21 Tips to Improve Your Diet for 2021!
Welcome to Part 2 of our 2021 Health & Fitness Kickstart Series!
In part 1, we covered the 21 BEST cardio exercises for 2021. You can check it out by clicking, HERE.
Over the new few weeks we will be taking you through the 21 BEST exercises, workouts, and nutrition tips to build strength, burn fat, improve your health and get a massive head-start on your 2021 goals!
For many, 2020 was a tough year, both physically and mentally. The stress and inactivity took its toll on our health but in 2021 it's time to fight back! It's time to get into a consistent workout routine, improve our diet, and feel our best.
2021 is the year of health and we are here to get you started!
As we move into the new year we have a real opportunity to improve one of the most important aspects of your overall health.. your diet.
Yes, the foods you eat directly impact your overall health, weight loss, energy, and workout performance.
To get you started, we've created a list of the 21 best tips to improve your diet!
These nutrition tips are dedicated to helping you:
Make healthy eating easier
Improve your daily and workout energy
Decrease emotional eating
Boost your health and immune system
Let's get into your 21 diet tips!
1) Stop trying to out exercise a bad diet
You've probably heard some statistics like fat-loss success being 80% about your diet and 20% about your workouts.
Although these numbers may be a bit random and certainly dependent on the individual, they aren't far off.
Think about it.
If you were to workout 2-4x/week, that's typically 2-4 hours a week of work.
That's only 14-28 hours per week out of the 168 hours out of the total week.
As you can see, these workouts make up a tiny percentage of your days, weeks and months.
Although your workouts greatly impact your mood, strength, balance, fitness, muscle tone, etc., the real magic happens during your time outside of the gym when it comes to reaching your goals.
It's the foods we eat and in the proper amounts, that fuel our workouts and our fat-loss.
2) Remove the junk food from your home
Having junk food present, even if it is not intended for you, is more likely to be eaten by you -- especially when you're hungry!
As the saying goes "out of sight, out of mind".
Make it easier on yourself to eat healthier, and more challenging to eat less nutritiously by creating an environment set up for your success.
Replace these foods with more nutritious foods that will keep you satisfied. Foods like nuts, seeds, greek yogurt, veggies & hummus make great snacks.
3) Eat protein at every meal/snack
Having a protein source at every meal is a great way to help you build muscle, regulate blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full, longer.
Stick to non-processed, protein sources like eggs, chicken, turkey, fish and greek yogurt. If you find you are still struggling to get enough protein in due to dietary preferences, add a protein powder into your favorite foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, or in a smoothie!!
4) Decrease caffeine intake after 12pm
Sleep is incredibly important for fat loss, strength, and recovery. Drinking caffeine throughout the evening is only going to delay or disrupt your sleep, elevate stress hormones and hinder weight loss. In fact, this spiral of elevated stress hormones and lack of sleep actually promotes you to store fat.
Instead of reaching for another coffee, increase your water intake or switch to a decaffeinated green tea.
5) Drink more water
We have all heard that our bodies are 60% water. Why does this matter?
Water is crucial for keeping many of our bodily functions working properly. Being properly hydrated improves our energy, performance, cognitive and immune function.
How does this affect fat loss?
Drinking more water helps us feel more full, preventing us from overeating. At the same time, when we drink more water, we are less likely to drink other, high-sugar, high-calorie drinks.
The average American takes in 400 calories through beverages every day. This is an absolute recipe for weight gain.
One simple yet incredibly effective thing you can do to improve your health and fat-loss is to avoid calorie-filled beverages like soda, juices, energy & sport drinks, and alcohol, especially during this challenge. They provide no nutritional value and just add to our daily calorie count.
How much should you drink?
Start by aiming for 8-10 cups of water per day. If you find you need a bit of flavor, try adding lemon, cucumber, mint, or ginger into your water bottle for a flavorful addition. If you enjoy some bubbles and fizz try reaching for a carbonated seltzer water!
6) Plan meals for the week
Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.
If you leave yourself in situations where you are scrambling to pack a lunch or grabbing absolutely anything (or nothing) as you run out the door for your day, you are going to be grabbing bad food.
Or you will be grabbing no food at all which is setting yourself up to starve at work or need to purchase food from a restaurant (which is not a good habit or the healthiest option).
