Eat Real Food And Feel Real Good
Apr 11, 2016 10:32AM
By Kait Taylor
They say nutrition is 70 percent of the battle. Or 50 percent. Sometimes I even hear 90 percent.
Whatever the number is, it’s no secret that a determined person can sweat their lives away at the gym, but never achieve the results they want because they can’t get their nutrition in check.
We hear “Go low fat” just to hear “Try low-carb” 10 years later. There’s new information found all the time and marketing companies rule the airwaves trying to get you to buy organic, gluten-free sweet potato chips (they’re still a starch fried in oil). When you have to feed yourself several times a day, it’s no wonder you would experience some anxiety.
As a trainer, I have to eat right to keep my energy up throughout the day. I can’t be feeling sluggish as a result of my poor lunch choices, and the same goes for you. Life is too short for you to operate without the right fuel in your tank, and it won’t make you look pretty, either. You may be eating tons of calories, but if it’s not the right stuff, you’ll actually be malnourished.
I’ll have clients and gym members ask me what protein powder I like to use, and my reply is always the same: “I eat whole foods, and you should, too.” They usually nod, and I thought I was imparting the right wisdom until somebody said, “Listen, Kait, I can’t afford to always shop at Whole Foods.”
So now I describe my go-to nutrition rule as such: If it didn’t walk, swim, fly or grow out of the ground, don’t eat it.
That means, choose foods that are as close to their natural source as possible. The more processed a food becomes, the more you take it from that original state, the less it will do for your body.
Take those organic sweet potato chips and compare it to an actual sweet potato: one provides complex carbohydrates for fuel, fiber for fullness and essential vitamins and minerals. It grew out of the ground. The fried chips, straight out of the bag, are as they say “far from the tree.”
The chips may be a simple analogy, but the same goes for lots of other products that are marketed as healthy. Applesauce is loaded with sugar, and doesn’t provide the same nutrients as an apple. White flour products like pasta, Wonder Bread and even “multigrain” bread have been stripped of the parts that make them good fuel for your body. A better option are steel-cut oats, rice and ancient grains like farro and barley.
Chicken nuggets are made from the rib meat of a chicken, and breaded and fried before you heat them for your kids. Closer to the source is a chicken breast. And as for protein powder? You can get the same benefits from the chicken, a can of tuna or four ounces of grilled salmon. Pair that with green veggies roasted with olive oil and that sweet potato and you’ve got a quick meal with that beats the drive-thru because it’s got the protein, carbohydrates and good fats you need for a healthy body and mind.
Bonus to eating healthy: if you cut the snack-y, packaged stuff with buzzwords like “organic,” “gluten-free,” and “no added sugar,” you will get the best bang for your nutritional and financial buck.
Here are a few other tips to help you along in eating right:
Eat when you’re hungry, and make sure you’re actually HUNGRY, not just thirsty or tired or wanting comfort - there are other solutions for that. When you are tired, your body senses the energy deficit and your hormones go haywire to make you crave carbohydrates. Don’t give in: stay with your plan and hit the pillow early.
Craving sweets mid-afternoon? Drink a glass of water. When you are dehydrated, your body isn’t running at top efficiency, which means the metabolic processes in your body - like digestion and muscle-building - aren’t up to speed like you want them to. Chug chug!
Remember that coffee, teas and other caffeinated drinks, as well as alcohol, are diuretics, which means they will make your even more dehydrated. Drink an extra glass of water for every serving to keep the effect in check.
Now let me make something clear: I believe in cake on your birthday and your grandmother’s special-homemade stuffing on Thanksgiving. But if you follow my rule as a lifestyle, you should feel good about indulging on special occasions. “Indulging” means having a treat, not eating so much you are sick because you “never get to eat that.” ENJOY it. If you eat right, you won’t crave sweets and fried things as often, because your body will be properly fueled and satisfied. It will more sensitive to what you put in your body. Sweets will be too sweet and cream will seem very heavy, so that a little goes a long way for you.
Lose the anxiety and lose the weight. Eat real food and feel real good.
Kait Taylor is a full-time personal trainer at Tewksbury Sports Club with more than a decade of experience working in the fitness industry. To learn more or set up a complimentary fitness consultation, email Kait at firstname.lastname@example.org.