Tips to Eat Better
The previous section and the next section discuss the exact types of food which make up a healthy diet. For some of us though, knowing what to eat is not the problem but sticking to our diets is. This may be due to stress, work or other emotions that make us crave unhealthy foods full of sugar.
First of all, we need to recognise that we are human and slipping up every so often is natural. We should also treat ourselves to the foods we really enjoy but do this in moderation. By allowing ourselves to eat less-healthy foods we avoid the mentality of denying ourselves something and avoid craving it even more. To try and reduce the number of times you ditch your diet and take a stroll down the cake aisle, here are six top tips to avoid emotional eating and overeating.
- Replace Your Cravings: During your Netflix binge it is easy to get a craving to binge on something else. Maybe it’s a certain brand of crisps or a cream bun. The thought may pop into your head and you try to hold off but sometimes you give in and head to the kitchen cupboard. One way of avoiding this is to replace wrestling with the idea of indulging in unhealthy food by doing something else. The best examples revolve you leaving the house such as taking the dog for a walk, jogging or even heading to the gym. Other examples include calling a friend you have not spoken to for a while or doing a shorter home workout and stretches.
- Avoid distractions: One of the things that leads us to overeating and indulging is unnecessary distractions. I understand that seeing those mouthwatering desserts from your favourite restaurant or café on social media is great to see, but sometimes they can be the drop that spills the bucket. Try unfollowing bad influences or pausing them for some time while you try to overcome a difficult stage in sticking to your diet.
- Use Plates: When we do decide to let ourselves enjoy a treat we often make a common mistake. This mistake is that we do not eat a small enough portion size. This usually occurs because we eat straight from the packet or as every breakup gettogether knows, straight from the ice cream tub. Crisps and ice cream rarely come in a portion for one and because we eat from their containers we do not know when to stop. Instead of eating from the packet, when we do decide to have a treat, try and place it on a plate or in a bowl so you can track how much you are actually eating.
- Snack on Protein and Fibre: Snacking on protein and fibre rather than snacking on foods high in sugar and carbohydrates will make you feel fuller for longer, and thus reduce the craving to overeat. Nuts are a great example of a food that can help you feel full. Just be sure that you choose nuts that are not covered in salt as this will defeat the purpose.
- Dinner Invitations: Just because you are watching what you eat and redeveloping your eating patterns does not mean you cannot enjoy food. With the right attitude and a sprinkle of adventure in the kitchen, meal times can still be exciting and something to look forward to. One way of making those meal times remain nutritious and healthy is by carefully choosing who you send dinner invites out to. Try to dine with people who also like to watch what they eat as they are less likely to have a negative and unsupportive influence on your diet.
- Take It Slow: Some of us eat way too fast and it causes our brain to not recognise that we are full, leaving us to eat away until all the food hits us at once and we can no longer get off the recliner. If you can make a conscious effort to eat slower, you will notice the actual point when you are full and not eat as much. If you portion out your food accurately this may not be an issue, but if it is an issue then consider a cutlery set that is smaller. A smaller knife, fork and spoon is ideal for making you take longer to eat your meal.
5. The Best Foods That You Aren’t Eating
6. Nutrition to Lose Weight and Build Muscle
When you aim to use your diet to build strength and lose weight, it is crucial that you do not just count the calories you consume, but also that you ensure you are consuming the right macronutrients. You need to take on plenty of protein, the exact amount will hinge on a number of things that a personal trainer can explain, as well as good fats and the right number of carbohydrates from the right sources.
One myth when trying to build muscle is that you need to eat lots of smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. Eating like a king at breakfast and continuing to eat six other high-protein meals is not verified by the latest research. In fact, by eating lots of these smaller meals throughout the day you are harming your insulin levels and let’s not forget that it is also bad for your teeth. Moreover, eating patterns are only effective to an individual rather than something that can be blanketed across all fitness fanatics. Based on these latest research results, I often promote to my clients that they should eat two big meals each day – and the results of my clients show that this works best. However, this is not always the case and it is more beneficial to create a bespoke diet that suit the individual.
Some people choose to add supplements to their diet. This may be done with the goal of improving performance or aiding recovery. Not all supplements are going to be healthy for you or effective. When choosing supplements, it is best to find ones that are in agreement with your digestive system, has minimal sweeteners, additives and flavours – and is affordable.
7. Your Own Bespoke Nutritional Plan
The above information gives a great insight into the basics of a healthy and well-balanced diet. Use this information, along with the recommended foods and the tips to stick to your diet, to improve the way you eat. If you can make a handful of small changes and progress with your positive eating habits, you will undoubtedly notice a difference in the way you feel, look and move.
Remember, the advice above is the tip of the iceberg and you can benefit even more from a tailored diet that matches your lifestyle and exercise plan. As exercising and nutrition go hand in hand, it is even more beneficial if you have a personal trainer that is up to date on the latest nutrition research. This way you can benefit from a bespoke training programme and a tailored nutritional plan that complement each other, meaning you get even better overall results in both departments.
I have worked with a number of clients who were struggling to obtain the results they hoped for. With my nutritional advice combined with a bespoke exercise plan, they were able to maximise their results, achieve them quicker and feel good about themselves again. For more information on how I can provide you with tailored nutritional guidance, contact me now and let’s discuss you!