We all know a healthy nutrition is key for a healthier and more energetic lifestyle.
But actually, the very maintenance of our healthy nutrition habits is what makes it a sustainable part of our lives. This has a crucial effect on our metabolic health and our body's ability to use food as energy source.
While "old habits die hard," many of us have spent years developing unhealthy eating habits, and it can be difficult to break those patterns. Whether it's reaching for junk food when we're stressed or skipping workouts when we're busy, these habits can be deeply ingrained and hard to change.
When we want to make health changes, we need to change how we do things. Most of the time, a healthy lifestyle starts with our eating habits. But we can see it's not that easy, according to Statista, where 59% of US adults do not follow any nutrition rules.
You will find more infographics at Statista
The solution is optimizing your metabolism and using a nutritional macro plan personalized to your physiology to guide your day. Improving your metabolic flexibility through nutrition has many health benefits.
In this four-part series, we’ll share our favorite tips for developing healthy eating habits - straight from Lumen’s metabolic health experts and nutritionists.
Food Habits and Metabolic Health
The food you eat provides your body with all the raw materials it needs to produce energy, create new cells and tissues, manufacture hormones, heal and repair itself.
In turn, this feeds into your metabolic health (pun intended), which plays an essential role in your overall health. By getting to know your metabolism, you’ll gain a better understanding of the personalized nutrition your body wants and needs.
When it comes to reaching your health goals - whether it be losing weight, enhancing fitness or increasing your energy levels, understanding how your metabolism plays into it will reveal the inner workings of your body.
While it's easy to feel discouraged and lose steam, the trick is turning those big, intimidating goals into smaller, manageable steps. Breaking the steps down and tracking your progress weekly or monthly will show you the progress you're making, and you'll also feel inspired and motivated to keep going!
There are three key factors to consider when it comes to food and metabolism:
Keep reading to learn healthy eating habits around these factors and achieve your goals.
When it comes to metabolism, macros matter. Macros, or macronutrients, are the three nutrients that provide calories: fat, protein, and carbs. (For example, alcohol also provides calories, but it’s not a nutrient.)
Depending on your current health status, how active you are, and several other factors, the balance of macros that’s best for you can vary a lot. And, even in an individual, the best macro balance can change from day to day.
For instance, you may need to consume extra carbs on a really active day to give you the fast-acting energy your body requires, but on a less active day you may need fewer carbs.
Additionally, it’s really important to consider the kinds of foods you’re eating. Real, whole foods in the right portions (personalized according to your physiology) is made up of ample protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs in moderation.
This approach to nutrition promotes stable blood glucose levels. Stable blood glucose means less carb snacking, as there are no sharp drops of blood sugars.
Less carb snacking allows the body to tap the body’s fat reserves for fuel, which can help get you closer to your health goals.
Cooking more meals at home is a great healthy habit that will help you dial in the quality of your meals.
Portion sizes are an often-overlooked aspect of maintaining good metabolic health. Consuming the right balance of macronutrients is important, but paying attention to how much food you're eating is equally important.
A key factor in your metabolic health is the balance between the energy you consume and the energy you expend, and portion sizes play a big role in this balance. Estimating portion sizes using hand measurements is a simple way to get a rough idea of the amount of food you're eating.
Focusing on consuming the ideal amount of servings from each macro category, rather than counting numbers, is a less stressful and more holistic approach to maintaining good metabolic health. By being mindful of your macros and portion sizes, you can take an important step towards a healthier you.
Thirdly, meal timing is an important consideration. When you eat can affect your metabolism nearly as much as what you eat.
For example, failing to fuel up properly before a hard workout may leave you struggling to power through. Likewise, eating late at night could keep your body from ever entering a fat burning state while you sleep.
Learning how your body responds to meal timing and snack frequency can give you a more complete picture of your metabolic health.
To find lasting success, it’s important that you’re also tracking your progress and collecting feedback as you go. Knowing what’s working for you and what isn’t as you develop healthy habits can keep you grounded in your goals.
Tracking your food can be very helpful in revealing your strengths and struggles when it comes to your nutrition - for instance, if you’re snacking a lot at night or not getting enough protein.
And how can you know that your efforts are paying off? Our Lumen experts share a few things to consider:
Tracking these things can help you build momentum, and serves as a record of your wins. The more you track, the more easily you can figure out when something isn’t working for you and make adjustments, too.
You are what you eat, and it shows in your performance.
While sports nutrition may seem like it’s only for competitive athletes, we all need a good understanding of how nutrition affects our capacity for physical activity. Food fuels the body, and a proper diet fuels optimal performance.
Movement is so important for overall health. Integrating healthy eating habits can make it easier to power through workouts, recover from intense sweat sessions, and improve your body composition by building muscle and burning fat.
Using a fitness wearable to track your exercise can help you see your performance gains - and don’t forget to take those body measurements once a month if you’re trying to improve your body composition.
Need a little help planning your meals to match your fitness goals? We’ve got you. While you don’t have to plan every meal and snack of every single day, we think it’s a great idea to go into each day with some idea of what you’re going to eat - especially if there’s a workout on the menu too.
When finding that balance of fuel and performance, our Lumen experts recommend integrating these habits:
Did you know that not getting enough sleep can affect your appetite? According to some studies, people who are sleep deprived gravitate towards foods that are higher in fat and sugar.
It works both ways, too. Researchers have found that what you eat can affect how well you sleep. Meal patterns containing carbohydrates, protein, melatonin, and phytochemicals - like those found in colorful fruits and vegetables - are associated with promoting better sleep.
Here’s how you can use healthy eating habits to foster a restful and metabolically healthy night’s sleep:
Hydration is an underrated powerhouse of nutrition. The body is mostly fluid, so even small changes to your hydration status can have a big impact on your ability to thrive. Just like food, your body needs the right amount of fluid to perform its best.
Here are our Lumen nutritionists’ favorite hacks to help you stay well-hydrated each and every day:
Finally, it’s time to talk about stress and energy. Sure, stress can be helpful in small doses, but many of us spend our days constantly feeling the pressure - and that long-term, ongoing stress is damaging to metabolic health. It can leave you feeling tired and unmotivated, and many times is at least partly to blame for stubborn belly fat.
Here are a few food mindset tips and healthy eating habits that can equip you to handle life’s demands with less stress:
Nutrition matters for metabolic health.
But health isn’t about deprivation or following “one size fits all” diet programs.
Instead, good nutrition means finding what works for you and your body, cultivating an appreciation for healthy foods, and enjoying foods you love without stress.
Knowing exactly how your metabolism responds to what, when, and how much you eat is like winning the lottery without ever buying a ticket. That way, you can develop healthy eating habits that fit your metabolic health needs, your goals, and your lifestyle.
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Our Lumen editorial desk includes an in-house team of certified and registered nutritionists and dietitians, scientists, researchers, and writers.