So, you’ve decided to clean up your diet and make some healthy nutritional changes to your life. Great! But with the massive number of fitness magazines and websites blasting you with overwhelming—and often confusing—information, where do you start?
In 2011, the United States Navy released “The 10 Nutrition Rules to Live by,” a publication revealing 10 simple but effective changes you can implement to fuel your body correctly and with the right nutrients. Following these rules may promote weight loss, increase energy throughout the day, and help your body recover from tough workouts.
- Come Back to Earth:
Choose the least-processed forms of food, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and high-fiber carbohydrates.
- Eat a Rainbow Often:
Eat fruits or vegetables with each meal. Choose a wide variety of colors for the biggest benefit.
- The Less Legs the Better:
Include a lean protein source with each meal.
- Eat Healthy Fats:
Include healthy fats in your diet, such as olive oil, nuts, natural nut butters, seeds, avocado, fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
- Eat Breakfast Every Day:
When you eat within 30 minutes of waking up, you jump-start your metabolism. This gives you more energy to get your day going.
- Three for Three:
Eat smaller portions more often, spread evenly across the day. No excuses – you should be eating four to six meals per day! Aim for all three macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) every three hours for optimal fueling.
- Stay Hydrated:
Dehydration = Decreased Performance. Drink at least three liters of non-caloric beverages (water/green tea) every day.
- Don’t Waste Your Workout:
Have a post-workout recovery meal or shake that combines both carbs and protein immediately after your training.
- Supplement Wisely:
Fuel first and supplement second. If you are not getting what you need through food, add a multivitamin supplement into your daily routine. Create a smart supplementation program that improves your performance without compromising your health or draining your wallet. Before you take any type of supplement, make sure to check with your doctor or registered dietitian.
Aim for eight hours of sleep. If you can’t get eight hours daily, consider power naps when you can. The body recovers and repairs best when it is sleeping.
While you may be tempted to begin following all of these rules at once, pick just 1 that would be the easiest to implement into your life. Then, start even smaller: set a daily goal that is specific, realistic, and sets you up for success. For example, a poorly planned goal may be to “Drink more water throughout the day.” There isn’t anything specific to aim for, and you can’t really measure your success. Instead, you could set a goal to bring and drink one 32oz bottle of water at work per day. The next week, fill up 2 32oz bottles of water throughout the day. Continue in this gradual, incremental way to solidify your healthy habits and add new behaviors to your daily routine. The key is to take the time you need to build up the habit. If you rush through, your behaviors will be less likely to last in the long run.