By Guest Author: Kim Lyons
When it comes to getting a strong, healthy body, the fact remains: you cannot out-exercise an unhealthy diet. A strong core is built with exercise, but a lean midsection starts in the kitchen.
In my 20+ years' experience as a master certified trainer and nutrition coach, I've worked with everyone from athletes to people looking to lose hundreds of pounds. My 5 simple rules are a one-size-fits-all approach and have stood the test of time. As a mom, wife, and business owner, I need fast, simple rules to make practicing what I preach easy!
These 5 simple rules are essential to construct a healthy body that will help you feel strong and proud.
Fuel with 1-Ingredient Foods
Regardless of what "nutrition tribe" you belong to, there is one thing that all experts agree on; eating food in its natural form is the key to good health. Following my "1 ingredient" rule will change the way you look and feel.
My "1-Ingredient rule" may take a bit of practice. However, it truly is as simple as it gets, and you can do it. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, and olive oil, and various herbs and spices. Avoid processed food regardless of how convincing the "healthy" label may be. Look for foods without a nutrition label!
It's simple: eat foods and combine foods with ONE ingredient. The possibilities are endless.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, eggs, veggies scramble, fruit, or plain Greek yogurt with honey.
Lunch: A protein bowl with rice or quinoa, a variety of grilled veggies, a protein with your seasoning of choice, topped with toasted sesame oil and coconut aminos (similar to soy sauce).
Snack: Fruit + nuts, beef jerky, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt with honey, hard-boiled eggs with mustard, toasted chickpeas or cucumber slices, avocado and/or tomato slices with sea salt and pepper, olives, pickles.
Dinner: Chickpea, brown rice, or lentil pasta with olive oil, grilled chicken, and veggies with seasoning or an extra-large salad with your choice of protein, toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon, sea salt, EVOO and vinegar
Ditch the Digital During Meals
We live in a society surrounded by 24/7 stimulus from text messages, social media, emails, streaming TV, and endless information at our fingertips. It's essential to be 100% present and mindful when eating. Ditching the digital will not only help you stop the mindless eating, but will help create a time to check in with your mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
Constant stress leads to excess cortisol that can wreak havoc on your visceral fat levels. While cortisol does play an essential role in our bodies, it's vital to avoid frequently elevated levels. Take time during your meals and snacks to breathe, unwind, and connect with your food, friends, and family.
Get Your Daily 25-30 Grams of Fiber
Follow rule one, and this one will be easy! Most women only get about 15 g of fiber each day. I want you to aim for the recommended 25-30. Fiber not only helps you feel full and decrease the spikes in your blood sugar levels, but it also helps keep your gut happy and healthy.
Believe it or not, about 500 different species of bacteria live in the intestine, totaling about 100 trillion cells. These gut bacteria are also known as gut flora. You provide food, shelter, and a safe habitat for the bacteria. In return, they take care of some crucial things that the human body cannot do on its own, such as blood sugar control, immune function, and even brain function, to name only a few.
Unlike most carbs, proteins, and fats, our cells don't have the enzymes to digest fiber. It's able to reach the large intestines relatively unchanged. This fiber provides the good bacteria in the intestine with the fuel they need to keep our guts running optimally.
I want you to focus 110% on hydration. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Staying hydrated is the perfect way to increase energy, improve the appearance of your skin, debloat, increase performance, and improve your digestion and metabolism. Yet it’s one of the most overlooked essentials.
How much water do we need each day?
The Institute of Medicine recommends women drink at least 74 ounces each day. That's a little over 9 cups. However, the answer isn't that simple. So much depends on the climate, exercise and sweat, altitude, height, and age. There are too many variables to put an exact number on how much we should drink each day.
The best way to know if you’re hydrated is to check your urine color. It should be very light yellow.
Let's look at 10 important facts about water:
- Thirst only appears when our bodies are already dehydrated.
- A 2% reduction of water levels in the body can lead to a 20% decrease in mental and physical performance.
- Proper water intake helps prevent the skin from sagging and gives it a more youthful appearance.
- Water retention is a sign of dehydration. The best way to prevent bloating and water retention is by drinking a lot of water.
- Water is the leading food the body needs.
- Water aids in the process of digestion.
- Our bodies consist of 55-75% water.
- Two symptoms of dehydration are depression and fatigue.
- Water allows the body to metabolize fats more efficiently.
- 70% of the human brain is water.
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning, before every meal/snack, and a glass before bed.
- Sip herbal tea and broth throughout the day.
- Eat plenty of water-rich foods, such as watermelon, leafy greens, strawberries, celery, cucumbers, and yogurt.
- Carry a water bottle with you all day. I love the sport-top bottles and the big mugs with a straw. Fill them up with ice and a squeeze of citrus and sip all day.
- Consistency is key. Don't think you can guzzle a gallon at night to catch up. Drink water throughout the day all day, every day.
- Prep your water jars before you go to bed each night.
Skip the sugary, chemical drinks, and apply rule #1 to your choice of beverages.
The very best way to keep up on your hydration is to spend 5 minutes each night prepping your water for the next day. Purchase 2-3 wide mouth mason jars (the bigger, the better) and fill them the night before. You can get a variety of fun lids on Amazon. Let them sit overnight to infuse the flavors and enjoy!
½ thin sliced cucumber
¼ cup mint leaves
½ cup sliced strawberries
Lemon, ginger, honey water - Detox
½ -1 lemon, squeezed if you don't like the bitter peel
1-inch ginger root sliced thin
1 Tbsp raw honey
Lavender, honey, lemon – Headaches and anxiety
1 drop of lavender essential oil
1 Tbsp honey ½ -1 lemon juiced
Mind Your Portion Sizes
While all calories are NOT created equal, it comes down to calories in, calories out at the end of the day. You do not necessarily have to count calories, but calories do count! Do not over complicate portion sizes.
Your protein should be about the size, and thickness, of the palm of your hand. Your carbs should be about the size of your tight fist, and your fats about the size of your thumb. This method is surprisingly accurate for your body size. Two exceptions are veggies and avocado. Veggies are unlimited, and a serving of avocado is ¼ to ½. Please keep it simple, keep it consistent, and keep yourself in check.
Like to weigh and measure your foods? That's 100% OK, but not necessary if you find it tedious. I do recommend keeping detailed measurements if you are working with a medical professional who requests it.
Follow these essential 5 rules, and you’ll be on your way to feeling great and reaching your goals.