Do you want to eat healthy? But are bogged down about how to keep track of calories-math and nutrients composition of various foods. I have devised a 10 thumb rules strategy to guide you eat in a healthy way without having to keep a food-journal keeping track of calorie numbers & grams of nutrients.
Let’s see why my strategy will work? It’s simple! My experience is that following a set of rules is easier than reasoning it out each time whenever you eat something & a food choice arises – “Would it be healthier to eat that food or not”. Whenever you find yourself in such a situation – follow these rules. If it’s not in accordance with the rules, don’t eat it. The rule is rule, after all! Does it not sound easy?
10 Rules To Eat Healthy Without Counting Number Of Calories Or Grams Of Nutrients
1. How many times a day? Eat smaller meals / snacks at about 3 hour intervals. For example meals at 8AM, 2PM and 8PM, with snacks in between at 11 AM and 5 PM. You can adjust the timings as per your schedule. You may have to vary the timings on some days as per your schedule for those days, but try to maintain a gap of minimum 2 hours and maximum of 4 hours.
Note: Though, not necessary but for those who still like counting calories, aim for 450 each (Female) / 500 each (Male) for breakfast, lunch & dinner – and 250 each for the 2 snacks. But remember you may have to adjust these numbers in accordance with your goals.
2. Protein: Each meal should comprise of adequate amount of complete protein (fish, lean meat, eggs, added protein powder). Try to apply this rule to snacks also.
3. What About Carbs? Fast-absorbing carbohydrates, for example simple carbs such as sugars & white bread are bad foods that you must avoid. Though, you may have fast carbohydrates at breakfast & after your main training session during the day. But only complex (slow digesting) carbs for rest of the day. Fruit is an exception – yes, it has loads of sugar, but it also has plenty of other healthy stuff, which makes fruit a great choice – but not the canned fruit or juice.
Read here my check list for healthy foods
4. What About Early Morning? If you do early morning jogging, running or some other moderate cardio exercises, then you don’t need to have anything, though, if you like you may have only black coffee. But if your early morning routine is a heavy resistance training then make sure you intake some fast-absorbing carbohydrates before workout. For example a banana is a good choice.
5. Breakfast Rule: After the morning workout, your breakfast should include good amount of protein and sufficient carbohydrates. A typical healthy breakfast will include oats + protein shake / trimmed-fat bacon + poached eggs / eggs omelet with veggies + wholegrain bread). This is ideal time for you to eat approximately twenty five % of your required daily intake of carbohydrates.
6. Post Workout: If you workout later in the day, then make sure to eat a meal or snack that comprise of good amount of protein & fast-absorbing carbs immediately after you complete the workout. Remember our body absorbs the nutrients more after heavy training as compared to any other time of the day. Most trainers prefer protein shakes with carbs & a piece of fruit because besides being a healthy post recovery option they can be carried easily to the gym. Another twenty five % of your daily carb needs can come from this.
7. What About Fat? Keep in mind, all fats are not bad. Yes, you should avoid trans fats totally and reduce intake of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats offer many health benefits, and you don’t have to fear them, so include them in your daily diet. Oily fish, nuts and seeds are few examples of unsaturated fat.
8. Carbs? Always opt for low-carb/sugar-free/low-fat versions of everything. Fast absorbing carbohydrates are much-much worse than fat.
9. Play wise on portion size – avoid stuffing yourself. However, feel free to eat lots of protein! And make it a point to keep you away from extra salt, trans fats and sugar.
10. Following the above “10 tenets of eating healthy” doesn’t mean that you can’t be social – you don’t have to be a diet bore. Be imaginative while eating out! For example see if it’s possible to substitute some green salad for the chips – rather than missing the meal and feeling starved afterwards. And when comes the time for a desert, go for fresh fruit, but without syrup or cream.
Keep in mind, it’s your body – you only can take care of it and in turn it will take care of you.
Breaking the rules: If ever you have to break the rules, it should really be something worth breaking the rules! But only if it is actually something outstanding like splendid bread, dazzling beer or rare wine – not a usual stuff and that too on rare occasion.