Before we begin I want to make it clear that I am not an expert in nutrition. Outside of some basic undergraduate level classes, I do not have a formal education related to nutrition. Although nutrition is very important to me, I am not willing to complete the required hours of schooling in order to become a registered dietitian.
With that being said, if you want to shed body fat and/or weight on the scale, the foods you eat are just as important, if not more important, than your exercise program. I have heard the saying a million times, “you can’t out-train a bad diet”.
If you are new to exercise or would just like some information on where to start, follow the steps below. It isn’t as specific as what you would get from a registered dietitian, but it’s a safe and effective way to get you started on the right path!
- Eliminate sugars and processed foods from your diet.
- For optimal recovery, be sure to eat after your workouts (preferably within 30 minutes of finishing). You break down muscle tissue during a workout. Your body needs protein and other nutrients to rebuild and repair the muscle.
- Consume lean proteins at every meal. This will leave you feeling full for a longer period of time.
- Drink more water and eliminate all calorie-containing beverages… Beer, soda, etc (worst case scenario limit as much as possible if you can’t cut out completely. I know cutting out alcohol completely isn’t an option for many). You should aim to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces of water each day. Our bodies are about 70% water so you need to stay hydrated as often as possible. Water also helps with weight loss because often times we eat thinking we are hungry when you are actually thirsty.
- NEVER skip breakfast. “I don’t have time before work” is not an excuse. Stop hitting the snooze button. When you wake up in the morning, your body is in a fasting state because you have probably not eaten in 7-9 hours. Breakfast will aid in getting your metabolism started and getting your body the nutrients it needs. (Never is capitalized because I really mean NEVER!)
- Eat throughout the day. Do not let yourself skip meals because it often leads to overindulging later in the day. Skipping meals will also send a message to your body that it needs to slow down your metabolism because you aren’t getting enough foods and therefore it needs to hang on to everything and store it as fat.
- Vegetables are your friend and should be eaten throughout the day. Green vegetables in particular are a great way to help fill you up without adding unwanted calories.
- Don’t avoid fats. They are essential- our bodies need them in order to function properly. Just make sure to eat the right kind of “good” fats (almonds, cashews, walnuts, avocado, olive oil).
- Keep a nutrition journal. Research shows we lie to ourselves. We underestimate how much we eat and overestimate how much we exercise. If the scale isn’t moving, it probably isn’t just from looking at food.
- Follow the 90-10 rule. If 90% of the time you eat the right foods, you are going to look good and feel great.