Trying to eat healthier, but not sure where to start?
Here are 5 simple tips to get you started on the right track. These healthy hacks are going to help keep you feeling fuller longer, balance your blood sugars better, and boost your metabolism!
1. Eat More… Not Less
One of the biggest mistakes when changing your nutrition plan is removing food first. Instead of removing the treats first, focus on adding healthy foods to your diet. Find healthy options so that you can get more fresh fruits, veggies, and lean protein into your diet.
Also, I feel that there is no need to obsess over counting calories. All calories are not the same, nor are they metabolized in the body in the same way. 300 calories of cake is not the same as 300 calories of kale. Instead of focusing on calorie counting, calculate your macronutrient goals, or macros, and plan meals around this rather than the total number of calories to reach your goals.
That being said, of course, you want to stay within your caloric ballpark, as going over daily overtime will likely lead to weight gain. I don’t know about you, but my caloric needs aren’t the same every day. If I have a heavy-lifting day, I’ll try to eat more protein and carbs. While on rest days cut the carbs like passing on the ice cream… or at least try to. But your body needs food to run, food from healthy nutrition. Eat more calories from whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and heart-healthy fats.
2. Never Eat Naked Carbs
Try to limit eating your carbohydrates alone. What I mean is dress them up with some protein, fiber, and healthy fats. So if you’re going to have a bagel, choose to eat it with some almond butter (protein) and berries (fiber). Eating protein and fiber with your carbs allows them to be digested much slower. Which really means less intense spikes in your blood sugar. Having balanced blood sugar levels is key to a healthy metabolic system. High spikes of blood sugar and insulin all day promote more fat storage and eventually can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, and more!
3. Have a Healthy Breakfast
The traditional American breakfast is loaded with hidden sugars. But the worst part is that we tend to eat naked carbs in the morning and wash it down with juice- or liquid sugar. Muffins, toast, croissants, bagels, cereal, and even many granola bars are high in sugar. Having carbs first thing in the morning without protein and fiber means sugar is being rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. Not only does this promote more fat storage, but it also will cause a sugar crash mid-morning.
Instead, choose complex carbs that are slower digesting and pair with fiber and protein. Have oatmeal, but not from an instant packet loaded with sugar. Sweeten oats yourself with honey, cinnamon, and fruit. Add in blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries for fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
A balanced breakfast of protein, fiber, and healthy fats will help regulate blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy without the crash.
4. Fill Up on Fiber
We already know fiber slows down digestion, which is great for balancing blood sugar levels. But fiber plays another important role in your health. Fiber helps feed your gut microbiome. Your gut is lined with trillions of microorganisms that help break down and absorb nutrients from food. These organisms act like gatekeepers between your intestine and your bloodstream. Therefore, you want strong well-functioning soldiers lining your gut to block foreign invaders. This means you must feed them healthy nutrients to keep them in top shape.
Poor diet, alcohol, high stress, and other things can damage your gut organisms, allowing toxins to invade your body easily. Having an impaired gut microbiome can lead to diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, certain cancers, and more. Eating a diet rich in diverse sources of fiber feeds your good gut bacteria, strengthening your protective barrier and reducing the risk of disease.
5. High Protein Snacks
Protein is essential for building muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. Eating more protein throughout your day helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer and reduces cravings.
However, it can be challenging to reach your daily protein goals, as many of us don’t come close to our recommended protein intake. So to help you reach your protein goals, here are some high-protein snacks: apple slices and almond butter, greek yogurt & berries, veggies & hummus, hard-boiled eggs, tuna/chicken salad, and whole grain crackers.
Stay well hydrated! Typically, when we are dehydrated, our brain will signal that we’re thirsty. The problem is that the same area of the brain that signals thirst also signals hunger. This means sometimes we can misinterpret these signals for being hungry when we really just need some water. If you think you’re hungry and want to snack, you may just be thirsty, but if your stomach is rumbling you probably need food. If you aren’t sure if you’re just thirsty, drink a glass of water and see if it helps the cravings before grabbing the snacks.
Incorporating these easy tips into your nutrition plan will help boost your metabolism, store less fat, and strengthen your gut microbiome for optimal health. Just be sure to manage your portion sizes appropriately as well. If you need help determining your portion sizes, check out: How Do You Know Your Portion Size?
Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health conditions without consulting your healthcare provider. Information used is based on experience and opinion, not 100% evidence. Always consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website. Some links in this article may contain affiliate links.