This is a guest post by professional trainer Chris Lingham, owner of Impact Performance & Fitness in Voorhees, NJ.
Whenever you hear a person say they are eating clean or going on a diet, we often think of a complete lifestyle 180. However, improving overall health doesn’t require more than one small change at a time. We understand that your life is busy, so small changes will allow you to take care of your health and still leave time for you to be there and support your family. With busy lifestyles we often forget how important taking care of our nutrition and health is and how easy it is to put yourself last.
I will reveal how you can effortlessly obtain optimal health for you and your family by adding certain foods into your household immediately. Learn how to dominate in the kitchen, while at the same time regaining your youth and vitality through healthier food choices. We all want to eat some of the “bad stuff” because it taste better, but using these healthier food choices can also taste amazing. The truth is many of us can become incredible chefs with a few small changes in food selection and a few secrets I will reveal to you in this article.
Let’s get started with proteins. This macronutrient is the key to building and maintaining lean muscle. Protein is essential in life. Each day our body recycles its own protein in order to support cell and immune health, repair connective tissue, and build skeletal muscle. After the age of 40, men and women lose 8% of lean muscle every 10 years. It is crucial to consume adequate levels of protein each day to support overall health and quality of life.
One easy tip is to break your protein into 5 meals each day. By taking in 30-50g of protein at each meal, you are giving your body a chance to break down the protein each time. This will cause you to burn additional calories due to your body constantly being in a digestive state. Additionally, this raises your metabolic rate so that you burn additional calories outside of your workouts.
1. Whole Eggs
2. Lean Meats, Poultry & Game
3. Fatty Fish
4. Parmesan Cheese
Many people are confused about carbs these days. With every health article telling you to either eat them or cut them out, it is almost impossible to know how to handle carbs. The first trick is understanding the different types. Some carbs can cause a rapid release of energy once digested, which results in insulin levels raising, while others are digested slowly, causing a more controlled insulin release which is better when looking to obtain fat loss. Different people have different goals and carbohydrates should be treated the same way when looking for a nutrition plan that can hold up for the long haul.
The carbs that we have listed in this section are all nutrient dense, great tasting foods. We have broken them up into three categories for you. Depending on your goals you can choose more or less from the different categories. Everyone can use more from the fruits and vegetables category every day. Number one priority carbohydrates should be spinach and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts). These veggies pack a powerful punch and can keep your immune system fighting off a ton of illnesses. All berries are another top pick. I use them in shakes to add refreshing flavor, throw them on salads, or snack on them to overcome sugar cravings. Not to mention the anti-inflammatory benefits they have. They keep your body fighting off all the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. These toxins promote free radicals in the blood stream often resulting in sickness and chronic diseases like cancer. As we all know, maintaining quality health is very crucial when supporting a family, so sickness is not an option.
If your goal is to lose a couple of pounds then it is best to keep a lower carbohydrate intake by sticking to more of the vegetables and legumes. They have a lower insulin response and less total carbs per serving. This allows you to control your insulin levels, while forcing the body to utilize stored fat as its main energy source. Carbohydrates are best used after workouts to replenish muscle with much needed glycogen (energy) for recovery.
If you are looking to maintain your weight and get stronger then feel free to explore the different carbs on the list. Quinoa can be used in salads, desserts, or served hot as a side dish and sweet potatoes are delicious all by themselves. These high fiber, protein rich grains can stabilize hunger and fight off heart disease. Additionally, you can find tons of recipes due to their new popularity. This power food is essential for good health.
Fruits & Vegetables
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
13. Sweet Potatoes
15. Brown Rice
Almost every American has become scared of the mere mention of the word fat. The majority of people still believe that if we eat fat we will become fat. The truth is dietary fat plays a huge role in cellular healthy, energy production, and insulation of our body’s organs. That is why it harmful to have an extremely low body fat percentage (under 3%) and will deter you from maintaining optimal health.
If you are an endurance athlete you can benefit most from having more dietary fat in your nutrition program. This allows the body to burn a cleaner energy source for a longer time period, giving you the advantage in cardio workouts or events.
16. Nuts (& Nut Butters)
17. Seeds (Flax, Hemp, Chia)
18. Olive Oil
When trying to achieve good health it is important to phase some negative things out and replace them with better habits. Although most of the soft drinks we take in on a regular basis are tempting, the short term satisfaction is not always worth it in the long run. Most of these things we put into our body can cause damage to our organs, especially the brain, and worst of all cause us to pack on unwanted body fat. These beverages hide all kinds of carbohydrates and sugar that cause the rapid release of insulin. This not only adds inches on the belly, but also puts you dads out there at serious risk for diabetes.
When it comes to your liquid intake keep to the basics. Drink plenty of water and green tea. Add fruit and citrus to water for a refreshing infused water. Realistically, we all want to enjoy our life with an occasional beverage of our choice. Stick to drinking the choices below the majority of the time and you can still take plenty of opportunities to enjoy life’s guilty pleasures.
20. Green Tea
Remember being a “Chill Dad” requires being a healthy dad. You want to guarantee that you are able to do all of the things that your family wants to do and still have the energy to get things done around the house. The media has forced us all to believe that we need to be ripped out of our minds to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In reality, all we truly need to maintain good health and a better physique is some healthier eating habits and 2-3 quality workouts per week.