Healthy is a tough word to define, especially when it comes to food. There's a lot of conflicting nutrition information, and experts in the field often disagree about the foods we should be eating. We're constantly bombarded with fad diets and new data telling us we're eating the wrong way, and before we even hit publish on this article, there will be no less than 100 other articles published waging war on one of your favourite foods. It's overwhelming to say the least.
The truth is that healthy isn't absolute, and there's no best food or diet for everyone. Instead of constantly searching for something to prove you're eating correctly, start thinking about healthy eating as a mindset. Just like with fitness, if you make smart decisions that are right for you, you're going to end up in a good place.
With that said, if you're just getting started and you're confused about good foods to start with, check out a very abbreviated list below. Many of these foods are nutritionally dense, meaning they provide a lot of bang for your caloric buck. Nuts, for example, are packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and kale contains a variety of vitamins and minerals plus fibre.
As if figuring out what to eat wasn't difficult enough, you still have to figure out how much to eat and how to measure it. For the how much, check out our article about calorie calculation. As for measurement, one of the easiest ways to determine portion sizes is attached to your body: your hands.Using hand measurement to determine portion sizes isn't a new concept, and although it's not as precise as using a calorie calculator, it's a great way to get a ballpark measurement in a fraction of the time.
We're not about to reinvent the wheel with our own fancy hand measurement system, so instead we'll direct you to the methods used by Precision Nutrition. Their calorie control guide includes step-by-step instructions for using your hands for portion control.
You've probably heard this one before, but it's always worth repeating. Moderation is key. Without moderation, it doesn't matter what you decide to put into your body. Even "healthy" foods in quantities way above or below your ideal calorie intake can keep you from reaching your goals. On the flip side, making a few less than ideal nutritional choices isn't likely to halt your progress. The takeaway: don't go crazy, but don't drive yourself crazy with worry either.
If you're having a hard time figuring out what to eat and when, this template should help get you started. What you actually eat and how much will vary depending on your goals, but you'll be in a good place as long as you...
1. Figure out a base caloric intake that's right for you
2. Choose nutritionally dense foods that you enjoy eating
3. Use some form of portion control
4. Practice moderation
6:30am / Wake up
Solgar VM-2000 Multivitamin
7:00am / Breakfast
Eggs, whole-wheat toast
10:00am / Mid-morning snack
BioX Power Whey, mixed nuts
1:00pm / Lunch
Lean meat, brown rice, veggies
4:00pm / Pre-workout
Cellucor C4, Quest Protein Bar
5:30pm / Post-workout
BioX Power Whey
6:00pm / Dinner
Lean meat, sweet potatoes, veggies
9:00pm / Pre-bed
Nutralife Fish Oil, natural peanut/almond butter