Get going with a healthy diet

A healthy diet not only helps keep the waistline trim, it also gives you inner energy to help get you moving. Fuel your body with healthy foods to sleep better, reduce your risk of disease, and feel that get-up-and-go you’ve been searching for!

For people seeking weight loss, a healthy diet and exercise are almost always the first prescriptions. When people hear this, some will justify unhealthy eating choices by adding in extra exercise.

What they don’t realize, however, is that eating healthy would give them more energy to exercise in the first place. That umph, the “dig deep” type motivation, is often not a product of a person’s grit, but of their diet. A healthy diet impacts not only the waistline, but overall energy levels, sleep quality, and the “get-up-and-go” that helps us exercise.

What is a healthy diet? With infinite trendy diets on the market, it can be hard to decide which one is the best to follow. But diets aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all. They should be individualized to a person’s genetic predispositions, personal goals, and flavor preferences. For instance, a person who is at high risk for getting heart disease may benefit from eating a Mediterranean diet. If the person doesn’t like seafood, however, it may not be the right fit.

The USDA provides a Healthy Eating Index (HEI) for Americans that breaks down food into healthy components. This includes fruits, vegetables, plant protein, and fatty acids, among others. Items that are suggested to be consumed in moderation are refined grains, sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats. This can help someone who is trying to eat healthier and improve energy levels by giving them an objective measure for food health.

Healthy eating promotes much more than just a healthy weight. When people nourish their bodies, their bodies reward them with the energy and vitality to get through a busy day. In addition, healthy eating can improve sleep quality, which allows for improved digestion, brain function, and tissue healing. Ever planned to go to the gym after work but felt too sluggish by the end of the day? If you’d packed a banana with nut butter for a mid-afternoon snack, you’d probably still have the sustained energy you needed to exercise.

On the contrary, unhealthy eating promotes more than just an unhealthy weight. The human body was designed to store extra calories for as long as possible to prevent starvation in times of famine. When we eat empty calories or calorie-dense food that lacks nutrients, our brains signal us to stop hunting and rest because we’re full. However, the body still lacks the nutrients it was craving, so the hunger cycle starts again.

Since human brains were not wired to live in a world where food is abundant, this signaling does not turn off when the threat of starvation is no longer present. The result? More eating, less exercise. This cycle can cause poor sleep habits, altered hormone function, and more serious conditions like diabetes over time.

A healthy diet is vital for feeling that get-up-and-go kind of energy. If you put good things into your body, you’ll feel the power to put good things out into the world. Next time you’re reaching for the coffee to get you going, try eating a healthy breakfast first!

References
1.Chaput JP. Sleep patterns, diet quality and energy balance. Physiol Behav. 2014;134:86-91. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.09.006

2. Rees K, Takeda A, Martin N, et al. Mediterranean-style diet for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;3(3):CD009825. Published 2019 Mar 13. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009825.pub

3. https://www.fns.usda.gov/hei-scores-americans

4. Carlson A, Frazão E. Food costs, diet quality and energy balance in the United States. Physiol Behav. 2014;134:20-31. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.03.001

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