Freshman 15? Sophomore 16? Not if you keep these things in mind. Winter is fast approaching and with it, the tendency to bulk up in preparation for hibernation, but you can avoid that. The trick: paying attention to those nutrients. By keeping these three simple nutrition facts in mind, you can actually say you kept one of your New Year’s resolutions (well, maybe).
Complex Carbs Are Your Friends
Guess what? It’s ok to eat carbs. You don’t need to go on a non-carb diet to lose or maintain weight, or just be simply healthy. Did I just hear a sigh of relief?
Carbohydrates keep you energized during the day, and nourish your brain and nervous system. Ever feel tired while studying? It’s probably because your energy sources are low (or you’re hungover from last night’s wild rave). But don’t grab for those chips just yet. Carbohydrates can be divided into two subcategories: simple and complex carbs.
It’s the complex carbs you want to be aiming for. Simple carbs release energy quicker, as they are quickly digestible and rapidly increase blood sugar. That’s why when you eat cookies, candy, anything with white flour, and packaged cereal, you get an immediate boost of energy followed by a crash. This is not what we’re aiming for.
When planning a healthy diet, it’s better to stay focused on foods such as whole wheat, Greek yogurt, grains, and some veggies and fruits. These are complex carbs, which take a little longer to digest, but keep you feeling satisfied.
#SpoonTip: Fruits and veggies contain the carbohydrate fiber, which has a lot of health benefits and is great for digestion, too. So pack in as much of them as you can.
In general, your meals should contain complex carbs, rather than simple carbs, since by keeping you full, they will reduce snacking. Great breakfast carbs are oatmeal, Greek yogurt, whole wheat toast and fruit. For lunch and dinner — whole wheat pasta, various beans, and veggies.
#SpoonTip: It is good to have a small amount of healthy simple carbs in the morning such as most fruits and a drizzle of honey to give a boost for the day.
Go Lean Or Go Home
Every balanced diet needs protein. Exercise bunnies and sport buffs will know how important it is to keep your protein levels high, but what about us sedentary folks? No worries, you won’t have to become a vegetarian.
Protein is great, because it maintains and restores muscle. The only problem is that our bodies can’t store protein. That means if we don’t use it, it goes right to the hips. Yup, unused protein turns into fat. However, some protein is good for you and the more you exercise, the more you need of it.
The leaner your meat is, the less fat. That’s why chicken is a healthier protein option than beef in this regard. Protein has the added benefit of keeping you full as well. So a decent amount of protein with your meals is another good way to keep you out of the snack drawer.
Breakfast proteins include eggs and cheese, and for the rest of your meals, a good slice of meat suffices. If you’re a vegetarian, load up on beans, nuts and seeds. You shouldn’t need to eat meat for both lunch and dinner, so mix it up a bit.
Fats Are Necessary, But Don’t Overdo It
We do need fats in our diet to stay healthy, because they are our economical way to store energy, and fulfill a lot of our body’s needs. In that case, bring out the fatty foods.
Of course, no one should overdo it. In fact, it’s inadvisable to eat a large amount of fatty foods for lunch, as that leads to the well-known food coma. Because fats are slow to digest, our body focuses most of our energy on digesting and shuts the rest of our body down for a small afternoon nap.
Another reason to choose chicken (without the skin) or fish over beef is because red meat carries a lot of saturated fat, which is bad for cholesterol levels. Good fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are the ones you should be focusing on.
These healthy fats include avocado, olives, nuts, and peanut butter. Can I get a hell yeah for guilt-free peanut butter eating? The fats you should tend to stay away form are butter, cheese, ice cream, and fried food. I feel like I just crushed some dreams.
One more thing to keep in mind is — your meals should get smaller throughout the day. This way, you’re fully energized for your day and satisfied enough to sleep through the night without feeling uber full. Eating too much heavy food at night can mess with your digestion and leave you sleepless.
Having written all this down for your delight and health benefit, remember the main point is moderation is key. Depending on your workout schedule, diet, and walk between classes, you can eat more or less of these required groups.
Also, never say no to a cupcake, just because it’s a simple carb. I know I won’t.