One of the most important aspects to maintaining our health and well-being is a healthy diet. Fitness and exercise play their roles in giving us more energy, but so does what you put in your body. Whether you just want to start living a cleaner life, get a little more energy to get through the day, or boost your metabolism to lose weight, what you eat can have a huge impact on your goals.
These 10 simple changes you can make will not only help you look and feel better, but can also help you slim down.
1. Drink more water
You’ve heard it before, and will hear it again. Water is essential to keeping us hydrated, improving skin quality and cleansing our bodies. Water is especially important if you are working out, as it will keep your muscles hydrated and healthy.
Jackie Warner, a fitness expert and star, recommends drinking three liters of water with lemon every day.
“Adding the lemon helps to detoxify the liver and metabolizes fat, so this can speed up metabolism by about 33 percent,” she says. “That burns about 100 extra calories per day!”
2. Consume more daily protein
Protein is essential for your health and wellness. Some people think it’s only important if you’re a bodybuilder, but even if you don’t work out protein is necessary for building and repairing your cells and muscles.
On average, a man needs about 56 grams of protein every day. A woman needs about 46 grams of protein. Whether its meat, eggs or beans, you should eat protein with every meal, according to Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Weight Loss Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain-Free Body.
Eating a protein-rich snack, or enjoying a protein shake, during the day can help stop cravings and keep you full longer.
3. Don’t forget the greens
Losing weight can be as easy as eating more salad. Celebrity yoga instructor Mandy Ingber suggests skipping the carbs or fast-food lunch and having a salad instead.
“Replace your lunchtime meal with a large salad loaded with healthy greens,” she says. “If you are a meat-eater, add some lean protein. Load your salad with avocado, nuts, and all sorts of veggies that add color to your meal.”
4. Try the 250:250 rule
You may not have heard of the 250:250 rule, but it’s a great way to prep your body for weight loss and fitness. This will help you cut some calories by eating less, and burn more calories without getting into any strenuous fitness regime you aren’t quite ready for.
How it works: Eat 250 fewer calories each day, like halving your usual bread serving. Burn 250 more calories per day, whether its 45 minutes on an elliptical or going for a 60 minute, moderate-speed walk. This will create a 500-calorie deficit so you’re burning more calories than you’re eating.
If you do this every day for a week, you’re looking at a 3,500-calorie deficit, which is equal to one pound of weight lost. After about a month of this, your body will be ready for more intense weight loss which can include a calorie-reduced/healthy diet, exercise and supplements.
5. Take multi-vitamins
Let’s face it, we lead busy lives and can’t always consume the amount of vitamins and nutrients our body needs.
We tend to take the “more is better” approach when it comes to vitamins, but that isn’t the case. The amount of vitamins we need varies, depending on gender, age, and weight, taking a multi-vitamin daily can help supplement what we’re lacking.
Just make sure you’re choosing a multi-vitamin that won’t conflict with any allergies or pre-existing medical conditions so you won’t have to worry about harmful side-effects.
6. Ditch the sugar
Sugar is little more than unwanted and unnecessary calories. While you may watch what sugar you put in foods, do you think about the sugar you’re drinking?
It’s best to ditch all the sugar, including those drinks we tend to forget about, according to Fred DeVito who helped create the Exhale: Core Fusion DVD series.
“Eliminate sugary drinks and diet soda, which can trigger your craving for sweets,” he says. “These beverages are loaded with unwanted calories.”
Simply cutting out the soda and sugary drinks can have a huge benefit on your energy and your waistline.
7. Go Greek
Most of us know that yogurt can be a healthy snack. It’s full of protein, nutrients like calcium and vitamin B12 and probiotics. But you shouldn’t go grabbing just any yogurt off the shelf. Many yogurts, even those low-fat ones, are full of sugar.
John Dull and Michele Collier, creators of the Supreme 90 Day system say that Greek yogurt is a better choice.
“A better choice is Greek-style yogurt,” they say. “They have more protein per serving and very little sugar. Try adding fresh fruit for an added treat!”
8. Give your metabolism a kick-start
When you need a little help getting your weight-loss started, try a natural supplement. It can help boost the metabolism and give you the energy you need to start getting more active.
It’s especially beneficial for someone with a large amount of weight to lose, and taken with a proper diet and exercise can help contribute to healthy weight loss.
Make sure you’re using a product from a reputable company that offers safe, natural ingredients.
9. Get a boost from juice
We’re not talking Tropicana or Minute Maid here. We mean fresh vegetable juice. Tara Stiles, founder of Strala yoga studio – who just happens to be the personal yoga instructor for Deepak Chopra, who wrote Slim Calm Sexy Yoga – says juicing is one of the best things she’s ever done for her health.
“Cucumber, kale, carrot, ginger…it is so good for you, gives you so much energy, and actually tastes good!” Stiles says. “The coolest side effect is that I stopped craving sugar and salts! Just like that, without trying. Amazing!”
10. Tone up and build muscle
You didn’t think we would leave exercise off the list, did you? Exercise is vital to our mental and physical well-being. It’s also the best way to keep off extra weight and keep our metabolism at its best. By keeping toned and building muscle, you’ll continue burning calories before they are stored as fat.
Try to exercise each muscle group two or three days a week. Don’t do the same workout every day or your body will stop gaining benefits from it. Light cardio is best if you’re just starting out. For resistance training, use light weights and a higher number of repetitions. Make sure to give your muscles a chance to rest and recover, so give 48 hours between resistance training sessions.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, visit your local gym and speak to a trainer. They can help create a program designed specifically for your needs that targets your problem areas and addresses any health concerns you may have.