Instead, prepare meals for the week in portioned containers that make for quick grab n' go options that are healthy. Try designating an hour or two out of a day each week and utilizing it to cook multiple days worth of a meal (ex. Lunch could be grilled chicken, breakfast could be some overnight oats). It doesn’t need to be extravagant. Start small by chopping up some fruits and vegetables to make for some easy grabs to throw together throughout the week to add to salads, into greek yogurt, smoothies, etc. If you genuinely have a difficult time carving out that time, try cooking extra at dinner time to leave yourself some healthy leftovers for the next day!
7) Eat SLOW and stop when 80% full
The two most effective holiday eating tips are also the simplest.
First, eat slow.
When we eat too fast or while we are distracted, we consume too much. Do this often and you have a recipe for weight gain. Instead, during this holiday season, eat SLOW.
This does a couple things. First, your brain and stomach take time to match up. In fact, it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to let our brain know we are full. When we eat too fast we don't give our body enough time to sense that we are full. This causes us to continue to eat past the point of us being satisfied and our calories continue to climb.
Secondly, eating slow allows you to slow down and actually enjoy the food you are eating. I find this key during those 20% meals and snacks. If you're going to eat them, you should really enjoy them! It's a win-win. You eat less, but enjoy the foods you're eating more.
Your next eating tip is to stop eating when you're 80% full. This too helps with the time it takes for us to know we've eaten enough.
Instead of eating until the plate is clean, stop eating when you feel about 80% full.
This keeps you mindful throughout your meal and allows you to check in with yourself, not overeat and get to that "stuffed/overfed" feeling.
8) Set goals (short and long term)
This could be the most important tip of all.
Too many people want or wish things to happen but aren't specific enough about them to actually make things happen. This leads us drifting through life without an action plan. Setting goals is a fantastic way to keep you focused and accountable to what you want.
Goals must be:
Make sure your goals aren't something broad like "I want to eat more vegetables". Instead, pick something more specific like "I will eat vegetables with 2 meals/day". This will push you to take targeted action towards that goal.
Writing them down creates an unbelievable amount of accountability. Seeing it everyday keeps it in mind and you focused on the mission.
Have a timeline
Set a deadline for your short and long term goals. This will help you stay focused and keep you taking targeted steps towards your goals.
Make sure you can track your progress with measurable goals. This will help you see if the action plan you are taking is working or if you need to change things up.
These must be your goals. Not your husband's or friend's. When they are yours they are much more likely to become a reality.
9) Have a support system
There is nothing like having a team in reaching your fitness and nutrition goals. We see it everyday at Dynamic within our group training programs. It is amazing what can happen with the encouragement and support of others. When it comes to changing your nutrition, having a group or an individual there to support and hold you accountable goes such a long way to helping you stay committed.
On the flip side, an unsupportive spouse or friend can really derail your progress.
10) Hire a nutrition coach
Too many people try to improve their nutrition on their own. Nowadays there is so much information and gimmicks out there, it's becoming harder and harder to figure out what is good information versus good marketing. This even includes fad diets, 21 day fixes, and product driven detoxes.
Any results seen in a short term diet are completely lost afterwards, oftentimes with even more weight gain as a subsequent result. This is because they are not sustainable.
Focus on eating a healthy diet and incorporating that as a new part of your lifestyle and you will be able to see steady results and keep fat off over the course of your entire life.
This is where a coach can come in to provide you with the right knowledge and steps to help clear the confusion and help you learn the tools to get you on your way to the healthiest and happiest you for the long term!
11) Eat the right foods before your workouts
Supporting your exercise with proper nutrition is crucial for a leaner, stronger you. Fueling your body with junk or not enough food is a recipe for a bad workout and bad results. Eating the right foods will give you the energy to support your workouts and allow you to push harder and longer.
Everything you need to know about what to eat before your workout can be found HERE!
12) Eat the right foods after your workouts
One of the most important meals you can have is after your workouts. Having the right foods when you're done training is crucial for improving recovery and soreness, allowing you to build muscle, burn fat and get ready for your next workout!
Everything you need to know about what to eat before your workout can be found HERE!
13) Eat well on the go and when you're out
There's going to be many times when you're eating on the go or out at a restaurant.
