How To Improve Your Diet Right Now (it’s not just eating salad)

How To Improve Your Diet Right Now (it’s not just eating salad)

14 Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Diet

Ways to Improve Your Diet

It’s almost the new year, so you’ll start seeing a lot of commercials for dieting and ways to improve your health.  Although eating more “greens” is a step in the right direction, there’s a lot of things you can do to help improve your diet.  Whether you want to enhance your nutritional practices for health reasons, weight loss purposes or as a personal goal, there are many ways to sensibly accomplish your goal.  Following are a few of my favorite.

If you’re training for a race, you’re going to have to fuel properly.  Each of the following recommendations will help.

1. Avoid Drinking Your Calories
Take time to evaluate the number of calories you are drinking in a single sitting. Some drinks contain as many as 150 calories in a single serving. Multiply that by three, and it’s easy to consume one-third of your calories for the day by way of beverage.

2. Increase Your Fruit Intake
Fruit is an excellent way to boost your fiber intake, protect your immunity, and get a pretty steady dose of antioxidants.

3. Increase Your Vegetable Intake
Get your veggies every day. Vegetables are a wonderful source of calcium, fiber, and antioxidants and can protect you from multiple diseases and illness.

4. Bake It or Grill It. Don’t Fry It
Stay away from those fried foods as much as possible. They may be tasty but are not suitable for your diet or body. Baked or grilled foods tend to carry less fat which is good for the heart.

5. Make a Grocery List
Make a grocery list before you visit the grocery store. Drafting a grocery list will save you from buying unnecessary foods or beverages.

6. Skip Deprivation of Foods
A healthy diet should not equate to deprivation. Allow yourself to indulge in the foods or meals you like from time to time. This action will enable you to avoid binge eating or experiences feelings of guilt.

7. Limit Processed Foods
This is tough, but is one of the best ways to improve your diet. So many processed foods such as cookies, chips, cereals, anything in a wrapper, sodas and especially candy can adversely affect your long term health. Processed foods contain a large amount of sugar, chemicals, high-fructose corn syrup and most important, they hold a large number of “empty” calories, salt and fat. The bottomline is that the combination of ingredients in processed foods, if consumed regularly, have been proven to increase the odds that you’ll suffer from heart disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke.

8. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Your digestive tract loves fiber. Fiber supports the efficient movement of material through your system. Fiber also helps your stomach to feel full after meals and has proven to be useful in promoting weight loss.

9. Eating Enough Calcium
Calcium is necessary for bone health, heart health and muscle function. Make sure you eat a diet that contains low-fat dairy and green leafy vegetables.

10. Drink Plenty of Water
Water assists with digestion and can support weight loss efforts. Obviously water has no calories and consuming it regularly ensures proper hydration.
As a runner, I like to think of water as the highway for the calories/energy to get to your muscles. Without getting too complex about the role water plays for runners, just remember that it’s absolutely essential to drink plenty of water before & after your workouts. If you’re running for 1+ hour or it’s really hot and/or outside, then it’s not essential to drink during your run (although I leave it up to people to gauge their own thirst)

11. Go Vegan for One Day
There’s countless studies about the value of a vegan diet. I think the key to this diet is ensuring you consume sufficient protein. In fact, the best rule with any diet is keep your diet balanced. Go vegan for a day! This decision will not only help to boost your veggie intake, but it will add variety to your diet.

12. Enjoy Your Morning Coffee
I’m totally on-board with this one. I love coffee.  Numerous studies contradict each other regarding whether or not coffee is good for you. Other research shows that coffee provides stimulation for the mind, promotes heart health and boosts your metabolism.

13. Track Your Meals
I think this habit of tracking your meals, can help you to subconsciously get your arms around the foods you are eating and promote a healthier approach.

14. Eat Fish!
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which are a complete plus for the brain and your body. Cold water fish are a great source of healthy fats. Salmon is my favorite, but Tuna Steaks a good alternative. Omega-3s help to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability of its contents or any omissions.

Guest Blog: Running Myth- Good Running Nutrition is Complicated and Expensive

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See below for Kelly’s “Long Run Sandwich Bites” Recipe.

For every nutrition question you have, there are at least ten expensive nutrition products on the market that claim to have the answer.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed.  Luckily, good running nutrition can be broken down into a few simple principles.

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Thumbs up for good nutrition! Guest Blogger Kelly Egan breaks down nutrition basics for runners.

Carbs vs. Other Nutrients

Based on body weight, a typical athletic diet should be about 60 percent carbs, 15 percent protein and 25 percent fat.  To get ready for a race, “carbo load” by bumping up your carbohydrate intake for three to four days before the event.   Keep a food and workout diary if you make any changes to your diet to help you figure out what works for you.

Supplements

Many runners have questions about supplements – which to take, how many, at what times, etc.  Skip those expensive pills and powders and spend your money on fresh fruits and vegetables instead.  A varied diet will provide all the vitamins and essential nutrients that your body needs. Plus, your body is able to absorb nutrients better from food than pills.  Fun fact: Consuming beets, a source of nitrate, has been shown to increase athletic performance!

Protein and Muscle Recovery

There is a belief that high amounts of protein, especially protein powders, improve muscle growth.  A benefit to this has not been shown – excess protein is simply converted into energy – or fat.  Save your money!  Immediately after your run, enjoy an ice-cold glass of low-fat chocolate milk!  It has a 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio and has been proven to help the recovery process.  For an added benefit, have another glass two hours later – ideally with a healthy, balanced meal.

In Summary:

  • A basic running diet should have roughly 60 percent carbs, 15 percent protein and 25 percent fat – but listen to your body. Consult with a dietitian or nutritionist for best results.
  • Keep a diet and workout log to help you figure out what works best for you.
  • Increase your carbohydrate intake for 3-4 days before a race.
  • Instead of focusing on supplements, eat a balanced diet instead.
  • For a natural performance boost, eat beets!
  • Chocolate milk is an effective and cheap recovery drink.

 

In addition to this brief intro to running nutrition, I’d like to share an easy and nutritious snack to try during long runs.  I came up with this idea after getting sick of bad-tasting gels and energy bars with a long list of ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce.

Long Run Sandwich Bites

You will need:

  • Bread – you can use whole grain or white, depending on what your stomach tolerates
  • Peanut or other nut butter – I like dark chocolate Yumbutter
  • Jam or honey

Combine all of your ingredients to make a sandwich.

  1. Use a knife or mini cookie cutter to cut your sandwich into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Pack a handful in a small sandwich baggie to take along on your long runs.
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Pack these little guys with you on your next long run for on-the-go, inexpensive fuel.

 

running myth on nutrition, running nutrition myth busted, nutrition myths for runners, nutrients for runners needsKelly Egan is a guest blogger for Brooks, as well as a member of our Inspire Daily program. Look for more posts from her on running myths in the coming months. Kelly is a fourth year medical student in Madison, Wis.  This year, she plans to volunteer in India, graduate from school, get married, honeymoon in Morocco, move across the country and get her first job – in that order.  To follow her adventures, please visit runningblonde.com.