Navigating the sea of nutritional and dietary information can be overwhelming. Whether you are looking to drop 15 pounds or lower your blood cholesterol, the rate at which the rules seem to change is astounding. One week a glass of red wine is said to lower stress levels and benefit heart health. The next it is a contributor to high blood sugar levels and weight gain.
So what do we do with all this contrasting advice?
Like most complex questions, our answer is not that simple. Individual needs vary based on age, activity level, genetic factors, food allergies, etc. Unfortunately, trial and error is still a method we still employ, and what works for me might not jive with your lifestyle. However, the commonality in all successful nutritional programs is balance and consistency.
Sure, if you are a master of tracking your intake and hit all your macro-nutrients goals on a daily basis, you will probably be pretty healthy and lean. And if that works for you, that’s great. But if logging every calorie that enters your mouth seems burdensome, unappealing, or time consuming, I suggest you begin with some simpler methods.
JUST EAT REAL FOOD
First, and I know this sounds simple, eat real food. A diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and animal and plant proteins will provide your mind and body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to perform optimally. And along with better health, you will reap a multitude of other benefits, including improved body composition, energy levels, sleep habits, sexual health, athletic performance, and more!
DRINK MORE WATER
Next, drink water. No, more. A majority of the population has an inadequate water intake. And for most folks, eight 8 oz glasses of water a day is the bare minimum; more active individuals could require nearly double that amount. But if you’re looking for a rule of thumb, try drinking half of your body weight in pounds in ounces of water a day. So if you are a 170 pound male, aim for 85 ounces daily.
Not only does water facilitate vital body functions like digestion, perspiration, and waste excretion, but it also helps curb appetite and limit unnecessary snacking! Despite the complexity of the human brain, it lacks a sound mechanism to differentiate between thirst and hunger. So next time you reach for a few crackers, potato chips, or an extra serving of dessert, try a glass of water and see if that craving is still there!