Updated: May 16, 2022
People often ask the question, “What should I do to eat healthier?” And my answer is always the same, “It depends…”
For me what I eat depends on whether I work out that day. It depends on what type of workout I do, cardio, weight training, bootcamp, running, yoga, etc. and how long my workout will be. Also, it depends on what I’ve eaten the previous day or earlier the same day. It all depends.
Here are 10 very easy rules that I try to follow when I’m making decisions on how to eat healthier.
1- I consume around 1600-1700 calories and reduce my carbs on rest days (non-workout days). Why? Food is fuel for your body. The more energy you use, the more fuel you need. If I’m not going to work out then I’m not going to use very much energy which means I don’t need as much fuel.
2- I consume around 1800-2000 calories on workout days. Why? I’m going to burn 400-500 more calories than usual so I’m going to need more fuel for my body.
3- I increase my carb intake on days I do cardio and I increase my protein intake when I do weight training. Why? Carbs provide energy which I need for cardio. Likewise, protein helps muscle development, which I need when I lift weights.
4- Since I usually workout in the evening, I eat the majority of my carbs at breakfast and lunch. This will fuel up my body for my workout later in the day.
5- Unless I know I’m going to workout in the morning, I never eat carbs after I workout.
6- I rarely eat junk food. No chips, cookies, candy, fried food, cake, etc. This used to be hard until I did a No Sugar Challenge that help me change my eating habits.
7- I don’t drink fruit juice and minimize other high calorie drinks, except alcohol. Why? These are calories that are easy to eliminate from my diet and help me stay within my calorie intake. Unless a drink has some health benefit such as coconut water or milk, I don’t drink it.
8- I eat complex carbs (brown rice, oatmeal, fruits, whole grains, etc.) instead of simple carbs (refined sugar, white rice, white bread, fruit juices, etc.). Why? Complex Carbohydrates explains that both simple and complex carbohydrates turn into glucose in the body and are used as energy. Once that glucose is stored it turns into fat. Your body processes complex carbs slower, which gives you more time to use the energy over time before it is stored as fat. Read Good Carbs, Bad Carbs to learn more about what carbs to eat.
9- I only eat chicken, turkey, seafood and lamb. Unfortunately, I don’t digest beef well.
10- Sometimes I take a break and I break the rules. Why? It can become overwhelming and stressful tracking your diet. Life is no fun if you live by rules ALL the time. It’s important to take time to relax and enjoy food.
I don’t recommend this diet for anyone, this is what works for me. But I do encourage you to use this information to make adjustments to your own diet so that you can improve your eating habits, eat healthier and achieve your fitness goals.