Some people want to lose weight. Some want to gain muscle mass. Others want to improve their athletic abilities.
In any case, improving your fitness requires not just working hard, but also eating right. You need the right number of calories to fuel your performance or promote weight loss, the right macros to give your body the nutritional building blocks it needs, and of course, a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables so you get all those important micronutrients.
But whether you're a seasoned athlete or a fitness novice, eating right is easier said than done. But why is this the case? And what can you do about it? Let's go over five big factors that can prevent you from eating right and how you can overcome these challenges.
Nutrition is a vast, complicated subject. Variables like calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, specific ingredients and meal timing can all influence your body, so learning them all at once can be intimidating, and staring at a nutrition label can make you feel like it's an impossible subject to master. But amidst this avalanche of information, you need to know that just a bit of basic nutrition knowledge can drastically alter how you view food. Fortunately, there are resources that can help you learn the basics of nutrition. The seven simple rules found within this article are more than enough to set you on the right path.
Eating healthy can often take more time than relying on prepackaged or processed foods. However, a little bit of effort can go a long way. These 10 dinners that take less than 10 minutes to prepare are a great starting point, as are these five snacks you can make in just a few minutes. It's also important to remember that just because a food is packaged doesn't mean it's bad. Keeping some frozen veggies on hand is a great way to instantly upgrade the nutrition of any meal. Meal delivery services can also be a great option if you can fit them in your budget.
When someone brings in donuts for breakfast at the office, or when your mom makes your favorite dessert for dinner, it's really hard to resist temptation—no matter how committed you are to your weight loss plan. Occasional indulgences are fine, but temptation is never far. But something as simple as taking a walk, downing a glass of water or brushing your teeth when temptation is near can help you resist those guilty pleasures—or at least cut down on your serving size.
A bag of apples costs more than a bag of chips, so it's tempting to assume that eating healthy is significantly more expensive than eating unhealthy—but that's not necessarily true. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that the healthiest diets set you back just an extra $1.50 a day compared to the most unhealthy diets. If you're really tight on money, consider implementing some of these three muscle-building meals that cost under $3 a piece.
The single-most important factor when it comes to nutrition is adherence. Eating right for a few days before reverting to old habits makes very little difference in the long run. To improve your chances of adhering to good nutrition habits, you should not take on a diet that is ultra restrictive and prohibitive of all your favorite foods. The odds of you sticking with that diet in the long run are essentially zero. A better approach is to look for ways to improve your existing diet by preparing foods in a healthier manner or incorporating healthier ingredients. This is how a number of professional athletes who used to be addicted to junk food have managed to overhaul their diets and make good nutrition work for them. Most people don't dig kale. but almost everyone likes wings, fried rice and pudding. Guess what? There are ways to make those foods much more nutritious. If you like what you eat, your odds of adhering to good dietary habits over the long haul vastly improve.
Gradually changing your diet as opposed to trying to do a complete 180 in every facet of your nutrition is also a good idea. This strategy can be summed up as taking baby steps. Changing your eating regimen gradually, rather than all at once, can help your mind and body adapt to the new demands and restrictions you're placing on them. You'll have more time to get used to your new routine, and you'll be less exposed to some of the risks and moments of adversity that might otherwise slow you down.
No matter what, if you're committed to eating better, it's entirely within your power to do it. Knowing the areas that might trip you up and how you can overcome them gives you a leg up during your road to better nutrition.
Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock
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