Talk to any fitness enthusiast and you’ll get the same story of how being active is their primary way of staying healthy, fit, and strong. You’ll rarely hear them complain about energy slumps, struggling to get enough sleep, or failing to get those three main meals every day, and then resist the temptation to dive into a box of donuts when they’re stressed. Exercise is definitely one key pillar to healthy living, but it’s not the magic bullet to all-around wellbeing, as you need to eat your way to health and fitness, too.
In addition to elevating your energy and helping you regulate your sleeping patterns, exercise puts plenty of stress on your body, not to mention the muscle soreness that comes later, or possible injuries you might deal with. All those situations require a steady intake of nutritious food that will help your body preserve its immune system, energy levels, resist the sugar cravings, and build muscle. To maximize the potential of your workouts, you need food. Here are a few tips to help you get your nutrition in order to suit your active lifestyle perfectly!
Read the Labels Carefully
Let’s face it, we don’t have the time to eat home-cooked meals every day, all day, so we’ll reach for a store-bought option to stay fueled at work. When you buy your meals, and you have specific fitness goals, you should be very mindful of the content of everything you purchase. Whether you’re trying to shed some fat or gain muscle mass, you need to understand the impact of every meal on your goals. It’s not just raw calories, it’s also about the nutritional value of what you’re eating and how it can impact your efforts, energy, and your health.
Become a master of understanding those labels, so that you can choose healthier alternatives when you don’t have the time to cook your own meals. This is especially important for soda-lovers, since you might be going overboard with your sugar intake without realizing it, since you’re drinking it instead of eating it the old-fashioned way. In time, you’ll know more about each ingredient, which ones to avoid, and which ones you can consume.
Don’t Skimp on Water
Too many people go about their day without giving their water intake a second thought. Although you don’t have to put too much time and effort into planning each glass you’ll drink, you should be aware if you’re under-hydrated, when you need to refuel more, and if you’re already feeling certain consequences of poor hydration habits. That might include headaches, drowsiness, lack of focus, and the like.
The simplest way to keep your water intake in check without effort is to use an insulated water bottle as your key checkpoint. You can determine your approximate water needs based on your activity levels, and you can easily monitor your drinking during the day based on how many times you need to go for a refill.
Keep it Simple, Silly
Being active also means you’re often busy. The reality of leading an active lifestyle is that you cannot always find the time for meal-prepping or stacking your fridge with enough groceries to last you a week, or to consume meals that will keep your energy levels under control for your vigorous training sessions. More often than not, you can use high-quality supplements to make sure that you can stay true to your daily nutrition needs without wrecking your schedule.
Whether you need to amp up your protein intake with the help of protein powder, or you’re having trouble maintaining a vegan diet with food alone, supplements are indeed a great way to get that perfect balance for an active life. Whatever your goals may be, these additions are a wonderful way to save time and preserve your health in one go.
Nutrient-dense Over All Else
Our fitness goals shape our eating habits, so we naturally look for ways to reduce our caloric intake when we want to lose the love handles, and we look for ways to stay energized when we’re preparing for a marathon. It’s equally vital to remember that our food shouldn’t fit just one category, but we also need to choose our meals based on their nutrient density.
Although some might need to monitor calories while others need to focus on upping their protein, make sure that you choose whole foods that are loaded with minerals and vitamins as well as the main three macronutrients. Otherwise, you risk consuming too many empty calories with little value for your immune system, energy, or strength.
Carbs are Your Friends – Just Choose the Right Kind
Ever since the keto diet stole the spotlight, people have started perceiving carbs as the key source of dietary evil, and that’s simply not the case. Just like not all fats or proteins are created equal, not all carbs should be dubbed “bad” for your goals. On the contrary, carbs are your body’s primary source of energy, and you shouldn’t deprive it of healthy carb sources.
Depending on your levels of activity, metabolism, and health, you should make sure that the majority of your carbs comes from fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and not sugary foods that have zero value for your health. Maybe you can consume less starchy carbs and replace them with green veggies and similar, micronutrient-dense plants. This is a great way to reduce calories and increase the nutrient density of each meal you consume.
Optimizing your nutrition is one key step to ensure lifelong health. Add to that, once you start making smarter decisions in your eating patterns, you’ll notice that your energy levels will soar and your workouts will be even more efficient as well as effective. Use your diet to fuel your health one day at a time, and your active lifestyle will blossom!