Following on from our last post on how to improve your hustle by eating clean, this article delves a little deeper into the concept of whole foods. Whole foods are those that are unprocessed or as close to their original form as possible. They’re largely free of additives and preservatives, so consuming them gives you greater control over what goes into your body.
Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of whole foods as well as their nutritional content:
Meat, Fish, Poultry, and Eggs
This includes fresh cuts of meat and poultry from the butcher, fish from the fishmonger, and free-range eggs. Try and avoid meat that comes with marinade, as these are usually laden with salt and sugar; opt to make your own instead.
These foods are where you get your protein, which builds and repairs cells – particularly after exercise. They’re also a source of healthy fats, especially fish, which is rich in omega 3 monounsaturated fats. These fats supply your body with energy and are great your cardiovascular health.
They include wheat, rice, quinoa, oats, barley, bulgur wheat, spelt and rye. You could eat them as they are, in the case of rice, quinoa, oats, etc. Or, as found in food like bread and pasta. Yeah I know, in the strictest sense, these foods are processed. However, products like whole grain (brown) bread and pasta use the whole grain kernel. This is opposed to white bread and pasta which have the most fibrous and nutritious part of the grain removed.
Whole grains mainly provide good carbs. The kind that’s slowly broken down by your body, give you a steady supply of energy, keep you feeling fuller for longer, and don’t send your blood sugar levels spiralling off into a tizzy. Whole grains are also a rich source of fibre, which isn’t digested but contribute to you feeling full and the slow release of energy. Try and include these in your lunch to sustain you and keep you sharp through the afternoon. Also, include them in your post-gym meals to refuel your muscles.
Beans and Legumes
This includes every type of bean, namely kidney, white, butter, and baked beans as well as lentils and chickpeas. Also, on a little trivia note, peanuts and peas are also legumes!
They’re a great source of protein, carbohydrates, fibre, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. Beans and legumes are a great way for vegetarians and vegans to get more protein in their diet. They’re also an easy way to increase the protein in a salad. Also, hummus, which is made from chickpeas, is a healthy, delicious dip for veg like carrots, cucumbers, capsicum, celery, and asparagus.
Fruit and Vegetables
Vegetables are an excellent source of slow-releasing carbs and tons of vitamins and minerals. Aim to get as many into your diet as you can. This could be via salads, stir-fries, smoothies, or by steaming, sautéing, or roasting them.
Now, while no one (except kids) has a bad word to say about veg, fruits often get a bad rap. This is due to their fructose content and with being a sugar, many people reason that it should be avoided. However, the fibre content in fruit massively slows down the absorption of fructose – giving you a handy supply of energy instead. Plus, fruit makes a great snack, particularly if you have a sweet tooth you’re trying to get under control. A banana is far preferable to a Tim Tam if you’re trying to lose weight! And like veg, fruit contains a huge array of vitamins and minerals that keep your body feeling vital and healthy.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and brazil nuts; and seeds, such as hemp, chia, and flax seeds, are packed full of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
They make great portable snacks and are a healthy addition to salads, stir-fries, salads, or a bowl of oats in the morning. They’re also the basis of many non-dairy kinds of milk that are rapidly gaining popularity. Just be sure to buy the ‘raw’ varieties that aren’t covered with salt or honey roasted. Also, nuts can be a little pricey, so for a money-saving tip, look in the Indian/Asian section of your supermarket. There, they’re often available in larger quantities at lower prices.
In conclusion, making sure your diet is mainly comprised of whole foods is a sure-fire to stay healthy, remain vital and energetic, and maintain a healthy weight. You have a much better idea of what’s entering your body, and best of all, they make for delicious, nutritious meals and snacks!