Many of these food choices are created for taste not health.
This means they're loaded with extra calories, fat, and salt.
Making better choices when you're out or on the go will be a game-changer for you.
Here's a few tips:
Eat before you go out (this will allow you to get something healthy in and not leave you starving where you're more likely to make a poor food choice)
Pack a snack (stick to foods like: fresh fruit, low-sugar yogurt, low-sugar protein bar, beef jerky, veggies & hummus, hard boiled eggs, or celery & peanut butter)
Eat well at a restaurant (substitute starchy sides with steamed veggies or a salad, stick to lean protein sources)
14) Make more meals at home
Cooking more at home will help you eat more real, nutritious foods. Not only that, it will allow you to control what exactly goes into the foods you are eating since many packaged foods and foods from restaurants are full of high-calorie additives such as butter, preservatives, oils, and sugars. These all add up to a serious surplus of calories!
Cooking at home is a great way to get the family involved as well! Throw on some tunes and get your littles involved with smaller tasks to help develop their motor skills and nutrition knowledge.
15) Drink protein smoothies
Protein smoothies are one of the best and quickest ways to get a ton of good nutrients. Combining the right ingredients will give you a great amount of vitamins, minerals, protein and energy creating a balanced meal perfect to take on the go! Protein smoothies make for a great post-workout snack, but also a great breakfast option for those busy mornings.
To get started you will need a protein powder. We recommend a whey, plant based, or collagen protein powder. When selecting your powder aim for one that has greater than 15 grams of protein and less than 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
1-2 scoops of protein powder
Handful of frozen strawberries
Handful of fresh spinach
Tbsp. of peanut butter
Unsweetened almond milk
Blend and enjoy
Click below for 8 delicious smoothie recipes!
16) Eat mostly foods without a label
“Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.” - Michael Pollan
The majority of your diet should be made up of foods that come from the earth. These are non-processed, whole foods packed with nutrients that are great for boosting energy, shredding fat, and reducing your risk of disease.
You can find these foods on the perimeter of the grocery store next time you're shopping.
17) Eat before grocery shopping
Grocery shopping while hungry is going to make you rush and make poor food choices. You will make poor food choices based on cravings rather than rational thinking. Then after filling your house with bad foods, you have set yourself up for a week of bad eating. (See #'s 2 and 6)
18) Add healthy fats to meals
There is a popular belief that eating fat makes you fat.
In reality, eating too much of anything makes us overweight. Fat just happens to be the macronutrient who took the bullet.
Healthy fats (poly/monounsaturated), such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, grass-fed butter and salmon are full of heart-healthy fats that are crucial for things like immune and cognitive function and nutrient absorption.
They also help you feel full longer and help improve body composition along with hormone regulation.
Start with 1-2 thumb size portions of healthy fats at each meal.
19) Celebrate the small wins
You replace that soda with a water.
You add a salad to your meal instead of that side of fries.
You add a workout to your week.
Something special happens when you have a small win.
You have another one. And then another.
You start to see that change is possible and start to build some serious momentum. Progress should be prioritized over perfection. The key to reaching your goals is progress.
We are a big fan of what is known as MED (minimal effective dose)
This refers to the smallest amount of change needed to have a positive impact.
Small changes will keep you progressing and make sure you do not try to overhaul your entire nutrition, getting overwhelmed and setting you up for failure.
20) Don't sabotage your hard work on the weekends
The weekend cannot be treated as a vacation from healthy eating every week.
The weekend comprises 2/7 days of the week. That's 30% of your week.
Doing this makes you lose momentum and can take you out of the swing of things and in the nutrition and fitness game, consistency is king. By creating a balance throughout the entirety of the week we can help to prevent the weekend derailment we often see when being overly restrictive or not in control. Include the weekends into your weekly planning to ensure that consistency from the week carries over effectively.
21) Understand it's not selfish
One area I see a lot of people struggle with initially is thinking that it's selfish to make time to improve their health and fitness.
They feel like it's selfish to take time away from their families to work on themselves.
One thing they discover though as they start to feel so much better, is that the opposite is true.
Instead, their energy increases.
Their confidence grows.
And then they're able to give so much more to those around them.
How helpful will you be to those you love if you're tired, run down, and sick?
Take care of yourself and make health and energy your priority!