Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is key to leading a healthy lifestyle. With so much information available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of dietary advice out there. In this blog, we’ll simplify things for you by focusing on three effective steps you can take to improve your diet: incorporating adequate protein, exploring intermittent fasting, and managing your sugar intake.
Protein is often referred to as the building block of life, and for good reason. It plays a crucial role in repairing tissues, building muscles, and supporting overall bodily functions. Incorporating sufficient protein into your diet can aid in weight management, boost metabolism, and help you feel fuller for longer.
The average adult needs around 50 grams of protein a day. And if you’re trying to add muscle mass to your frame, you may need to double or triple that intake, so your protein intake mirrors your weight (if 120 pounds for example, you’d aim for 120 grams of protein).
Lean sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, and tofu are excellent options. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, focus on combining different plant-based protein sources to ensure you’re getting a variety of essential amino acids.
Excess sugar consumption has been linked to a host of health problems, ranging from inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer, to obesity and diabetes. Sugar intake can also result in significant hormonal problems for men and women.
While it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, you can certainly take steps to manage your intake. Start by reading food labels to identify hidden sugars in products. Opt for whole fruits instead of sugary snacks, and choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains over refined ones. Gradually reduce the amount of added sugar in your coffee, tea, and recipes to allow your taste buds to adjust to less sweetness.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, consider this. A growing body of research has shown evidence that sugar shrinks your hippocampus, which is your memory center. So the next time you have a sugar craving, think about how it may literally shrink your brain cells!
Harvard geneticist and Lifespan author David Sinclair, PhD who has spent 25 years studying aging, says that if there’s one piece of advice he would offer, it’s to eat less often.
A 2019 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that fasting can improve metabolic function and protect you against the diseases of aging—like cancers, heart diseases, and diabetes—by promoting the production of certain proteins in the body.
In animal models, intermittent fasting is shown to aid in weight loss, reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, improve metabolic function, and quite substantially increase longevity.
There are several approaches to fasting. For example, you could skip breakfast and have a late lunch, fasting for a period of at least 14-16 hours from your last meal to your first meal of the day.. Another approach is to eat 75% fewer calories two days each week.
During fasting, the body shifts from using glucose to using stored fat as its primary energy source, entering the process of autophagy.
I prefer to do my fast between 8pm and 12 noon the next day, providing me with a 16-hour fast. On some days, I eat one meal per day, typically a lunch. What you eat when you break your fast is also important. I typically opt for a protein shake or vegetables with a lean source of protein.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained significant attention in recent years due to its potential benefits for both weight loss and overall health. IF involves alternating periods of eating and fasting, which can help regulate insulin levels, promote cellular repair, and encourage fat burning.
Before starting any fasting regimen, consult with a healthcare professional to discuss what method will best suit your individual needs.
Improving your diet doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By focusing on these three steps—prioritizing protein intake, managing sugar, and exploring intermittent fasting—you can make significant strides toward a healthier lifestyle. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your body. Small changes can lead to big results, and your journey to better health begins with the choices you make every day. Always consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making major changes to your diet to ensure they align with your individual health needs.