Here are seven of the most significant habits you will need to develop in order to be a leaner, healthier eater
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1. Breakfast: every morning. Breakfast sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you're not eating breakfast, start making it a point to do so every day. You will be less hungry throughout the rest of the day and less likely to binge on snacks or overeat at other meals.
2. Eat throughout the day (every three or four hours). The timing of when you eat is highly important. You shouldn't eat based solely on hunger. If you eat small meals throughout the day and have healthy snacks (Greek yogurt, nuts, etc.), you will be less likely to give into the temptation of splurging on pizza, fries and other junk food.
3. All calories are not the same. Calorie counting is not the most important thing in the world. Eating 500 calories of grass-fed beef or wild caught salmon is not the same as eating 500 calories of potato chips. The former is rich in essential nutrients and protein, the latter has no nutritional benefit and will leave you still hungry an hour later.
4. Write it down. Keep a food log. Know what you eat. If you can chart your progress, you can know where you're going wrong, where you're doing well, and how you can make adjustments to be more successful.
5. Protein, Produce, Protein, Produce. It's time to trim the inessential carbs. Protein is a major muscle building source, and foods that are high in protein leave you satisfied for longer than high-carb foods. Eating protein will help boost your metabolism. As for produce, well, you have always been told to eat fruits and vegetables and that hasn't changed. Produce is essential for feeling full, meeting your daily requirements of vitamins and nutrients, and for burning fat for good.
6. Cut out the sugar. Sugar is the biggest source of weight gain for most people. Whether it's in your breakfast cereal, candy, soft drinks or added to your coffee, sugar will mess with your insulin levels, slow your metabolism, and cause you to pack on the pounds. Avoid it.
7. Eat or drink after workouts. When you do weight training, you need to eat and/or drink soon after a workout. Getting your body the fuel it needs is essential to having a good metabolism and building lean muscle mass.
Don't sweat the details at the expense of putting forth the effort. Too many restrictive diets suck all the joy out of eating. They only leave you craving more, and you wind up binge eating. Make a consistent effort to incorporate clean eating into your lifestyle, and don't get bogged down counting calories, watching points or any of the other fluff diet nonsense that can sidetrack you.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net for more information.