Gym-goers should adopt healthy eating habits that will help them lose weight, build lean muscle, and maintain peak performance both inside and outside the gym.
In this article:
- Switch to Complex Carbohydrate Food Sources
- Cut Out High-Sugar Drinks
- Consume More Healthy Unsaturated Fats
- Eat Enough Fiber
- Consume More Protein
- Cut Out Highly Processed Food Choices
- Practice Portion Control
- Don’t Stop Snacking
- Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
9 Healthy Eating Habits to Try This Year
1. Switch to Complex Carbohydrate Food Sources
There are generally two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
Simple carbs consist of only one or two sugar molecules. Meanwhile, complex carbohydrates are food sources that contain longer chains of multiple sugar molecules.
Since simple carbs have less sugar molecules, the body easily digests and absorbs them into the bloodstream. This leads to short energy bursts with insulin spikes that may cause higher blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrate food choices take a much longer time to digest and don’t raise blood sugar levels as much. In fact, a lot of diabetic patients opt for complex carbs.
Fitness buffs who want to maintain a lean physique should source their energy from complex carbs rather than simple carbs. Create a healthy eating plan composed of complex carbohydrates that are the least processed and refined.
This includes food choices such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, oatmeal, bulgur, sweet potatoes, legumes, and corn. Of course, eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting out simple carbs entirely.
Simple carb food choices such as fruit and milk add so many nutrients and vitamins to a healthy eating plate. Just remember to consume them in moderation when eating healthy to lose weight.
2. Cut Out High-Sugar Drinks
Healthy eating habits aren’t only about what a person eats. Gym-goers should also consider the liquids they consume.
One of the most common healthy eating tips fitness buffs hear is swapping out juice and soda for water. Drinks such as these often add no additional nutritional, just calories and sugar.
Keep in mind that excessive calorie and sugar consumption leads to weight gain. On top of that, the energy these drinks provide is not sustainable.
Rather than these high-sugar beverages, fitness buffs should drink more water. Also, gym-goers should try not to drink too many sports drinks.
They may have enough electrolytes to rehydrate the body faster, but sports drinks are not a replacement for water. This goes for fitness buffs who swear by zero-calorie soda variants as well.
Remember that the only true zero-calorie drink is water.
3. Consume More Healthy Unsaturated Fats
Gym-goers who want to lose weight by cutting back on carbs should create a healthy eating habit of consuming more healthy fats.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not important to avoid all kinds of fatty foods. There are fats that actually promote good cardiac and cardiovascular performance.
Healthy fats offer an array of benefits for gym-goers who want to build lean muscle. In fact, one needs healthy fats to absorb certain fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
That means that no matter how good a supplement program is, the body won’t absorb the nutrients as much if it doesn’t have enough healthy fats.
Also, gym-goers will be happy to know that sourcing energy from healthy fats leads to long-lasting, sustainable energy. Fitness buffs trying to cut back on carbs should eat more healthy fats to get the energy they need to dominate the day.
Some healthy fats gym-goers should eat include olives, avocados, walnuts, canola oil, salmon, peanut butter, almonds, and flax seeds.
4. Eat Enough Fiber
One common mistake gym-goers commit when cooking healthy recipes is not focusing enough on fiber intake. They focus on protein for lean muscles and healthy fats for energy but not many pay attention to fiber.
There are generally two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps slow down digestion so the body can absorb nutrients better.
Fitness buffs who feel lacking in energy should think twice before downing multiple bottles of energy drinks. These drinks might resolve sluggishness by simply increasing soluble fiber intake.
Meanwhile, insoluble fiber increases stool bulk by helping food pass through the digestive system. Fitness buffs who suffer from constipation should incorporate more food choices high in insoluble fiber into their diet.
Of course, it’s not unusual to meet gym-goers who don’t eat nearly enough fiber. Unlike protein, carbs, and calories, not many people measure how much fiber is in a specific item.
For example, almost everyone knows that brown rice has fiber, but how much is actually in a single serving? Generally, a person would need to eat about 10 cups of brown rice every day just to get the necessary fiber content.
Of course, that’s not possible as it would also drastically increase the number of carbs they consume. To consume enough fiber without packing on unnecessary calories, try to incorporate various food items with good fiber content into your daily diet.
For example, a serving of brown rice, chickpeas, and fruits has around 15g of fiber. This almost meets the required 25 grams of fiber per day.
