Getting Fitness Results with Balanced Meals
Understanding nutrition fitness wise has been a journey for me. For a long time I wouldn’t understand what to eat to get the results I really wanted. I obviously knew I had to eat healthy, but healthy wasn't really enough. If you really want to build muscle, you have to eat the right combination of nutrients. Not only the right combination but also not eating more fats or carbs than you really need to. FAT turns into fat, so if we eat more fats than we need to, even if they are healthy fats, they’ll turn into fat… GO FIGURE.
Just a little bit of background about my personal experience, I used to be one of those people with an amazing metabolism, eating whatever I wanted and not gaining weight. College for me was a really unhealthy time, all our eating options were fast food. When I found out I was gluten intolerant, I slowly started making small changes in my lifestyle. This was not easy after being so careless about what I ate because I knew I wouldn’t gain weight. Of course not everything lasts forever, my metabolism has changed and now I do have to watch what I eat. I started making changes like cooking at home instead of eating out. This is KEY. I think that eating at home is always the best option. If you live by yourself, you buy only what you need and you DON’T buy unhealthy things that you know you’re going to be tempted on later when those cravings come around. For me it’s harder since I live with other people and not everyone has the same healthy mindset as me, so no matter how hard you try , there’s always going to be unhealthy food around. You just have to learn how to control yourself and learn to love healthy food.
Basically, I went from pretty unealthy to extremely healthy. Sometimes we need bad things in life to happen to make us realize we need to make a lifestyle change, I'm not happy I'm gluten intolerant (sometimes I'd like to have some real pizza =)) but I'm happy that I now live a lifestyle that will last forever.
When I started getting into fitness I wouldn’t understand what I needed to eat to get real results. I started doing a lof of research and the word MACROS popped up everywhere. Understanding macros for me was a GAME CHANGER. Unless you’re a nutritionist, how in the world would you honestly understand macros? Macros or macronutrients are what your diet consists of…Protein, fats and carbs. Like I mentioned before, it’s important to not go overboard in any of these. How do you know you’re going overboard? What has helped me a lot has been the app My Fitness Pal. Here you can record your food diaries, and put the macro percentages you want. The percentages depend on your goals, body weight, height etc… I’m not a professional in the topic, but I always recommend having a higher carb percentage. Again these percentages really depend on your goals.
What I started doing was trying certain percentages and seeing if they worked for a few weeks, and if they didn’t I would alter them. I think the 40(carbs)-30(fats)-30(protein) rule is a pretty standard way to start (or so I’ve read). Some people are against high fat diets, so you can also try doing 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fats. Trial and error is the way to go, see what works for you. You can do more fats than carbs or more protein, this depends on your body and how much exercise you’re doing.
With the app, you can start planning out your meals throughout the week, combining protein, fats and carbs in each meal and making sure you’re hitting your macro percentages. I think the best thing to do this is by meal prepping, you plan out your menu for the whole week and it will just make your life easier. EAT MORE MEALS, it’s better if you eat 5 small meals rather than 3 large meals. Plus the more often you eat the more you boost your metabolism. For snacks I recommend you combine 2 macros at once: a protein and a carb or a protein and a fat. (For example: hummus and carrots or turkey ham with cottage cheese). For other meals, always eat protein, veggies and a carb. Always try eating healthier carbs like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato and try ditching the other ones. Fats shouldn’t be a part of every meal, you don’t want fats turning into fat. I recommend you eat LESS fats than the other two. The perfect lunch for me would be: chicken breast, half a cup of brown rice, 1 cup of mixed veggies. Depending on what I ate for breakfast and for my snacks, I’ll eat half an avocado. Use your imagination! The combinations are infinite.
Tracking your macros can become a hassle if you’re not meal prepping. You’ll be on the app all day trying to figure out if you went overboard or not, believe me, I’ve been there. But as a beginner I think it’s important to use the app and to start understanding more and learning how to eat. If you use the app and track your macros for a few months, you’ll start to understand how to eat balanced meals. Then you wont have to use the app anymore, or do! I don’t use the app all the time but have learned what to combine and when to eat certain things or not. I avoid eating carbs at night so I always try to eat my carbs during the day.
Some people like to do something that’s called “flexible dieting” which is eating whatever you want as long as it fits your macros… it seems to have worked for some people. I’d just rather stick to healthy eating and nourishing my body with the right foods.
As you start feeding your body the right combinations of nutrients, you’ll start noticing changes in your body, I PROMISE. Your muscles need protein to grow, your body needs carbs for energy. DITCH carb free or fat free diets, there's a reason why these should be part of your diet. Eat the right amounts and you’ll be happy with what you see in the mirror.
Here's a breakfast recipe for a balanced breakfast. (Might have gone a little overboard with the peanut butter but I just love it too much!)
½ cup greek yogurt
4 tbsp overnight oats
½ cup frozen strawberries and blackberries
1 tbsp almonds
1 tsp bee pollen
1 tsp cacaso nibs
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp honey.
1. For overnight oats, add oats, almond milk, cinnamon and place in fridge overnight.
2. In the morning, place all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy.