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Healthy eating plan

By Darren O'Toole | In Health | on February 19, 2014

Getting in shape, feeling better about yourself and becoming fitter and avoiding injuries all require a well-structured and varied training programme but they also need to have a solid nutritional base. Nutrition can be a tricky topic with so many different people saying different things. Your nutritional requirements will also differ depending on your overarching goals. However for most people who know little about nutrition and wish to adopt a healthy eating plan, I’ve devised a simple five step plan which is straight forward, easy-to-follow and will make you feel happier and healthier.

Give them a go and see how you get on.

1. Always eat a breakfast – this is non-negotiable

Your body responds to not eating for hours and hours by slowing down its metabolic rate. By eating breakfast, you wake up your metabolism. Researchers have repeatedly shown that people who eat breakfast have a better chance of losing weight, and keeping it off. When you skip meals, you’re more likely to snack on sweets – giving you wasted calories and insulin spikes.

2. Consume a minimum of three meals per day

Include protein in each of the three meals. Proteins are needed for all tissue repair, critical enzymes and hormones you need for all of your metabolic functions, and antibodies that help your body defend against infections. Essentially, the more you train – the more your muscles are breaking down and need to be rebuilt to come back stronger. If you don’t have enough protein, this won’t happen and you’ll get ill to boot!

Foods high in protein:

  • All meats – but for lean meats (low in fat), choose turkey steaks and chicken breasts
  • Eggs – particularly the egg white are hugely high in protein – very good source and if you boil them the night before, they can be an easy source of breakfast.
  • Beans – Kidney beans, white beans, black beans (not baked beans) all have high protein content – can be chucked in a salad.
  • Milk
  • Nuts – almonds, cashews, peanuts (not salted or flavoured) give you a fabulous source of proteins as snacks.
  • Seeds – sunflower, sesame, flax – like the nuts, these can be used as a decent snack source.
  • Cheese – although too much of this and it is quite fatty.

Also think about things like quinoa and cous cous as an accompaniment to a salad to top it up with useful proteins and carbs.

3. Try to substitute white for brown wherever possible

Wholemeal things have less processed sugars and more fibre, ensuring that a simple pasta meal with chicken and homemade sauce is more controlled in your blood sugar reaction.
You really want to keep blood sugar stable – average blood sugar rises gradually and as it rises there is damage occurring throughout the body. Out of control blood sugar levels can lead to serious short term problems such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or diabetic ketoacidosis.
In the long run, uncontrolled blood sugar can also damage the vessels that supply blood to important organs, like the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. This can occur even when you feel OK.

4. Two cheat days with sweets – avoid processed sweets (chocolate, crisps, sweets, fizzy drinks) for 5 days per week.

5. Alcohol – again a maximum of 2 cheat days per week and 1 full week each month where you are dry.

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