Tip: Consuming fiber early in the morning helps slow down the absorption throughout the day. This will help the body produce long-lasting, sustainable energy one needs to maintain peak performance.
5. Consume More Protein
Gym-goers know the importance of getting enough protein all too well. Protein provides amino acids which help build, repair, and maintain muscle tissue.
Generally, fitness enthusiasts should consume about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Something as simple as a protein shake after a workout can already do wonders for the body.
Plus, consuming more protein helps suppress the appetite while producing enough energy for both work and play. Some great sources of protein are eggs, lean meat, chicken breast, soy, fish, and nuts.
Tip: To maximize the results of protein, one should know when to consume it. Fitness buffs should consume some source of protein after working out.
During the anabolic window, the body requires enough nutrients to repair muscle tissue. Drinking protein during this timeframe helps speed up the recovery process allowing one to hit the weights again the very next day.
Anabolic Window Definition: The 30-minute post-workout timeframe where the body switches from a catabolic state to an anabolic one.
6. Cut Out Highly Processed Food Choices
To sculpt a lean, tight physique, create a healthy eating grocery list that contains almost no highly processed foods. Keep in mind that eating processed foods isn’t necessarily bad.
The term processed refers to any method that prepares raw ingredients. In fact, cooking and prepping meals at home is already a form of food processing.
The types of processed foods fitness buffs should avoid are the ones with plenty of artificial ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives. While they may be convenient and delicious, they also contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, saturated fat, and empty calories.
Some processed foods to avoid include margarine, hotdogs, flavored nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, and the all-time favorite, bacon.
7. Practice Portion Control
No matter how many HIIT workouts a person does, it won’t matter if they keep eating enough food to feed a small village. Apart from adopting healthy eating habits, one needs to portion their meals as well.
In today’s society, servings are getting larger and larger. So it’s no wonder why people don’t mind their food consumption as much when they’re cooking at home.
To maximize the benefits of eating healthy, fitness buffs need to control how much they eat. A good way to go about this is to gradually eat smaller meal sizes throughout the day.
For example, the largest meals should be breakfast and lunch. Dinner and snacks should consist of low-calorie, yet filling, food choices since the body’s metabolic rate decreases as the day progresses.
8. Don’t Stop Snacking
A common reason some fitness enthusiasts fail their diet plans is they’re too strict. For example, they force themselves not to have any snacks to lose weight fast.
While it may be effective, it also forces one’s cravings to grow stronger. They’ll eventually lapse and it’ll be much harder to recover.
It’s not necessarily bad to have snacks in the middle of the day. So instead of cutting out snacks, opt to create healthy eating habits of low-calorie, on-the-go snacks.
In fact, these foods may give the body the extra energy boost it needs to pump out more reps at the gym or work long hours in the office. What’s bad for health is eating unhealthy snacks with loads of saturated fats.
Some snacks to avoid include favorites such as chips, chocolate, dried fruits, soda, sugar-filled cookies, and fries. Replace them with items such as sweet potatoes, mixed nuts, Greek yogurt, kale chips, dark chocolate, and mixed berries, among others.
9. Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
Healthy eating on a budget can be a real struggle. It’s more affordable to grab a hotdog from the local fast food restaurant than to order an expensive salad.
In fact, a common reason some fitness buffs cannot commit to their healthy eating meal plan is the high cost. With that in mind, a lot of fitness buffs wonder how to start eating healthy without raising their monthly expenses.
One solid way to commit to a healthy lifestyle is to prepare meals ahead of time. The practice of meal prepping limits the food that gym-goers consume.
Fitness buffs literally have no choice but to live by their healthy eating plans unless they want their food to go to waste. Plus, preparing one’s own meals is definitely cheaper than getting overpriced organic food from the convenience store.
Of course, make sure to use ingredients that don’t easily spoil. Invest in a good amount of meal prep containers, as well, for easy storage.
Find out more in this video to know more tips and hacks on healthy eating habits to save more time and money from Rachel Aust:
These are just some of the most important healthy eating habits to adopt. Overall, fitness buffs should stick to all-natural food choices that don’t use chemicals, additives, or preservatives.
Also, it’s important to eat a variety of food items. A healthy diet paired with a solid supplement program is definitely what the body needs to maximize training results.
What healthy eating habits do you live by? Share them in the comments section down below!