Nutrition is a key part to any healthy lifestyle. In fact, most experts say that weight control is 75 percent diet and only about 25 percent exercise – though some say it’s more like 80/20 or even 90/10.
Whatever ratio you prefer, one thing is clear: No matter how much time you spend in the gym or how hard you push yourself, you cannot outtrain a poor diet. Your diet should not only provide you with all the fuel that you need to keep up with the demands of your awesome life, but it should also be rich in all the micronutrients you need to support the countless chemical reactions that keep your body running.
So, how can you do that? To help you build a healthy diet – and lifestyle – here are 7 nutrient-dense foods that you should be eating every week. Try to work these into your routine as often as possible to ensure that you’re getting all the macros and micros you need to perform your best.
Fish – Omega-3 fatty acids are some amazing little fats. Typically considered a “general health” booster, omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health and even improve brain function in a way that effectively reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. While omega-3s can be supplemented, it’s preferable to get them through your meals by incorporating fatty fish like salmon, mackeral, tuna and sardines into your diet.
Spinach – Not only is this leafy green a rich source of the above-noted omega-3s, but it is packed with only vital nutrients. The famed muscle-building plant is also full of vitamins A, C, E and K, in addition to fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and folate. Better yet, spinach is pretty easy to toss into other meals, whether you make it into a salad, use it as a green on your sandwich, saute it with garlic or just throw a handful into your smoothie.
Eggs – These little nutritional powerhouses have long been the center of dietary controversy, largely because of their cholesterol content. The truth, however, is that dietary cholesterol does not necessarily raise the levels floating around in your blood. In fact, some studies even show that the fats found in eggs can improve your overall cholesterol profile. Plus, eggs are loaded with protein, omega-3s, choline, B vitamins, vitamin A and Selenium, while carrying small – but beneficial – amounts of tons of other vitamins and minerals.
Yogurt – While it can be a great source of healthy fat, proteins, vitamins and minerals, most people are drawn to yogurt for less… obvious reasons. A quality yogurt will provide your body with plenty of probiotics – highly beneficial bacteria that lives in your gut and can improve mood, digestion, immune response and tons of other biological functions.
Nuts – Famously full of protein and healthy fats, nuts are also stuffed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. What really makes nuts so very valuable, though, is just how ridiculously convenient they are; a small amount can can be tucked away at your desk or you could even toss a bag into your gym bag as a snack for later on. Just a word of caution, though, nuts are extremely calorie-dense, meaning that they contain more calories than people realize. Watch your portions with these little guys.
Green Tea – Long touted for it’s health benefits, green tea is a great source of antioxidants and other plant-based chemicals that have been shown to improve immune function, metabolism and brain health. Of course, green tea has the added benefit of containing everyone’s favorite stimulant: caffeine. Interestingly, tea also contains theanine – a substance that calms your nervous system. The combination of caffeine and theanine has been shown to increase mental focus and energy, while not contributing to the uncomfortable jitters sometimes associated with caffeine.
Berries – Another extremely adaptable, convenient source of nutrients, berries of all sorts can easily be added to your meals and smoothies, or eaten on their own as a snack. For the sake of nutritional balance, mix up the colors of your berries; the pigments themselves confer specific health benefits.
Of course, if you can’t prepare a meal or have these super-healthy foods easily available, you’ll need another option. Quality meal replacements, like Gnarly Feast or Vegan Feast are the way to go – designed to contain everything you need and no added junk.