Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities, including regular exercise. When it comes to eating foods to fuel your exercise performance, it’s not as simple as choosing vegetables over doughnuts. You need to get the right types of food at the right times of the day. Learn about the importance of healthy breakfasts, workout snacks, and meal plans.
If you’re like many resolution setters this time of year, you’ve already mapped out a route to your local gym. Maybe you’re planning to pound the treadmills or sweat it out in crowded studio classes. But if your ultimate goal is to drop extra pounds, you might want to ask how far all those miles and squats will really get you. According to a number of weight loss experts, focusing on your nutrition could give you a lot more bang for your buck. “By far, diet outweighs exercise if you want to lose weight,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You have to change your diet to change body composition. You can never out-exercise a bad diet.” So don’t sweat it—at least not quite so much. Here’s where to start with a weight loss resolution.
Even if you've been eating right on track, it may be tough to stay on track if your partner, coworkers, or friends don't share your healthy-eating habits. What to do? If your partner loves pizza, try ordering a pie that's heavy on the veggies and light on the cheese—then supplement it with a side salad. Or, if your friends are having a girls' night out, suggest a restaurant that's got healthy appetizer options, instead of the typical fare of onion rings and cheese dip. And at work, instead of Friday baked-goods day, suggest a Friday "make it healthy" day, and swap in baked pears with cinnamon or mini fruit-and-nut muffins for brownies and blondies.
Is it ladies' night? If you know you'll be imbibing more than one drink, feel (and sip!) right by always ordering water between cocktails, says Newgent. That way, you won't rack up sneaky liquid calories (and ruin your inhibition to resist those mozzarella sticks!). But your H20 doesn't have to be ho-hum. "Make it festive by ordering the sparkling variety with plenty of fruit, like a lime, lemon, and orange wedge in a martini or highball glass," adds Newgent.
Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of cancer-fighting and inflammation-reducing substances like vitamins, polyphenols, antioxidants, minerals and natural fiber. Most men and women do not consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. If you are working to change the way you eat, aim to make manageable changes. Try to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
In the 1960s, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) were found to produce more ketone bodies per unit of energy than normal dietary fats (which are mostly long-chain triglycerides). MCTs are more efficiently absorbed and are rapidly transported to the liver via the hepatic portal system rather than the lymphatic system. The severe carbohydrate restrictions of the classic ketogenic diet made it difficult for parents to produce palatable meals that their children would tolerate. In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher devised a ketogenic diet where about 60% of the calories came from the MCT oil, and this allowed more protein and up to three times as much carbohydrate as the classic ketogenic diet. The oil was mixed with at least twice its volume of skimmed milk, chilled, and sipped during the meal or incorporated into food. He tested it on 12 children and adolescents with intractable seizures. Most children improved in both seizure control and alertness, results that were similar to the classic ketogenic diet. Gastrointestinal upset was a problem, which led one patient to abandon the diet, but meals were easier to prepare and better accepted by the children. The MCT diet replaced the classic ketogenic diet in many hospitals, though some devised diets that were a combination of the two.
One morning, by way of The Dr. Oz Show, I discovered Shaun T, fitness trainer and creator of INSANITY workout (of infomercial fame). His program intrigued me, but what really kept my attention was the way he harped on nutrition. Most exercise programs promise extreme results just by going through the motions. But he was adamant that great results can only be achieved by also overhauling your eating habits. Since exercising like a maniac had scarcely made a dent in my dimples, I decided to give his way a shot. Sayonara, fried and processed food. I was in for a nutritional overhaul.
“So, what should you eat? It’s true that low-carb diets tend to be the most popular because they offer the fastest results, but they can be difficult to sustain. I recommend striving for a more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass). For a healthy daily calorie count, allow 10 calories per pound of body weight — so a 150-pound woman should shoot for a 1,500-calorie target. That way, you should be able to lose weight no matter how much you exercise.”
This high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb fad diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, in which the body uses stored fat for energy. Research published in Clinical Cardiology suggests the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet can be an effective weight loss method, but to be successful, you must follow the plan consistently with no cheat days — otherwise, you’re just eating a high-fat diet that may be high in unhealthy fats for no reason. (1) (A pro tip? If you're planning on doing the diet, consider perusing this complete keto food list and reading up on the healthiest fats for keto diet followers.)
The FDA and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations require that ingredients be listed in order of their predominance in a food. This means that the ingredient used in the highest amounts will be listed first. This poses a problem when a perceived unhealthy ingredient was the predominant ingredient. For example, when people see sugar as the first ingredient in a cereal, they may be more likely to consider it unhealthy. The way that food manufacturers have gotten around this is to use different sources of sugar in smaller quantities. For example, a food containing 1 cup of sugar may have to have the sugar listed as the first ingredient, but smaller amounts of different sources of sugar could be listed throughout the ingredients.
The Atkins 20® diet is split into four phases. You’ll begin in Phase 1, consuming the smallest amount of net carbs. As you move through Phases 2 and 3, we’ll keep you on track by gradually balancing and expanding your list of acceptable foods. By Phase 4, you’ll be able to eat at your maximum net carb level while maintaining your weight and lifestyle.
Lots of apps and websites offer keto diet challenges—basically, a blueprint for the keto diet with a fixed starting and ending point (they typically last for a week to a month, though some may be longer). Speaking of apps, plenty of keto-centric ones are right at your fingertips (a.k.a., your smartphone), like the KetoDiet app, which can help you calculate your macros and track your keto diet effectively.
Along with these fatty acids, there are also trans fats and cholesterol in your diet. Trans fat can be found in some margarines, vegetable shortenings, cookies, crackers, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods.
The Keto diet emphasizes weight loss through fat-burning. The goal is to quickly lose weight and ultimately feel fuller with fewer cravings, while boosting your mood, mental focus and energy. According to Keto proponents, by slashing the carbs you consume and instead filling up on fats, you safely enter a state of ketosis. That’s when the body breaks down both dietary and stored body fat into substances called ketones. Your fat-burning system now relies mainly on fat – instead of sugar – for energy. While similar in some ways to familiar low-carb diets, the Keto diet’s extreme carb restrictions – about 20 net carbs a day or less, depending on the version – and the deliberate shift into ketosis are what set this increasingly popular diet apart.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.
Experts now believe choices about our diet account for the vast majority of prostate cancer cases. It’s important to evaluate diet choices when it comes to risk of prostate cancer. Scientists have slowly uncovered a list of cancer super foods and supplements to optimize in your diet while also discovering foods and supplements that could actually contribute to cancer risk and aggression.
Vitamin B12: Like folate, vitamin B12 is needed for producing and maintaining new cells. It is also needed to maintain the sheaths that surround and protect nerve fibers. An inadequate amount of B12 causes pernicious anemia. Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. An excess intake of folate can mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency, so it's important to have your levels checked by a blood test, especially if you consume a vegetarian diet. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products like trout, salmon, beef, and dairy foods. There are fortified cereals that provide B12 as well. Doctors do not routinely check vitamin B12 levels.
The most important thing to read on the food label is the very first line. The serving size that is listed is what all of the rest of the information is based upon. For example, if you were looking at a label for cookies and the serving size was two cookies, all of the nutrition information on the label would be based on the consumption of two cookies. When you consume more than two cookies, you need to increase the numbers based on how many servings you consume. For example, if there are 100 calories in two cookies, and you consume six cookies, you would be consuming 300 calories.