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Living a Healthier Lifestyle Begins in the Kitchen

You know what you should eat, but how well do you manage how much you eat?

A few weeks back we wrote about the importance of consuming a healthy balance of macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. You truly are a product of what you eat.

It all comes down to cutting back on sugar (the carbohydrates), avoiding trans fats, and eating some form of protein at every meal. Combine that with a mix of cardiovascular training and some form of resistance/weight training.

Eat better and exercise. It’s easy in concept, admittedly more challenging in practice when you’re busy with work, kids, and whatever else you have going on.

But the key thing to remember is that no amount of exercise can overcome poor nutrition, or excessive nutrition. As the experts say in this great CBC article, you can eat your way through any amount of exercise.

You likely eat more than you think

Many of us underestimate how much we eat. It’s one thing to read nutrition labels, quite another to use a measuring cup to ensure the serving we take isn’t in fact a serving and a half, or even two.

Just because you are eating healthy foods, you can still over eat and sabotage your weight loss efforts.

“But,” you say, “I go to the gym – I’ll just burn it off.”

That works for some people, blessed with the kind of metabolism that gives them a six pack on a diet that leaves other people with a spare tire. But most of us need to be a little more diligent, especially as we pass 40 and the hormone balance in our bodies change. At this point in life, our bodies naturally start to lose muscle mass and accumulate fat around our mid-sections.

You likely burn fewer calories than you think

And we tend to overestimate just how many calories we burn at the gym.

For example, if you do 30 minutes of hard work on an elliptical or stationary bike at the gym, you might burn around 350 calories, which is nothing to sneeze at. But a single cran apple walnut bran muffin from Tim Horton’s (which sounds healthy with those ingredients) is 350 calories.

That one snack can erase the benefit of sweating on that machine for 30 minutes in the three minutes it takes you to eat it. And that doesn’t include the caloric impact of the double double that might go with it.

Beware the ‘healthy halo effect’

The other thing to be wary of is the “healthy halo effect.” This is our tendency to think we can eat more of something because we perceive it as healthy.

For example, many people will dish themselves a bigger bowl of ice cream if they put fresh berries on top. They think that bowl of fatty cream and added sugar is now “healthier.” Well, no, it isn’t.

There just isn’t any substitute for beginning your commitment to better health in the kitchen. The best way to work fitness into a busy schedule and achieve the results you want is to avoid sabotaging your efforts in the gym with what you chose to put in your mouth. The healthier you eat, the less time you have to spend in the gym.

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