Updated: Oct 11, 2020
With so much temptation I often find maintaining my healthy eating habits a challenge. In this entry I share some of the daily tips and tricks I use to stay on track.
6-8 glasses per day or 3 to 4 litres. It sounds like a lot but water is essential to keep everything working as it should, however reaching this target can be difficult.
Tips and Tricks:
Take a 1l water bottle, place three elastic bands around it and for each refill remove a band, this way you can easily keep track and the countdown can be a motivator; thank you AthleanX for this side note in one of your videos.
Tea, Fruit Tea and Coffee also count, being British I drink plenty of the former;
Limit the alternatives, i.e. remove the temptation, especially sugary drinks such as juices and soda.
Don’t buy it in the first place…...but have an alternative on hand!
I know that if I have chocolate in the fridge, cake on the side or honey coated cereal in the cupboard I will eat it, whether I am hungry or not.
To avoid temptation I:
Don’t buy it in the first place creating hurdle number 1, the effort needed to go and buy it when a craving strikes;
Have a healthier alternative to hand, so that when the craving strikes you can delay it until your next meal;
Healthy alternative personal favourites
Fresh chilled fruit;
The darkest of the dark chocolate I can find, 90% cocoa, it’s so bitter one small square is enough (beware high fat content so keep the portion size small);
Popcorn seeds, a great filler food that is low in calories but hits the spot to cure the hunger;
A cup of tea, it’s great for taking my mind off things;
What gets measured gets improved….especially carbs!
Ok, I’m not suggesting to go out and measure every piece of food you eat, whilst good for a short period to monitor diet it is difficult to consistently measure our food over prolonged periods; I have tried and failed on many occasions. One macronutrient I always try and measure however is carbohydrates; mainly bread, rice, oats, potatoes and pasta to name the most common in my cupboard.
When I started measuring my intake I was amazed at just how dominated my meals were by carbs; they are often so dense you just don’t realise how quickly the amounts stack-up.
Referring to the helpful NHS EatWell guide, carbs should make up around 1/3rd of our plate per meal. Personally, I aim for 70-80g per meal but this is just me based on my training goals, depending on yours and how often you eat per day, the amount shall differ.
The takeaway message is to check the balance of your meals, in particular with carbs, to ensure it’s all in proportion. An app such as MyFitnessPal is an excellent tool to easily measure your meals over a few days to gauge your dietary intake and, importantly, macronutrient proportions.
Filler Foods…...Great if you have a snacking habit.
Filler foods are those with a low calorie content with the added benefit of making you feel fuller for longer, the solution when trying to avoid overeating whilst feeling the need to eat.
To use some criteria from Healthline filler foods are often:
High in Protein
High in Fibre
High in Volume
Have a low energy density
Some of my favourite filler foods include:
Popcorn (great fun to make too)
Greek Yoghurt/Quark, lesser fat and higher protein
Quinoa and Oats, they are carbs but complex and therefore healthier
What I do in terms of diet when:
I’m looking to gain muscle.
Adhere to a bulking diet, achieving a daily calorie surplus beyond what is considered enough to maintain my current physique. I use a total daily energy expenditure calculator to work this out.
Plan meals that are roughly 600 calories each and eat these as often as is necessary to hit my calorie target; currently 3,500 so 6 meals per day.
Meal prep to know what has gone into my food and to save time of having to cook every day.
Place an emphasis upon protein over carbs, achieving 600 calories per meal with just 70-80g of carbs, in reality this means more meat or for smaller meals the use of pure whey protein powder often in the form of protein infused overnight oats.
I’m looking to lose weight.
Adhere to a cutting diet, entering a calorie deficit, usually around 500 calories less than the maintenance level.
Cut my meals to a more standard 3 per day cycle making heavy use of filler foods and the snacking alternatives (mainly fruit, popcorn and veggies) to counteract cravings.
Please Note: This article does not constitute professional dietary guidance, always seek professional advice before making significant dietary changes.