- Eat every 2-4 hours: The average American eats 3 meals a day with snacks in between. If this sounds like you're eating pattern, try switching to eating a meal every 2-4 hours. By feeding your body regularly throughout the day, it will stimulate your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and help maintain your lean mass. This is especially important for highly active individuals.
- Eat a complete, lean protein with every meal (feeding opportunity): Examples of a lean protein include meats, fish, eggs, and low fat dairy products (string cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt), protein supplements, and vegetarian soy and tofu options. If your goals are to lose body fat and/or increase muscle mass, your daily protein intake may be too low if you're following the USDA Food Pyramid. Eating a complete protein with every meal will help make sure that you are getting enough protein to meet your goals.
- Eat vegetables with every feeding opportunity: Besides making sure that you're getting your vitamins and minerals, eating vegetables helps balance the acidity of your blood. Proteins and grains carry an acidic load into your blood stream, that could lead to a loss of bone strength and muscle mass. Vegetables provide an alkaline load to keep balance out that acidity.
- Consuming "other carbs" only after exercise: Do you love your bread, pasta, rice, or other high carbohydrate foods and not wanting to cut them out of your diet? Two things. First, make sure to stick with the whole-grain varieties. And second, only eat them 1-2 hours after exercising.
- Eat healthy fats daily: Your daily diet should consist of 30% fat. The fat intake should be balanced between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats (1/3 each). This will help optimize your overall health and body composition. So quit avoiding fat like the plaque and start incorporating it in every meal!
New to eating clean or ever wonder when you should eat your meals? Here are 5 healthy eating habits that will help improve your nutrient timing, calorie control, and food selection.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CFNS, is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He is the Immediate Past President of the Autism Society of Oregon's Board of Directors and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, as well as by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) as a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Ryan has worked with children with special needs since 2007 and has over 10,000 hours of 1:1 instruction working with individuals that have various special needs.