Someone is always looking for that magic pill. As a nutritionist and a personal trainer, I am often asked, “What do I need to eat to lose weight.” That’s a question with a long answer, if you want the right answer. Unfortunately, a lot of people try to capitalize on the short, wrong answer. They buy pills and potions to try to reduce cellulite, lose weight or “block” carbohydrate absorption.
Sorry folks; you know me: I won’t be endorsing any of that. But I will tell you one diet change that you can make today to improve your health, your weight over time and your athletic performance. Whether you’re a hard-core marathoner, a weekend warrior or you’re just getting started with your physical activity, this is one trick you’ll want up your sleeve.
Eat your fruits and veggies.
Yes, it’s that simple. It’s difficult to get too much produce in your diet; downright impossible really, because once you’ve reached your own limit, you will develop a few … ahem, digestive problems. But a solid five to 12 servings a day never hurt anyone.
Before you panic, a serving of fruits or veggies is actually quite small. A banana is two, a fist-sized piece of fruit is one, ½ a cup of juice is one, and two dried apricots is one. One half cup of cooked or one cup of raw chopped veggies is also a serving. So if you eat a banana and have a small glass of orange juice at breakfast, a side salad and a sandwich with tomato slices at lunch, an apple for a snack and a baked potato and a cup of broccoli at dinner, you’ve had 10 servings. It’s that easy.
So now you know the how, but why? Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins such as vitamins A, C, K and B vitamins. They contain potassium (absolutely essential for any athlete) and magnesium as well as many other important minerals. In addition to that, they provide a good dose of fiber which is crucial for keeping the digestive system healthy and they’re full of different types of antioxidants (substances that help fight off diseases like cancer).
Still not convinced? They taste amazing and are always available in some form. You don’t need to buy tons of exotic sounding fruits and veggies; stick with what’s available. Of course, be willing to try new ones occasionally. At the store, pick one fruit or veggie you’ve never tried and take it home to sample. Type it in at foodnetwork.com and you’ll get a slew of recipes that feature it if you don’t know how to make heads or tails of its use.
Also, by getting those five to 12 servings a day, you’ll be unique. According to the Centers for Disease Control (the CDC), in 2005 32.6 percent of the U.S. adult population ate the absolute minimum (two) servings of fruit suggested per day and 27.2 percent of the population at the minimum (three) servings of veggies. So many people are missing out on an easy, healthful diet. Don’t be one of them!