Combine your exercise regime with basic nutritional knowledge and you could achieve your fitness goals faster than you expected. The right balance of food and exercise can help you in your quest for an enviably toned body – but it requires dedication and long-term commitment.
To improve your nutrition, follow these 8 essential tips.
1. Eat more often
By spacing out your meals to every 2.5 – 3 hours, you will actually help yourself lose weight. Instead of eating 3 large meals a day, divide this into 6 smaller meals. This helps raise your metabolism by giving your body a more regular flow of nutrients, and assists fat-burning in the long run. You’ll also feel less hungry.
2. Don’t skip breakfast
Research has shown that people who miss breakfast find it harder to lose weight. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day: make it your biggest meal to help kick-start your metabolism each morning.
3. Don’t rush meals
After you have finished a meal, it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. Take your time and savour every mouthful. The slower you eat, the fuller you’re going to feel.
4. Eat protein at every meal
Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair and foods with a high protein content make you feel full quicker, and for longer. Include meats like chicken, turkey, low fat mince or any type of fish in your meals to boost your protein intake.
5. Cut your calorie intake
Cut your daily calorie intake by 500 calories a day – the equivalent of about a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps – and you’ll be losing 1 pound a week. Continue for three months, and you’ll have lost almost 1 stone. Simply remove foods from your diet that you don’t need and increase your cardiovascular exercise to burn fat. Start slowly and gradually build up your fitness plan – for instance, try running for 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you find you have more energy, try exercising for longer and at more regular intervals.
6. Eat more complex carbohydrates
Despite what the Atkins diet says, carbohydrates are good. We need them for energy, both in short bursts and over sustained periods of time. Without carbs, bodies may suffer from an inherent energy deficit. Stick to complex carbohydrates which take a long time to digest and have a more prolonged release of energy. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vegetables, wholegrain products and beans.
7. Drink plenty of water
Drinking water helps to aid digestion and the absorption of food. It can also play a major part in weight loss. Since water contains no calories, it can serve as an appetite suppressant and helps the body metabolise stored fat. If you find yourself getting hungry quickly, trying drinking a pint of water to curb your appetite.
8. Try not to eat before bed
Our energy levels plummet when we’re sleeping, so it’s harder for bodies to burn excess calories that are consumed before bed. Save your food for when you’re awake!