If we want to see change in our lives, many times small gradual changes can be more sustainable than sudden drastic ones. We all need to eat every day and because of that the changes that we implement to our diet can have a significant impact on our health and performance. Here are a few simple key tips for altering your diet that can end up having significant positive impact.
Switch to wholegrains
A diet high in wholegrains has been associated for example with a lower risk for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity (1-2). Very simple practical things that you can do are to change:
- white rice, pasta and bread to wholegrain options
- processed and sweet breakfast cereals to oats or low-sugar natural muesli, and
- processed cakes and biscuits to homemade wholegrain options, or leave these out completely.
Eat some protein at every meal
There is a lot of talk about high protein diets these days and our recommendation is also for you to eat some protein with every meal. Research is showing that protein intake is linked to satiety and in that way it plays a very significant role in weight management (3). However, we want to encourage you to pay attention to the type of protein that you are eating. Avoid or minimize processed meats due to their high salt and food additive content and also keep your red meat consumption at a maximum of 500 g per week (4). In addition to meat and dairy products, good protein sources are also for example legumes and nuts, and it’s good to include these in your diet in order to avoid overconsumption of meat.
Drink lots of water
Water is essential for life and we need to stay hydrated in order to perform well and stay healthy. Even a small amount of dehydration has been shown to decrease athletic and cognitive performance and hydration is also linked to various health conditions (5). It also makes a big difference what we consume to stay hydrated. Switching juices, soft drinks and milk to water helps us to reduce our energy and sugar intake and therefore manage our weight. The general recommendation is to drink around 2-3 litres of water per day, but the individual requirements will vary based on for example the temperature and amount of sweating due to exercise.
Fill your plate with veggies
Eating sufficient amounts of vegetables is important for getting essential vitamins and nutrients that help to maintain good health and protect from illnesses. Having variety in the vegetables that are eaten is not just beneficial for health, but also increases overall consumption of vegetables. A study found that having several types of vegetables on the plate lead to higher overall vegetable consumption, when compared to having for example just one type of vegetable, even if it was the person’s favourite one (6). Eating lots of vegetables also helps to manage calorie intake as vegetables are generally not very energy dense foods. So fill your plate with healthy veggies and leave a little bit less space for other foods.
Try to start implementing these simple nutrition tips and see how they affect your health and energy levels. Achieving good health and performance does not have to be hard or complicated. It’s a matter of simple everyday choices.
Written by: Matti Kontsas, Science & Development Director at Hintsa Performance
1) Wu, H. et al. Association between dietary whole grain intake and risk of mortality: two large prospective studies in US men and women. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Mar;175(3):373-84.
2) Brand-Miller, J. et al. Carbohydrates – the good, the bad and the wholegrain. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17 (S1):16-19
3) Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S. et al. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British Journal of Nutrition (2012), 108, S105–S112.
4) World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington, DC: AICR, 2007
5) Popkin, B.M. et al. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutr Rev. 2010 August ; 68(8): 439–458.
6) Meengs, J.S. et al. Vegetable variety: an effective strategy to increase vegetable intake in adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 August ; 112(8): 1211–1215.