Many people dread the thought of eating healthier because they don't know where to start. Coming up with a nutrition plan that's as much about how you eat as what you eat is a good place to begin.
Here are some nutrition tips I've had success with as a trainer. I hope they can help you meet goals and master the food game without all the unnecessary stress.
1. Eat Your Protein First
Whether you're an athlete or someone trying to eat healthier for your own reasons, protein should be your top priority. It is the only nutrient that contains nitrogen, the fourth most abundant element in the body—after oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. Nitrogen is one of the building blocks of amino acids, which help repair muscle tissue.
Protein helps regulate blood sugar levels, which can be crucial if you're trying to lose weight. If you're someone who wants or needs to build muscle, you want to eat your protein first so your body has the maximum protein ready to process and help with recovery from the rigors of training. Eating carbohydrates before your protein can result in getting full too quickly, so you don't consume the protein your muscles need. Watch the video player above for more information on adding protein to your plate.
2. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently
Should you eat the traditional "three square meals a day" or consume smaller meals every two or three hours? Based on my own experience as well as the success of people I've helped, I prefer the latter option, because your body will have nutrients ready to use throughout the entire day, instead of having to wait several hours for calories. Furthermore, big meals can overwhelm your digestive system, leading to extra calories and nutrients being stored as body fat. No one wants that. Check out the video player above to learn more about how to eat smaller meals throughout the day.
3. Don't Tell Yourself What You Can't Eat
This tip should be easy to understand, but let's do a demonstration anyway. If you make a decision right now that you will never eat McDonald's again, your first thought immediately thereafter will probably have something to do with a Happy Meal or a Big Mac.
Strong willpower is great—if it works. I suggest allowing yourself a "cheat meal" once a week or so, to keep you from eating something you shouldn't throughout the rest of the week, feeling regret and getting caught in a spiral of negativity. Just make sure to follow the first two tips: include a protein source first and don't eat a huge serving of whatever you pick to treat yourself.
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