It’s well understood that being physically active on its own isn’t enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s like achieving a new bench pressing goal and then celebrating with a double cheeseburger — it’s counterproductive. A healthy diet is the backbone of a healthy lifestyle — for our minds and our bodies.
Although it’s true to say that we all need to eat vegetables and fruits, specific exercise regimes will need different dietary requirements to achieve a perfect balance. For example, those with a high intensity workout regime will need to consume more protein and calories than those who don’t.
But where do you start? And how can you tell if your diet is helping you achieve the best balance and supporting the healthiest lifestyle? Let us share a few pieces of key advice, and some tips for specific exercise/diet regimes to cater your diet to your needs.
Planning Your Diet
In order to make sure your diet is adequate for your needs, you need to first establish the key elements of your lifestyle. Think about the following:
- How much exercise do you do, and why?
- How often do you exercise and for how long?
- What is your day-to-day routine?
- What are your goals? Do you exercise to build muscle or to stay fit?
These questions are important for many reasons. Those in a physically taxing job will need to consume more calories whilst at work than someone who works in an office, for example. The frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts will also play a part in your dietary requirements, as well as your overall goals.
Drinking Enough Water is Important
There are general tips and tricks which all people can follow to improve their diet and make it more suitable for an active lifestyle, however. One key thing to include in your diet, especially when you have an active lifestyle, is water. This may seem to be common sense, but many people forgo water for something different (or just forget altogether), such as an energy drink or protein shake.
But when it comes down to it, water is the most hydrating drink for your body – it helps cleanse out any toxins and improves many other aspects of your general health. It’s important to drink water all the time, not just during or after we exercise.
Eat Protein for an Active Lifestyle
Protein is also a key part of any diet that coincides with an active lifestyle. Whilst exercise burns fat and contributes to weight loss, having a sufficient amount of protein within your diet means that the muscles you are working will become lean and defined.
Protein also aids with the maintenance and general health of your muscles, as well as being a key source of energy. You are able to buy protein supplements if naturally incorporating it into your diet is proving to be difficult, and your body will thank you for taking the time. Protein helps our muscles recover, it helps them grow, and is integral to any healthy lifestyle.
Adopt a Well-Rounded and Regular Diet
This is something that anyone looking to have a happier, healthier lifestyle should adopt. It’s important to eat protein for increased activity, but an overall healthier diet will do your body wonders, and so will eating at regular times (so please put down that 3am snack).
Every day, you should be eating three meals, and 50-60 percent of those meals should consist of carbohydrates – your body’s favourite source of energy. But of course, overeating carbs is an epidemic we all know too well. The idea is to have a balanced meal that consists of something like:
- ½ Fruits and/or vegetables
- ¼ Carbohydrates (i.e. starches like rice or pasta)
- ¼ Protein
Keeping this ratio at every meal is an easy method to help you consume the right proportion of energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Although snacking between meals is not necessary, if you tend to get hungry between meals, your snacks should follow the same golden rule. Some good examples could consist of a handful of fruit and nut trail mix, apple slices and peanut butter, or a small bowl of low-fat granola with raisins or bananas.
Planning a Healthy Diet: Muscle Gain
If you do have a specific goal in mind, there are some other things to take into consideration when planning the healthiest diet for your needs. If you are becoming more active to increase your muscle mass, protein is key as well as healthy carbohydrates and fats. Keep in mind that you’ll need more of it to meet the demands of building muscles.
You should focus on exercising regularly and eating more calories each day from healthy, protein rich foods if your goal is to gain lean muscle. These foods include things like eggs, salmon, and chicken breast. But, if you’re a vegetarian, you can incorporate more protein into your diet by eating soybeans, quinoa, or protein powders.
Planning a Healthy Diet: Losing Weight
If your goal is to become more healthy overall and drop a few unnecessary pounds, you’ll want to have a more balanced diet that doesn’t focus so much on proteins. It’s common knowledge that cutting out sugars and starches is a good way to lose weight. But what can you add to your diet to make sure you’re replacing these unhealthy foods with healthy equivalents?
While protein and healthy fats are still important, low-carb vegetables are an excellent way to lose weight and gain energy. These can consist of broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage, or tomatoes (to name a very select few). A good tip is to create meals that consist of a protein source, a fat source, and a low carb vegetable. This way you will stay within the 20-50 gram carb range — leaving you full, satisfied, and working towards losing weight.
There are many factors to consider when you start to plan out a healthier diet for your active lifestyle. Try making a meal plan once you determine your goals and needs. This will keep you on the right path to an overall healthier you!