Want to know the best food choices for a lean and nice-looking body?
This article explains why to choose certain foods over others and offers a list of the healthiest, low-calorie foods for great nutrition and fitness!
Focus on Nutrients
Although your diet choices may depend on your fitness goals, for example, you may want to eat more protein if you’re trying to build or maintain muscle mass, everyone should focus on his or her daily intake of nutrients. Nutrients, as defined by Wikipedia.org, “are the substances that enrich the body. They build and repair tissues, give heat and energy, and regulate body processes.” Without being too strict with yourself, you can make healthy food choices that will enhance your nutrition and physical fitness program and keep you energized throughout your day!
Calories and Weight
Depending on your weight, age, and fitness goals, it is a good idea to eat between 1600-2200 calories per day. If you’re a 5'9" male, weigh around 165 pounds, and do a 45-minute aerobic workout four times per week; it's good to eat around 2000 calories per day. If you’re a 5'4" female, weigh 130 pounds, and do a 30-minute aerobic workout 3 times per week, it would be more suitable to eat roughly 1700-1800 calories per day to maintain your weight. For weight loss, you can eat 100-200 fewer calories per day and/or workout more often or for a longer duration, which will help you burn more calories.
Calorie-Counting Versus Eating Smart
Although how many calories you eat and how many you burn is an essential factor when it comes to weight management and optimum physical fitness, I do not recommend obsessive calorie counting. It takes the fun out of fitness!
What's great to focus on are your food choices, portions, and the frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts. I recommend familiarizing yourself with the general amount of calories per serving in common foods, or foods you eat most frequently. Understand what foods yield more bang for your buck. Know what foods are low-calorie, nutrient-rich energizers and which are high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie energy zappers! Foods in both of these categories are listed at the end of this article. You can also take a look at the Food Nutrition Chart for an easy-to-read table of foods by food group that lists each item's fat and calorie content.
Another way to lower your calorie intake, if you’re finding that you’re going over your healthy daily limit, is to serve yourself half as much as you think you can eat at any given meal and eat twice as SLOWLY! It takes a little while (approximately 15 minutes) for your brain to get the message from your stomach that food is being digested and converted into energy. If you relax and eat more slowly, guaranteed, you will feel full before you overeat. Just give yourself a bit more time before you reach for more food.
Eat Less, Feel Better
Our bodies don’t need as much food or as many calories as we have been conditioned to think they do. The food industry makes more money if you buy and eat more food, so they have an investment in pushing more and more into our mouths! The outcome of this bad habit is actually quite detrimental. Regularly consuming an unnecessarily high amount of calories throughout one’s life, especially in the form of excess animal protein, can lead to obesity and high cholesterol and play a roll in the development and progression of other diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and more. In their book,The China Study, which focuses mostly on evidence that cancer is caused by a diet high in animal protein, T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II offer their support for a plant-based, whole foods diet. They note that such a diet greatly inhibits disease and allows the body to use more efficiently any extra calories consumed.
Raw Food: A Major Energy Factor!
Most foods have some combination of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals, and many have fat. It is these nutrients, and how close they are to their natural state when eaten, that offer a higher or lower energy factor. With few exceptions, the closer a food is to its raw state, the more potential it has to give you energy. That means, if you eat a food in its raw state, you can consume less of it and still feel satiated and energized! Heating food begins to destroy the enzymes and nutrients within the food. The longer a food is heated or cooked and the higher the temperature used, the more nutrients destroyed. A big problem these days is that we have been seduced by the quick fix of processed and packaged foods that are basically devoid of nutrients. The processing and preservatives strip the "goodies" inherent in raw, natural foods. Although the foods still contain calories, they have little energy to offer us. We are eating more than ever, but our cells are starving.
When we make food choices based on an understanding of how our bodies utilize live nutrients for energy, we can sustain our energy and consume much less food. It takes energy for our bodies to digest food, so the more we eat, the harder our bodies have to work. If we take in dead, empty foods we will receive diminishing returns. Working that hard without a quality fuel source, our bodies will burn out. That burn-out will take the form of lack of overall fitness and eventual disease.
Quick-Preparation Healthy Foods
Many raw foods can be prepared just as quickly as any microwavable dinner, have less than half the calories, and won’t drain your energy. Instead of overloading your digestive system and liver, these foods eaten in their raw state or lightly steamed, offer the body antioxidants, or cancer and disease-fighters, that extend life. Leafy green salads, homemade salad dressings, fruits, chopped veggies with healthy dips, and sprouted or steamed grains with olive oil, soy sauce, or low-glycemic Agave syrup can all be excellent alternatives to over-processed cereals, breads, pastas, bagels, crackers, over-cooked meats and frozen dinners.
Below is a list of ENERGIZERS--healthy, low-calorie, energy-packed foods that you can eat to feel satisfied and that will enhance your nutrition and physical fitness! There is also a list of ENERGY ZAPPERS–-those foods that can be high or low-calorie, but are essentially devoid of nutrients and take tons of energy to digest without giving it back. These foods can actually trigger insulin production and make you tired because many are so over-processed that they become high-glycemic and raise your blood sugar when they are consumed, or they are so hard to digest that your system must work overtime. With nutrient-rich foods at an arm’s length, it is easy to make the healthiest decisions, again and again. The choice is YOURS!
(Alkaline Foods, should make up the majority of your diet)
WATER!!! (Its importance can’t be overstated!)
Eaten Raw (1 or 2 servings per day)
Avocado (Small portions - high in fat)
Raw Nut and Seed Butters (especially almond, smaller portions - high in fat)
Raw or Juiced (All the servings you want! These are super-foods!)
Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
Peppers (bell or other)
Beets (Slightly smaller portions – high in sugar)
Carrots (Slightly smaller portions – high in sugar)
Walnuts (avoid peanuts – carcinogenic, or cancer-causing)
Cooked (Sprouted or lightly steamed is best!)
Beans (Avoid soy if you’re allergic)
Fish (White fish, salmon, etc.)
Rice (Avoid white rice)
100% Whole Grains or Pastas (Amaranth, Millet, Quinoa – avoid gluten if you’re allergic, wheat, oats, etc.)
Sweat Potato (Small portions – high in sugar)
Other Healthy Foods
Coconut Oil (Very beneficial if cold or expeller pressed virgin coconut oil)
Fish, Flax, and Primrose Oils
Cultured and Fermented Foods (Miso, Tempeh, Cultured Vegetables)
(Acid/Mucus-Forming Foods, limit these)
Very High-Sugar Foods
White and Brown Sugar
Dried Fruit (Raisins, etc.)
Cheese (Casein, a protein in most dairy products, may be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing)
Peanuts and Peanut Butter (carcinogenic)
High-Fat Milk (or cow’s milk in general, rice/almond milk is best)
Basmati or White Rice
Poultry (Can be okay as an energy-sustainer in small portions)
Eggs (Can be okay in small portions, but very acid-forming)
So, it's up to you! Sustain your energy and look and feel great with the healthiest food choices for your nutrition and physical fitness. The quality of your life is SO worth it!
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