If you’re committed to a resistance-training program, you can instead pack on muscle by following a number of key nutrition and supplementation tips. But first, you’ll have to toss out any remnants of how most Americans eat.
If you’re active and train hard, you likely burn a lot of calories each day. It’s very difficult to eat clean foods that replace all the energy you’ve spent in just three meals. That’s why bodybuilders—competitive and recreational alike—eat 5-8 meals per day to support mass-building. While most individuals still eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they also eat a number of high-protein snacks as well.
If you’re looking to add size, it makes sense to eat multiple meals every day, not just three. Taking your meals to work or school means planning and preparation, but it’s an essential habit that separates those who succeed from those who don’t.
Changing your eating habits isn’t always a cakewalk, but thankfully, the benefits that come along with eating healthfully are just as sweet. When you eat healthier, you feel better, both physically and mentally. Today, we’re sharing six ways to improve your diet.
Make Simple Swaps
It’s easy to reach for frozen pizza, chips, and other extremely processed foods. However, these foods cause unnecessary physical and emotional stress. Instead of settling for unhealthy choices, why not make the switch to refreshing, whole-food substitutes?
When you make food swaps, you cut down on added sugars and other pointless fillers. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion indicates that in 2015, most Americans exceeded the recommended intake for added sugar, saturated fat, and/or sodium intake.
Here are a few of our favorite swaps:
- Replace white, refined carbohydrates with whole-grain options. Whole grains introduce more fiber into your diet, while white bread, flour, and rice contain added sugars and chemicals. Don’t forget to pick up a whole-grain cereal, too!
- Cut out the soda and find a healthier alternative, such as coconut water, kombucha, or sparkling water.
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- Switch out your chips and dip for hummus and seed crackers. If you’re not fond of dips, try air-popped popcorn.
- Eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. It has much less sugar, and it tastes more decadent. Don’t overindulge, though—while dark chocolate contains antioxidants, it’s still chocolate.
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Prepare Meals At Home
It’s easy to make healthy goodies in your kitchen that have a lot less sugar than store-bought items. When you eat out, you’re subject to hidden and not-so-hidden fats. To cut back on unhealthy fats, prepare your meals at home. You’ll know exactly what’s going into your dishes, and you’ll also increase your healthy and unsaturated fat intake.
Plus, restaurants often give you larger portions of food in a single sitting. When you eat at home, you control how much food you’re putting on your plate.
Best of all, you’ll be saving money. Think of it this way: for the price of one meal out with a date, you can prepare a few healthier meals for the two of you from the comfort of your kitchen.
Increase Your Fruit And Vegetable Intake
If you want to drastically improve your diet, make it a point to eat foods of all colors of the rainbow; you get the most nutrients (both vitamins and minerals) from real food. The trick is to be creative. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, as long as you incorporate a variety of foods into your diet.
The best part is that you don’t always have to eat fruits and vegetables raw; there are sneaky ways to incorporate these foods into your meals or snacks. You can:
- Toss cabbage, celery, corn, mushrooms, or peppers into a soup or stew
- Make baked oatmeal with apples, bananas, peaches, or strawberries
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- Whip up a juice or smoothie with your favorite fruits and veggies
- Create healthier cakes and desserts with carrots, sweet potatoes, or zucchini
Ready to start your journey now? Include just one extra fruit or vegetable into your next meal and go from there. In no time, you’ll be eating a real food diet.
Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water
Water is the most vital liquid for our diets. In fact, water makes up 50-75% of our bodies. Of course, we need it more than sugary beverages!
As previously mentioned, soda isn’t good for you—and it’s not good for your wallet, either. The trouble is that some people don’t particularly enjoy the water. If you find water to be “boring,” the good news is that you can still find foolproof ways to drink more of it.
One way to make water more exciting is to add berries and/or herbs to your water. While you could also buy fruit-infused water from the store, these contain artificial sweeteners. Just stick to fresh-cut produce, such as basil, cucumbers, grapefruit, strawberries, lemons, and mint.
There are also apps that hold you accountable for your daily water intake; you’ll receive push notifications when it’s time to hydrate.
If you don’t eat breakfast, now’s the time to start. A nutritious breakfast sets you up for success, as you’re more likely to continually make healthy choices during your day. It gives you energy, a metabolism boost, and motivation to stick with whole, nutrient-rich foods.
Plus, a filling breakfast prevents overeating and giving into cravings later. Your breakfast can be as simple as a bowl of oatmeal with fruit or as elaborate as eggs, vegetables, and your choice of lean protein. Stick to whatever healthy breakfast foods make you feel good!
Give Into Temptation—In Moderation
Restriction can lead to a slippery slope—you may binge or intentionally eat less. Therefore, it’s best to accept that you’re craving a particular food and eat it in moderation.
When you “ban” a certain food from your diet, you want it more. Try to set an 80/20 rule for yourself: eat healthy 80% of the time, and save the remaining 20% for the foods you crave.
The bottom line is that you can still eat the foods you love—just reduce your portion size or eat these foods less often.
- Chew your food thoroughly. Often, whether we’re in a hurry or in need of a comforting supplement to our favorite TV show, we unintentionally rush through our meals. When you eat slowly, you help your body’s digestive system and can better detect your fullness.
- If you don’t keep unhealthy food in your home, you won’t eat it. It sounds like common sense, but you might be surprised by how often you mindlessly snack on foods you shouldn’t always have. If you want a treat, you’ll just need to go out and get it. Conversely, keep healthy food within easy reach.
- Listen to your body. At a young age, people learn to eat until they finish their plate. However, you should eat when you’re hungry, and stop eating when you’re full. If you skip meals when you’re hungry, your metabolism will slow down. Eat, and eat until you’re satisfied. This way, your body can perform at its best (and you won’t feel uncomfortable for the rest of the day).
- If you feel overwhelmed after you read about these healthy eating habits, don’t fret. You don’t have to make all of these changes all at once! Plus, if you take on too much, you’ll feel more like throwing in the towel. Make one change at a time, and you’ll be able to better focus on a healthier lifestyle.
We hope these healthy eating habits help you crush your goals in the summer!
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