What you eat and when is critical for building a leaner body, and it’s fair to say that your efforts in the supermarket and the kitchen have as much of an impact in the success of your transformation as what you do in the gym. The first step is to make sure your cupboards and fridge are packed with all the fresh and nutritious foods you need to eat more of – think lean meats, fish, nuts, vegetables and fruits – and all high-sugar sweets and snacks are firmly out of sight. Because if you don’t see them when you open the cupboard door you are far less likely to eat them. Once you’ve got the kitchen sorted, here’s what you need to do to start eating for a better body.
1 Eat protein for breakfast
A protein-rich breakfast is one the smartest strategies to adopt when wanting to lose fat fast, because protein is digested slowly so its calories are released gradually for a sustained feeling of energy. It keeps you feeling fuller for longer, unlike sugary cereals, so you don’t feel the need to reach for a Danish mid-morning to boost your flagging energy levels. Protein also helps to repair the damage done to your muscles through exercise. A couple of eggs is your best bet, and here’s three more reasons to have them to start your day.
2 Eat a wide variety of veg
Along with protein, vegetables should make up a significant part of every meal you eat. Veg is very low in calories but very high in antioxidants and many essential vitamins and minerals to help you look, feel and perform at your best. It’s also packed with fibre, which will help you feel full long after eating and keep things moving through your digestive system. The key is to eat a wide range of different types and colours of veg to get the maximum number of beneficial nutrients. If you’re not a huge fan of veg then start by filling one-quarter of your plate with veg, and aim to increase that over a number of weeks until it fills up half the plate. Here’s more on how to easily and effortlessly increase the amount of fruit and veg you eat.
3 Eat carbs around exercise
Carbs have gotten a bad rap of late, being blamed for the burgeoning obesity epidemic after replacing fats as the new nutritional bogeyman. While cutting down on sugar is an important step to shrink your belly – find out how to do that here – the best approach is to time your daily carb intake around training. That’s because carbs allow you to recover from training faster, and it’s important that you are fully energised for each session so you can push yourself. The smart choice is always foods closest to their natural form, such as brown rice and potatoes, to keep the calorie count down and get the nutritional benefits that get stripped out of heavily-processed foods, such as white bread and french fries.
4 Drink more water
We humans are about 70% water and even minor dehydration leads to poor focus and lack of motivation, two causes behind making poor food choices and performing badly in the gym – if you even manage to make it there, of course! Water also flushes toxins and waste from your body, making you look and feel fitter. Here’s how to avoid dehydration: drink a big glass of water as soon as you wake up; pay more attention to thirst; drink more during exercise or in hot or humid conditions; choose water as your go-to drink (instead of alcohol or caffeinated drinks). If you often forget to drink enough water – you may notice you feel mentally and physically tired – fill up a water bottle at the beginning of the day, keep it close and take a big gulp every time you look at it!