Five Factors for Optimal Fitness – Healthy Eating

Nutrition has by far the greatest impact on fat loss, even more than exercise

Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

Eat a vegetable or fruit with every meal or snack

Healthy eating is vital to staying fit and healthy.

Nutrition has by far the greatest impact on fat loss, even more than exercise. Eating well allows you to increase your energy and to maintain lean muscle while reducing unwanted fat.

Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss

I prefer to use the term fat loss rather than weight loss because weight loss can come from any number of sources. You can lose weight by dehydration (water loss), losing lean muscle tissue or actually losing body fat.  

Any weight you lose due to water will be replaced as soon as you rehydrate adequately. Losing muscle mass will slow down your metabolism and actually hinder your weight management in the long term. So let’s be specific about what kind of weight we really want to lose, which is body fat.  

Diets, Diets Everywhere

The fact that there are thousands of diets listed with federal agencies proves that no one diet works long term. If a magic diet for fat loss existed, everyone would be on it and no one would be overweight.  

The immediate success most people experience from fad diets is due to water loss, eating fewer calories or a combination of the two. However, less than five percent of these dieters are able to keep the weight off. Diets simply don’t work long term because of improper nutrition and the failure to change exercise and eating habits for life.

Sound nutrition can be mastered with some planning and organization. As with exercise, planning ahead can make all the difference to your health.

If you wait until you’re ravenous to find something to eat, you’ll grab the most convenient food, which usually won’t be a healthy choice. But if you plan and prepare your meals ahead of time you can make much better choices.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning your meals:

  • Your diet should consist mostly of real food. Like I tell my clients, if it’s a plant that grew or if it had parents, eat it. Minimize the processed food.
  • Eat a vegetable or fruit with every meal or snack.
  • To maintain stable blood sugar levels, eat every 2–3 hours.
  • Use the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80 per cent of the time and give yourself a break 20 per cent of the time.  
  • Have a mixture of carbohydrates, fats and protein with every meal.
  • Drink one to two litres of water each day.  

Read about the next factor for optimal fitness: sleep