A Better Diet Doesn’t Mean Worse Food

For the past few weeks we’ve discussed high intensity interval training (or HIIT, if you live the acronym life) whether that be on a treadmill, a bike, general calisthenics, or even in yoga. As we concluded with last week’s piece about a proper mindset, though, working out well isn’t the end all and be all of increasing and maintaining your fitness. To round out your fitness best, you need to eat well, too.

Since we’ve evolved from monkeys, there’s a primal desire in us to go ape (pun totally intended) physically. Remember the jungle gyms your mom told you to be careful on as a child? You swung away on them anyway, throwing yourself from rung to rung because it’s fun. Early on we’re hardwired to move, and exercising regularly affords us the opportunity to connect with the animalistic side of our nature.

Working out regularly, however good it is for you, is not enough to up your fitness game or give you that sexy bod you’ve always wanted. Combine that with the proper diet, though, and then you have something.

Eating better is often one of the more difficult challenges in maintaining a healthy physique and high fitness level. When there are amazing foods to try everywhere or it’s easy and relatively cheap to get fast food, or maybe your favorite Seamless joint is just an Apple Pay fingerprint away, it’s difficult to transform and sustain your diet into something healthier and more nutritious.

Fret not! Here are three ways you can transform your diet, not lose any flavor, and maybe save some cash along the way:

1) Cut the salt: You know all about water weight; it’s the annoying little flab on your love handles and arms that just won’t quit. No matter how much water you pee and sweat out, it never seems to be enough. The plot twist comes in the form of salt, the crystalline sleeper agent for flab. Salt retains the water you drink regardless of how much you excrete. Think of the last time you ate something salty, maybe McDonald’s fries. A few aren’t terrible, but by the end of a medium container, you’re jonesing for something to quench your thirst. All the salt intake dehydrated you; the salt within your body absorbs the water you drink, which makes it all the harder to lose that water weight. But by cutting the salt out of your diet, not only will you reduce the amount of water your body holds but you’ll have a better handle on that bad cholesterol as you age. Even if you’re a salt fiend, no worries: there are plenty of more flavorful seasonings like pepper, garlic powder, and cumin to liven up your meals.

2) Promote protein: We’re often more concerned with what we shouldn’t be eating rather than what we should. Oftentimes we’re cutting sugar or carbohydrates out of our diet to restrict fatty food intake, but we don’t replace this with the nutrients we need. In order to best feed your muscles and heal after your workouts, protein will rebuild and refuel you. This doesn’t mean you should go out and get a Baconator triple from Wendy’s; more meat does not equate necessarily to more protein. Seek to supplement your diet with almonds, eggs, tofu, and white meat or small cuts of lean steak. Adding seasoned brown rice and a great helping of sauteed spinach with garlic will make for a fantastic dinner!

3) Drink water and watch yourself bloom: Now that you’ve cut salt out of your diet, you can obtain the greatest benefits from drinking water. Not only will you be constantly hydrated, but your body will love you for it, glowing with the natural shine it’ll give your skin and rejuvenated after flushing out all of the toxins your body needs to excrete. By regularly drinking water instead of soda, juices, or sports drinks, you’ll reduce the amount of sugar you intake while keeping your body hydrated with the best possible liquid for it. On top of that, your body will become accustomed to excreting toxins more often and you’ll continue to pee out the bad and only keep the good.

It’s easy to give tips to improve your diet, but by no means is it simple to make the change. Transforming your diet is not just eating different foods but rather a complete lifestyle shift that takes time. You won’t perfect having a new diet in a of couple days, so the best thing to do is try your hardest to get to where you want to be by eating and drinking what makes you feel the healthiest and happiest.