A well-balanced diet can help get you the calories and nutrients needed to fuel daily activities and enhance overall fitness performance. Eating the right types of food at the right times of day can make all the difference to your healthy eating plan. Learn what a well-balanced diet should consist of and how to start eating healthy.
1. Boost your fruit and vegetable intake
There’s a reason why your parents made sure that all your greens on your plate at the dinner table had to be eaten. Vegetables are a rich source of natural fibre, vitamins, minerals and other compounds that your body requires to function properly. Increasing your intake of veggies and fruit will provide a full range of vitamins and antioxidants to help boost your immune system which is important for maintaining health and well-being.
An easy way to incorporate this into meals is thinking of it as 'eating the rainbow'. Tomatoes, cabbage, spinach and sweet potatoes provide great nutritional value as well as being low in calories. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables will not only help shed the pounds but help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
2. Pre-workout fuel
Fuelling up before a workout is just as important as eating right post workout. The key is to achieve the right balance of carbohydrates and protein so that you are left energised. If you’re in a dash load up on simple snacks such as bananas which are full of potassium and magnesium. This will help replenish minerals and provide natural sugar to help fuel your workout.
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and protein. Paired with carbs such as fresh or dried fruit, this will provide you with enough sustained energy for your workout. For a tasty protein-carb combo, consider trying peanut butter on your fruit or whole-grain bread. Alternatively, almond butter and soy butter is a good protein-rich alternative if you’re not a fan of peanut butter.
3. Post workout-fuel
We’ve mentioned pre-workout snacks, but fuelling up after a workout is just as important in helping aid the recovery period of exercising. For this, protein is needed to help keep your body growing and for repairing muscles, helping you enjoy the benefits of your workout. Protein can come from various sources such as poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.
The key is to choose lean proteins that are low in saturated and trans fats and limit processed meats. Combining this with healthy fats will help provide essential fatty acids and calories to keep you moving. Healthy options include avocado, olives and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds). Give this great post workout meal a go: Superfood Guacamole on Toast. Delicious.
4. Drink Up
Staying hydrated with the correct fluids is just as important as eating the right food. To help prevent dehydration you need to adequate fluids before, during and after exercise. Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluids. Aim to drink between 15 to 20 ounces of water before your workout and another eight ounces every 15 minutes during your workout. Do consider how much you’re sweating and the weather if it’s hot outside. Consider switching to a sports drink to maintain electrolyte balance and provide energy if working out for 60 minutes or longer. Drinking enough water will help boost metabolism, cleanse your body of waste and lead to a drop in those extra pounds as drinking more will help reduce water retention.
5. Portion control
Proper portion size is essential for good health as it prevents over-eating throughout the day and cuts back on the number of calories consumed, helping you stay on track for weight loss goals. Some foods are full of micronutrients which are essential for health, while other foods provide you with energy and calories to keep you functioning. If you consume too much of certain foods, regardless of whether they are healthy or not, your body will store that energy and gain weight. Portion sizes will avoid overwhelming your body with calories. There are different methods to exercise portion control, some include the hand method and label method. While acknowledging which types of food are good for you, an integral part of balanced eating is the amount of food you’re consuming.
6. Balance is key
Listening to your body is vital when settling into an active lifestyle. You will discover which foods give you the most energy and which foods have negative effects. Balance the foods and exercise that feel right for you and most importantly feel good for you. Eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients can help fuel your exercise routine. Stock your fridge and gym bag with healthy workout snacks to keep you motivated as well as choosing complex carbs and a wide variety of fruits and veggies to keep things interesting.