What is the Healthiest Diet and Lifestyle?

If you follow  media stories regarding health, diet, nutrition and exercise recommendations you may be feeling a little confused. I understand! As health and nutrition guidelines are constantly challenged with new research finding coming to light, the media grabs hold of it and hypes it up. So what you believe one day, may be seem to refuted the next. But in the meantime, the media makes the findings seem definitive. Many respond by jumping on the latest health bandwagon based on inconclusive research.

Some things that have recently be challenged are:

  • the role (amount and type) of fat and heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
  • the ideal frequency, duration and intensity of exercise  for weight loss or  to maintain or improve health.
  • if sugar contributes to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, weight gain.
  • if “natural” and organic foods are better for overall health.
  • if dietary supplements are safe and/or do what the label and advertisements claim.
  • the great macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, fat) debate regarding weight loss, e.g., which is the best approach for fast result or  long-lasting results?

What to do:?

  • Use common sense! If it seems to good to be true, it probably won’t help you achieve your desired outcome.
  • Go back to the basics. Yes, I know this sounds boring but no matter how many weight loss remedies are touted, how many times you hear you can lose weight can keep if off without exercise and without changing your eating habits, these far-fetched claims are just not true.
  • Consult a educated, trained, licensed and/or certified healthcare professional.

Since I am one of those (educated, trained, licensed and/or certified healthcare professional), as in my case, a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer with a BS and MS in nutrition and 25+ years of experience and education to share with you, I will sum up my recommendations and thoughts on what is a healthy diet and lifestyle:

  1. Avoid quick weight loss schemes and fad diets. Instead focus on making lifestyle and eating behavior changes.
  2. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables consume 5-9 servings every day.
  3. When choosing grain-based sources of carbohydrates, choose mostly whole grains and legumes. Skip refined flours such as enriched, white, semolina (pasta), white rice and other highly processed grains.
  4. If you do #3&#4 you will likely meet my next recommendation of consuming 25-40 grams of fiber per day.
  5. Eat plenty of lean protein and non-fat dairy products. Skip processed meats as they are loaded with sodium and other additives and often are high in unhealthy fats.
  6. Keep moving. Combine the 4 pillars of exercise: strength, cardio, flexibility and balance into you weekly routine.
  7. In addition to you more structured exercise program, look for opportunities to be more active throughout your day
  8. Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. This not only helps regulate hormones that favor maintaining a healthier weight, it also helps you better manage stress and better perform your daily activities.
  9. Choose your beverages carefully. Water, coffee, tea, and limited amounts of alcohol are fine. Pass on the fancy sweetened high-fat coffee drinks and smoothies that are often loaded with more sugar than nutrition. Also decrease sweetened and unsweetened soft drinks and sports drinks.
  10. Eat smaller portions and fewer snack foods!!

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