As a personal trainer in Moorestown, NJ, and doing personal training in Mount Laurel, NJ, and as a nutrition consultant in Voorhees, NJ, and Lumberton, NJ, I’m often asked by my clients what they should eat. My initial answer is always the same. I can easily tell them what they should not eat, but what they should eat is not so simple. Start by eliminating sugar, salt, bleached flour, fried foods, candy, cookies & cake, and try to avoid anything that comes in a box. Eating at home is always a better option than eating out.
That’s the quick and easy answer, but the one caveat is that you should enjoy yourself on special occasions as long as you get back on track quickly. One or two wayward meals will not cause the universe to crumble, and you shouldn’t feel that you’re depriving yourself or you won’t maintain a healthy diet.
It’s important to allow personal and cultural preferences in a client’s diet, but there are also rules that apply across all cultures. The primary problems with the Standard American Diet (SAD!) are:
1. We eat 3-4 times more protein than we need.
2. We don’t eat enough fiber.
3. Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
4. Our portion sizes are too big, and we eat too much at once.
5. We eat too high a percentage of our caloric requirements at night.
Let’s take a closer look…
Protein – A healthy diet will have a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of approximately 2:1.
Studies have shown a low-carbohydrate diet to be better for weight loss, but they compared their diets to a carb: protein ratio of 4:1 and 3:1, not 2:1, which is a much better ratio for healthy eating. Most people are unaware that almost all foods contain some amount of protein, including vegetables. Animal proteins come with a large number of fats, including saturated fats. If you’re interested in losing weight and having a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, you want to minimize the amount of saturated fat you consume.
Fiber – The functions of fiber include slowing down your digestive process so that you absorb more nutrients from the food that you eat. Fiber also helps to clean out your digestive system of loose lipids, partially digested foods, and any toxins that may be present. These are very important functions, and as an added bonus, fiber will help you to eliminate them more easily.
Fruits/Vegetables – Both have vitamins and minerals essential to your health and wellbeing. Fruits help to hydrate your body, where vegetables provide essential fiber. Vegetables also are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which will provide a steady release of energy throughout the day, minimize cravings, and balance your insulin levels. Eat uncooked and unseasoned fruits and vegetables as much as possible. When cooked, they tend to lose their nutrient content through dilution and due to chemical reactions activated by heat.
Portion control – If you eat three well-balanced meals a day, both in terms of caloric intake and nutrition value, and then fill in with two healthy snacks a day, this will go a long way to providing you with adequate calories, nourishment, and energy for your required metabolic functions and daily activities. Following this routine should allow you to be free from cravings and reduce your daily food consumption because you won’t put yourself into a nutrition deficit, where your body will look to catch up and cause you to eat more than you should later in the day.
Eating at night – Binge eating at night is mostly the result of poor eating habits beginning with skipping breakfast, which results in a caloric deficit that’s filled in part by the consumption of up to 10% more fat intake than people who start the day with a good breakfast, and binge eating in the evening. An international study says that late-night snacking and a high-fat diet throughout the day leads to poor sleep at night. According to researchers at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, positive and statistically significant correlations were found between total energy intake, late-night snacking, and repeated awakenings during sleep. If you balance your caloric intake during the day and don’t eat too much at any one time, you will have a much higher energy level during the day, you will sleep better at night, and you will eat up to 10% less fat. All of which will reduce your stress level and your body fat percentage.
Bear in mind that the foods you eat and how you consume them will not only affect your daily energy level, how much fat you’ll store for future use, and your general health but also affect your mood and mental capabilities. Eat a well-rounded diet for optimum physical health and function, emotional wellbeing, and mental clarity.
You will also find and maintain your natural weight by listening to your body and feeding it a balanced diet at the macro (carbs/protein/fat) and micronutrient level (vitamins/minerals). Learn to listen to your body, differentiate between thirst and hunger, eat a good percentage of complex carbohydrates, and stop eating when full.
Always keep in mind that how well you eat has a big influence on achieving your fitness goals, whatever they may be. You need to eat a certain way to gain muscle, eat lean to be lean, and eat a well-balanced, nutritionally sound diet for good health. The timing of your meals is also important. Start every day off with a good breakfast so that you can have a great day! If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Moorestown or Mount Laurel, NJ, or anywhere else in southern Burlington county, use the contact form available on this website to contact me for a free consultation.