Many of us have made a commitment to ourselves and our families to adopt a healthier lifestyle. That means not overindulging in food, tobacco, or alcohol; exercising regularly; and watching what we eat. But lots of people are structuring their nutrition based on erroneous assumptions, which actually hinders them from accomplishing their health-related goals.
Are you making these common nutrition mistakes?
1. Eating bars, drinking shakes, or consuming other "fake" food. There's been a surge in the "meal replacement product" industry over the past several years. And while many of these products do contain some nutrients without a lot of calories, they're still processed foods with "fortified" nutrients that may also include excess sugar, salt, or other ingredients that aren't healthy. The basic truth is that nothing can "replace" a diet with real foods in their actual, unprocessed state.
2. Refusing to snack. In the early age of dieting, people were told to religiously avoid between-meal snacks if they wanted to lose weight. But modern research has determined that it is smart to eat something every three to four hours, even if it's just a snack, in order to maintain your blood sugar levels. Fluctuating blood sugar can increase hunger and fatigue and will actually have an adverse effect on your nutrition. Healthy snacks like cheese sticks, carrots, or rice cakes can avoid these problems.
3. Cutting out carbs at the wrong time of day. It's true that reducing the amount of carbohydrates you consume is an integral part of good nutrition. However, there are certain times when your body needs a shot of carbs, like just after a hard workout or playing sports. Eating carbs after exercising can reduce your future carb cravings, contribute to growth hormone production to repair damaged muscles, and provide stores of carbs as glycogen for use in the next day's workout.
4. Cutting out protein. If you read some of the fashion magazines, they'll imply (or even say outright) that consuming less protein will keep your weight down. In actuality, your body needs protein to feel full, recuperate from exercise, and regulate its metabolism. The truth is, you really should consume some protein every time you eat. So instead of grabbing a serving of yogurt, a dozen nuts, or a piece of fruit as a snack, opt for an egg, salad, or celery stick instead.
5. Eating larger amounts of "healthier" foods. It's smart to make changes in your diet like low-fat cheese, whole wheat bread, and low-calorie crackers. But these changes won't help if you insist on eating more of these foods. Wolfing down a box of low-cal snacks is still going to make you gain weight. In other words, practicing portion control is always a key aspect of eating healthy.
6. Not drinking enough water. Even though recent studies have somewhat debunked the "eight glasses of water per day" axiom, it's still important to stay hydrated throughout the day – and drinking water is the best way to do that. This is especially true right after exercising rigorously; remember that thirst is the body's way of telling you that you are already hydration-deficient. In other words, refusing to drink water until you are thirsty is like not locking your doors until your
home alarm system goes off. In addition, substituting water for juices or sodas reduces caloric intake, cuts down on sugar consumption, and increases the efficiency of both toxin flushing from organs and nutrient delivery to cells.
7. Skipping breakfast. Yes, we've all heard about why it's a bad idea to forgo "the most important meal of the day." But many of us still do it because of time constraints or a lack of hunger in the mornings. It's important to keep in mind that you getting proper nutrition means eating to prepare your body for the next few hours, not to replenish the emptiness brought on by the last few hours. Eating a smart breakfast has been shown to boost metabolism, facilitate fat burning, and even improve hand-eye coordination. So don't go without breakfast if you want to stay healthy – and a cup of coffee by itself doesn't count!