If you resolved to lose weight or “get in shape” in 2017, you may be trolling the internet for trendy fad diets that promise to help you shrink in mere days. Hate to break it to you but there’s no magic pill (or diet) to help you quickly lose weight and get ripped. “Quick fix diets never work. Period. And what’s worse is that they can damage your workout gains in the process,” says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC sports dietitian for Quinnipiac University and Dana White Nutrition. “Going on a crash diet that slashes calories and macronutrients will slow metabolism and most likely lead to loss of muscle instead of fat.”
Instead, turn those unhealthy habits into lifelong healthy habits that can actually last. Here are 10 habits you can change to help you stay lean and trim for a lifetime. Make 2016 the year you quit the quick-fixes and instead get fit for life.
Find Simple Recipes
Cooking for yourself means you control the ingredients. If you’re not too comfortable in the kitchen, start with simple recipes and build your way up. There are many healthy cookbooks and diet-friendly recipes available at your fingertips.
Start With Grilled Chicken Breasts
Here is a basic recipe for grilled chicken breasts that you can easily master:
Recipe: Perfectly Grilled Chicken Breasts
Skill level: Beginner
Start to Finish: 25 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
3 medium garlic cloves
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons of whole grain mustard
¼ cup of cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lemon
6 tablespoons of olive oil
Ground pepper to taste
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Whisk in the olive oil and pepper. Add chicken and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 8 hours.
2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before grilling. Place the chicken on the grill and cook 6 minutes each side, or until juices run clear. Let the grilled chicken rest 5 minutes, covered, before serving.
Nutrition Information (per chicken breast)
Calories: 301; Total Fat: 14 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 32 grams; Carbohydrates: 11 grams; Sugars: 9 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 103 milligrams; Sodium: milligrams
Stash Hard-Boiled Eggs
Eggs are a perfect protein and contain all your essential amino acids, including the BCAAs, so you can get those muscles ripped. Keep a few hard-boiled eggs on hand for a quick snack. To hard boil eggs, place eggs in a large pot and cover with cool water. Place the pot over high heat, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Then remove from the heat, cover, and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the eggs until they are completely cool, about 10 minutes. Once they have cooked, peel and enjoy!
Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry
Make sure you have the basic ingredients stocked in your pantry at all times. This includes olive oil, salt, black pepper, whole grains (like quinoa and oats), and some emergency protein like canned black beans (with no salt added) and tuna packed in water. Also smart to keep on hand are grab-and-go snacks like nuts or fresh fruit.
Write a Shopping List
Make it a habit to write down a list of healthy ingredients and snacks to pick up at the supermarket. Stick to your list so you make as few unhealthy splurge purchases as possible.
Set a Time to Go Food Shopping
Set a specific day and time each week (or twice a week) to hit your local market, especially for fresh fruit and vegetables, and dairy products. Have a well-balanced meal or light snack before you leave the house. Going food shopping when you’re hungry can result in a shopping cart filled with foods that aren’t (and shouldn’t be) on your list.
Cook and Freeze for Later
You don’t have time to cook every night. That’s why it’s important to stock your freezer. Take one day a month to cook double portions of your favorites like soups, meatballs, chili, or stew, and freeze in small portions. That way you’ll have healthy, muscle-building meals available even on the busiest of nights.
Enlist a Partner
Healthy eating is easier if you do it with a partner. Whether it’s a friend or significant other, when you keep tabs on each other it helps keep you motivated to keep getting healthier (just like when you have a workout buddy at the gym).
When you Fall off the Wagon, Get Back Up
Nobody is perfect. It’s okay to have a day where you don’t eat as healthfully as you want. If you fall off the wagon for a day or even a week, just brush yourself off and get back on the healthy eating wagon.
Some people do better when they have outside support and guidance. There are many registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) who specialize in sports nutrition and are very familiar with the foods you need to eat and healthy habits that work. Even professional teams like the Royals and Yankees have a sports dietitian on board to help players stay fit. To find a RDN in your area, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website eatright.org and click on “find an expert.”
BY TOBY AMIDOR, M.S., R.D.