When it comes to getting fit and keeping lean, don’t let anyone convince you that a week of grueling workouts is your ticket to a drive-thru diet.
It doesn’t work that way. The fuel you put into your body will determine how effective your workout is.
And while we all deserve an occasional splurge, no amount of exercise compensates for unhealthy eating.
There’s no escaping it: diet and exercise go hand in hand. And just like you’ve learned to make exercise a habit, you can make healthy eating a habit, too, if you follow a few simple rules:
- Focus on whole foods, not fake foods. Ditch the food with the labels. Go fresh and go organic whenever possible. If you can’t go label-free, be sure you can pronounce just about every ingredient on the label before you put the food in your basket.
- Get at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. It’s easier than you realize – think almonds, lentils, spinach and whole grain bran flakes. Fiber helps you manage your weight, keeps you regular, reduces your odds of getting diabetes and heart disease, and helps lower cholesterol.
- Eat lean proteins – fish, organic chicken and organic turkey, ideally hormone and antibiotic free. In addition to helping build lean muscle mass, protein helps you feel full, keeping hunger at bay.
- Keep your fruit to one to two servings a day. You can’t eat endless fruit – there’s too much sugar, particularly in fruits like bananas, mangoes and pineapple. One apple or one banana alone can add up to 20 grams of sugar. Shoot for nutrient-rich berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – just a handful will do.
- Shop organic. You may spend more at the grocery, but your risk for exposure to pesticides reduces dramatically when you buy organic – particularly certain fruits and vegetables.
You can’t out-exercise poor nutrition. For all the effort you’re putting into the gym, you owe it to yourself to maintain a healthy diet. How do you maintain yours?
– Ellen Latham