Do you remember being in health class and learning the food pyramid that suggested you eat 6-11 serving of grains per day? This may be useful to highly athletic individuals but based on today’s standard of physical activity, anyone who ate this many starchy and sometimes processed carbohydrates would be seriously obese. Let me build a new pyramid for you starting with the base:
WHOLE FOODS, MEAL REPLACEMENT/PROTEIN SHAKES, PROTEIN BARS, PERFORMANCE SUPPLEMENTS/ VITAMINS.
WHOLE FOODS are foods which are natural and healthy; anything that you can find in nature. This includes all fruits/vegetables, nuts, natural sugars, grains, meat, eggs, dairy, etc. This would not include processed food or fast food. Of course you can find healthy options at a restaurant or fast food joint but the likelihood is that it is packed full of fat, sodium, and sugar so it is best to try and to prepare your own food. If you are eating out at a restaurant, make sure to request “no butter, no salt” on all your food. Most restaurants put both on all of their items to amplify the taste; even on their steaks and broccoli. When you start making healthy choices for your diet you, more often than not, will start cooking your own foods more regularly and will save hundreds of dollars in the process.
MEAL REPLACEMENT/PROTEIN SHAKES/PROTEIN BARS are intended to “replace” whole food meals when you do not have the time to eat one. Remember that it is always better to eat “real” food as opposed to quick protein sources. The general rule for protein bars is to find a bar that is 30-50 percent protein by weight. For example, if the protein bar weighs 100 grams, it should contain at least 30 to 50 grams of protein. Remember not all protein bars are the same. Many are super high in sugar, sodium, fat, and saturated fat. It is important you read the labels on all protein bars and shakes to make sure you are choosing the healthiest option. When choosing a protein shake, make sure there are at least 20 grams of protein per serving, it is low in fat and sodium, high in fiber, and is free of maltodextrin and artificial coloring.
PERFORMANCE SUPPLEMENTS are supplements such as pre workout drinks, endurance drinks, energy drinks, diuretics, and any other supplements aiding in performance ability, muscle building, fat loss, etc. They are great when working in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise but are not recommended for use when not training. For example, it is not healthy to constantly be drinking sugar free Red Bulls when you sit in an office all day and are not able to release that energy. It is also important to increase your daily water intake while on any performance supplements as they are very hard on your liver and kidneys. A good rule for water intake is at least 1 gallon per day.
VITAMINS are recommended for everyone, regardless of your daily intake of nutrients from your diet. It helps to have a daily vitamin to make up for what you are missing in your diet or to just fill in a couple gaps here and there. No matter how healthy you are, taking a multivitamin every morning with breakfast is recommended.
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