When it comes to staying healthy, proper nutrition should be a priority. Whether looking to stay in shape, get back into shape, shed a few pounds, or keep your immune system boosted before winter arrives, a suitable diet and nutrition plan is essential.
Often overlooked by some gym-goers, nutrition is key in achieving your fitness goals. Making sure your muscles are getting enough protein after exercise ensures the benefits from your workout will last.
Nutrition Is Key
Absolutely. But radically changing up your diet can be tricky, not to mention expensive if you’re not sure what kind of meals and plan you should be aiming for. Some people opt for a healthy and cheat day alternation, while others rely on pre-emptive meal and snack prepping to ensure they’ll be eating balanced meals.
For those interested in getting into the meal prepping craze, read our blog with some suggestions for a week of meal prepping here.
This is all great, but what if you’re not ready for a radical upheaval of all of your eating habits yet?
At Beckwith Health Club, we believe any step in the right direction is something to be encouraged. This can mean starting your fitness journey with short, infrequent trips to the gym and gradually building up to more frequent exercise. Or, when it comes to nutrition, beginning to edge healthier foods into your diet bit by bit.
There are many small adjustments you can make to your diet to easily shave off some of your worst eating habits. This is where food swapping comes in!
Food swapping is essentially swapping out some of the bad food you regularly consume for healthier alternatives. As you are easing these into your diet as replacement food, instead of cutting out food groups altogether, it is a great way of improving your nutrition without committing to a massive overhaul of your diet.
Many of the foods we all commonly consume, such as butter, pasta and bread can be swapped out for healthier alternatives without you having to go without these delicious household staples.
Below is a list of five common food items and their healthier alternatives for you to incorporate into your diet. Let’s check them out!
Bread, Pasta, Rice
Bread, pasta and rice are easy staples to replace. Most of us will eat any one of the three food items weekly, if not daily. The bad news is, they’re not very good for us. Many variants of these can be high in calories and low in nutritional value. Not to mention, these are often heavily processed foods and have a sneakily high sugar content.
But not to worry! The good news is, they’ve all got easy to find, delicious, healthier alternatives. Opt for the whole grain bread, pasta and rice to gain in nutritional value and lose in calories! Multigrain bread is also an excellent addition of nutrient-rich grains and seeds into your diet.
Butter is amazing: on that we can all agree. However, if you find yourself cooking with it frequently, or using large amounts of butter when you cook, you could be unnecessarily harming your cholesterol levels, which can become dangerous.
Luckily, there are so many delicious alternatives for cooking with. Why not swap the butter out for coconut or olive oil, and diversify your diet (and palate) while avoiding the damage to your cholesterol levels?
This one can be especially useful to keep children from consuming too much sugar. While we all love a nice cold fizzy drink every now and then, it’s packed with sugar and chemicals, and has absolutely no positive effect on our health. While this is definitely one to avoid if you are trying to keep your sugar intake low, it would be a shame to stick to water only.
Not to mention, a ten year-old’s birthday party without fizzy drinks would be a sad affair.
For a good, healthy swap: mix fresh fruit juice (not packaged or processed) with sparkling water. Not only will you have the benefits of fresh fruit juice (although remember this is also packed with natural sugars, so not one to have on the regular!), you also get a delicious, guilt-free drink!
Plain Old Sugar
If you like your morning tea or coffee sweet, you could be unnecessarily damaging your nutrition by adding that spoonful of sugar every day. Not only does this have a negative impact on your teeth, added up over time, a spoonful or more of sugar a day will keep you hooked on sugary snacks and drinks.
Honey, though still high in natural sugars, is a good substitute for sugar in warm drinks. A small squeeze of honey in a cup of coffee or tea won’t be enough to alter the flavour, but will sweeten the drink in a less damaging way than granulated, processed sugar.
Ah, chocolate. A fan favourite. Especially coming up to Christmas, cupboards all around the country will be stocked up with this delicious treat. Unfortunately, it’s terrible for us. High in sugars and calories, with few and far benefits in between, chocolate and other sweets can majorly contribute to obesity numbers.
What’s great about chocolate, however, is that it’s easily replaceable. If you’re looking for a sugar fix, you can switch to dark or cooking chocolate. Much lower in sugars than milk or white chocolate, dark chocolate also has a few health benefits when consumed in moderation.
If dark chocolate isn’t for you, why not try adding dried fruit into your diet? Sweeter and easier to have around than fresh fruit, dried fruit can be delicious treat and a great sugar fix which isn’t as high in processed sugars than its chocolatey alternatives.
So Many Options!
There are many healthier alternatives than you can swap into your diet. Much like switching from the lift to the stairs, these seemingly small changes in your daily routine will contribute to improving your health and fitness overall.
Remember, diet and exercise go hand in hand: one without the other won’t produce the results you’re looking for. What matters most is finding what works for you and focusing on achieving the results you are aiming for.
As always, the team at Beckwith Health Club is more than happy to help advise you! If you have any questions on nutrition, please don’t hesitate to ask our excellent staff!