Summer is just around the corner, time to ditch the baggy sweatshirts and break out the tank tops! Maybe you over indulged over the holidays but NOW you are ready to get serious. Last week we outlined the importance of water on performance and body composition as a top priority but a close second is vegetable intake.
It’s a well-known fact that including vegetables in your diet is a great way to improve your health, performance and body composition. When it comes to the foundation of your diet the focus should be on non-starchy vegetables and fruit. You get more nutrients, minerals, vitamins and fiber per calorie with these foods than any other. In addition to this, an important component contained in most vegetables is phytochemicals, which have been cited as having extreme beneficial effects on human health and in some studies have shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Vegetables should be the food group with the highest volume in our diet compared to other foods. EVERY time you eat, at least half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables and some fruit (ideal ratio of 3 to 1).
Vegetables are generally classified as non-starchy and starchy vegetables. Since the average person already consumes a significant amount of carbohydrates every day, attention should be placed on non-starchy vegetables, rather than the starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes.
We should all aim to change our habits to allow at least 9 to 11 servings of non-starchy veggies each day (1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked = 1 serving). Depending on your activity level and leanness, you may do well adding a few moderate servings of fruits or starchier foods– but everyone is unique with how they respond to higher quantities of concentrated carbohydrates, so use caution with large amounts.
When purchasing fresh vegetables, it is important to choose wisely. It’s best that you learn to recognize the signs that a vegetable may be overripe, rotten or otherwise damaged. Some vegetables may not display any evidence of damage on the outside, so it is essential that you only purchase your vegetables from a trusted source. Some fresh vegetables are treated with pesticides, antibacterial and antifungal chemicals in order for them to stay fresh longer. Some of these chemicals can be detrimental to your health, so it is best that you wash each vegetable thoroughly before preparing it for consumption
Key tips to consider:
-Focus on locally grown produce; it means the vegetables are in season and as fresh and nutrient-dense as possible.
-Eat organic when possible. Foods that are treated with pesticides and other chemicals get into your body…EVEN if you wash them!
-Aim to have ½ of your plate veggies, and include a wide variety of colors (different colors mean different nutrients)
-If your objection to eating more vegetables is time, consider buying precut veggies to save time OR precook veggies ahead of time to add to an omelet in the morning or to add in with your quinoa for lunch or dinner.
My personal favorite way to eat veggies is to dip them in hummus!
Several of us are going into week two of the Suns Out Guns Out Team Transformation challenge and maybe we made really good progress on our first goal (water intake? Tracking? Moving more?) and you are ready to tackle a new goal. That goal could be aiming for the recommended 9-11 servings of veggies each day.
Our supplement(s) of the week is the Herbal Cleanse (part of the 24 Day Challenge) that includes fiber as well as the Probiotic Restore which helps get your metabolism jump started. I would also recommend the Multinutrient Nutrition System (MNS) for those of us who maybe don’t always get the 9-11 servings of veggies we should be each day. Think of MNS as your insurance plan to making sure you get the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need each day to metabolize fat and build muscle Talk to a Fuse Fitness Coach to get started on the Herbal Cleanse or MNS. If you’d like to save 20% of these or any of the other great Advocare products click here.