Starting your nutrition journey is never an easy process, and for most of us the “quick fix” diets and fad food journeys are quickly becoming a broken way of the past. Indeed, yo-yo dieting and plenty of misinformation in the nutrition world has left many of us scrambling to sort through what is good for us, and what isn’t. Coupled with a desire for food convenience and lack of planning, the road ahead often appears harder than it should. In fact, it’s fair to say that almost all of us looking to improve our nutrition and live healthier lifestyles need concrete, long term habits for life. Furthermore, finding what works for your personalized nutrition needs can be a challenge based on your food preferences, work/life schedules, and budget (to name a few). Thankfully, there are 5 nutrition “must have” habits that, when introduced over time, can be utilized to effectively bust through these obstacles and achieve your ideal you!
Habit #1: Vegetables with every Meal
We’ve all heard it before, eat your veggies! Nutritional science has continually shown us that in addition to the micronutrients (minerals/vitamins) abundant in vegetables, they are also filled with phytochemicals that are essential to physiological functioning. Another interesting aspect to keep in mind is that vegetables are an alkaline food, meaning they bring the PH levels in your body to good levels. In short, too much acidity in your body (high fat and processed foods) equates to loss of bone strength and muscle mass. In general, 10 servings of vegetables/some fruit are a good benchmark to aim for each day (for example, a half cup of chopped raw vegetables equals one serving). Again as you start out, build up to this number slowly.
Habit #2: Eat slowly!
In our fast-paced western world, many of us eat way too quickly. Coupled with our innate desire to eat to fullness, it’s no wonder our waistlines have grown! This habit in particular is important because it teaches us to listen to our hunger and appetite cues. While focusing on what to eat is undoubtedly important, how we eat is just as critical. For example, it takes about twenty minutes for our satiety mechanisms to kick in properly as we eat. A good starting point is to look at eating for around fifteen minutes each meal. When starting out, turning off your television, chatting with your dinner partner, and putting your fork down in-between bites are effective tools you can utilize to your benefit. If you are unsure of when to stop, a good rule is to look for about eighty percent full. This will enhance your appetite for the next meal, give you better performance at your next Movimento workout, and better sleep when you eat before bed.
Habit #3: Protein with every meal
Most of us know that protein are the building blocks to our muscles, but why is this component critical to every meal? For starters, reaching your optimal protein needs throughout the day is optimal when you continually feed your muscle cells with the right fuel. In terms of protein portion sizes, a good “rule of hand” is quite literally that: For women a palm sized portion of protein per meal, and for men we double the number to two palm sized portions per meal. And of course, consume a variety of protein that works for you. By adhering to this habit, you will not only ensure a necessary level of protein but you will also stimulate your metabolism, reduce body fat, and improve your muscle mass/recovery time.
Habit #4: Get your healthy fats in!
Did you know that between twenty and forty percent of your diet should come from fat? In general, about thirty percent is a good place to start. There are three main types of fat: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated. To keep it simple, aim for an intake of about a third for each. Polyunsaturated examples include: fish oil, walnuts, flax seeds, and peanuts. Monounsaturated examples include: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and pecans. Lastly, saturated examples include: animal fats (eggs, cheese, meat), coconut oil and palm oil. Overall health, body composition, optimal cellular function and workout performance are a few of the main benefits we get from fat intake, so make sure to include them in your nutrition!
Habit #5: Eat a majority of your Carbohydrates after exercise
Most of us love our carbohydrates! However, if you are looking for fat loss, you’ve got to earn your carbs by exercising first. Think of it as a controlled carb diet, not necessarily super low carb diet. The main reason we are looking to have our carbs after a Movimento workout is because exercise ramps up your metabolism and energy processing, effectively burning more fuel and allowing your body to tolerate the higher calorie dense starchy carbohydrates. Examples of these include starchy carbs such as whole grain pasta/rice/bread, oats, potatoes, and cereal grains like wheat and rye. For your best results, keep the sugary drinks and highly refined starches (ice cream, white bread, etc.) to a minimum. Lastly, watching your portion sizes is important as well, so look to ensure you are eating the right amount for you!
Following these five main habits is an excellent starter to a great nutrition journey, and if you have any questions do refer to your Movimento trainer/nutrition coach for more personalized options if needed. Remember, every nutrition journey starts with that first step! Believe in yourself and make it yours today!