So you want to lose weight, increase muscle mass, or just be healthier. Sounds easy enough, right? With all the conflicting information surrounding “what is healthy,” maybe not. Here are five top health tips to live by.
BMI Isn’t Always the Best Tool
You’ve probably heard that knowing your BMI (body mass index) is the starting point for losing weight or assessing your fitness goals. That isn’t necessarily true. BMI is meant to rank people according to levels of obesity. It does not, however, decipher how much of a person’s weight comes from fat, lean body mass, and bone density. Therefore a person with strong bones, good muscle tone and low fat could have a high BMI. Does that mean they should lose weight? Absolutely not. In a nutshell, BMI is most useful when assessing individuals who do not follow a consistent exercise regimen and healthy eating plan.
Carbs are Good
When you want to drop a few pounds or just eat healthier in general, it’s tempting to eliminate carbs entirely. This comes as no surprise, seeing that “low-carb diets” have been a popular way to lose weight for years. I’ve got news for you: you need carbs. In fact, 45-65% of all daily food intake and calories should be from this macronutrient (if you’re inactive or sedentary, stick to 45%. If you’re exercising daily, you can be closer to 65%). That doesn’t mean pancakes, cookies and bagels. There are plenty of carbs out there that are actually considered healthy. The key is knowing what they are, how much to eat and when. Focus on eating whole grains and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
You Need to Eat Fat
Let’s face it. Fat has a bad rap. Even the word has a bad connotation. Fat. Like carbs, fat is another essential macronutrient no matter what your goals. Also like carbs, it’s important to know which fats to eat, when to consume them and how much. Healthy fats are all around us, and can be found in foods such as nuts, fish, avocado, eggs and oils. Even butter is an acceptable form of healthy fat in moderation! While others may be living in a fat-free world – you shouldn’t be. Consider these healthy benefits of consuming fats:
- Fat is a source of energy and you need it during workouts
- Some essential fats, like omega-3s, cannot be produced by the body alone, so they must be consumed via diet
- Fat supports nerve and brain function
Quality Over Quantity
Counting calories works as a weight loss tool for many people. But it’s not the only way to make sure you’re eating a healthy amount of food. What you eat is just as important as how much. For example, could you lose weight eating 1,500 calories worth of cookies, potato chips and cake each day? You sure could. But it wouldn’t be wise because these are low quality foods – which are associated with a slower metabolism, increased insulin production, nutrition deficiencies and harmful chemical reactions. Choose whole, raw and unprocessed foods as much as possible. But keep in mind quantity still matters, and even the consumption of healthy foods can cause weight gain.
Related Post: The New Diet That’s Not a Diet At All
Water is the Most Important Nutrient
No brainer? Yes. Do I still feel the need to emphasize it? Obviously. While we’re all well aware of the importance of water, the fact of the matter is most of us are not getting enough of it. Here’s some food for thought: feeling thirsty is a sign of mild dehydration. So when you’re feeling parched, that’s a sure sign that it’s time to drink. Certain foods can support hydration as well – such as lettuce and watermelon. In fact, food accounts for about 30% of your daily fluid intake!