Let’s face it – we’ve all resolved to have abs of steel, fit into a certain dress size, become fitter, crush the Flywheel torqboard, or shine at the front of a barre class in 2016, but how do you get there? The most commonly repeated, widely believed precepts to a healthier and fitter you are limiting your calorie intake, eating lean meat and steamed vegetables, cutting out carbs, eating low fat, increasing your cardio, and doing your crunches and sit-ups. But if any of you have tried this lifestyle, you’ll know that it is in no way sustainable. Lack of energy, lack of satisfaction, and the needless elimination of essential nutrients mean that most people will crack eventually. What you need to do is eat clean and train hard.
Read on for ten easy tips to help you make this transition.
More and more people are realizing that our world is becoming increasingly toxic, as the incidences of cancer and autoimmune diseases rise rapidly. The refined sugars and additives that have made their way into our foods – usually disguised and hidden under substitute names – contribute to bulging waistlines and more importantly to increasing levels of toxicity. Changing your lifestyle is therefore not only going to help you reach your goals, but it’s also going to help shield you from unnecessary exposure to toxins.
Cut out processed foods.
The easiest way to do this is to try to only eat things you have made yourself. If you’re invited to a friend’s house or to a restaurant, always opt for the least complex item on the menu.
Cut out white flour completely.
That means opting out of eating deep-fried foods when you’re out (these are usually coated in batter, which contains a lot of white flour) and replacing all your recipes that include white flour with either whole-grain flour, quinoa flour, coconut flour, or brown-rice flour, which is particularly good if you suffer from gluten sensitivity. White flour is one of the biggest culprits in the storage of stubborn fat. Try brown-rice pasta for a healthier take on the pantry staple.
Cut out refined sugars and minimize salt.
Yes, that means brown sugar too! All sugar is highly processed, which means your body is going to have a hard time breaking it down and using it for anything positive. Instead, opt to sweeten with pure raw honey, pure maple syrup, dates, applesauce, or pure molasses. Again, moderation is extremely important here if you’re trying to get the abs you’ve always wanted.
You read that correctly. People are often scared of fatty foods, but good fat burns fat. If you limit your fat intake, you won’t burn fat; it’s that simple. Cut out escalopes and nachos, but add in lots of salmon, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Good fats should represent about 20 to 30 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Up your lean-protein intake and minimize red meat.
Lean protein should constitute about 20 percent of your diet. Good sources of protein are chicken breast, white fish, salmon, tuna, beans, eggs, chia seeds, spinach, and lentils.
Control your portions.
Spread out your meals throughout the day in nutritionally dense portions, but don’t focus so much on the math. Focus on the quality of your food, the variety in natural colors you consume, and avoid all processed options.
Choose complex carbs.
The remaining 50 percent of your diet should be made up of complex carbohydrates (for instance more vegetables, quinoa, sweet potato, and brown rice.). Complex carbs will do wonders for your body and will help you feel satisfied. White pasta, cereal, rice, and bread are full of sugar and cannot be processed by your body. You can now find countless healthier options around town, such as quinoa pasta and brown rice, which will give you the same satisfaction without the sugar.
Drink more water.
Aim for about one and a half to three litres of water a day, depending on your activity level. Add a few slices of cucumber, ginger, lemon, or lime with some berries and mint for added flavor. This is a great way to stay hydrated and get some extra nutrients to help cleanse and revitalize your body.
Allow yourself one day off.
Believe it or not, this will help you maintain a healthy balance and curb binge eating on other days. If you know the day is coming (the weekend is usually a good time to do this as you’ll most likely be eating out), you can save the temptation for then and enjoy the dessert or pizza you’ve been craving without feeling guilty about it.