Whether you’re struggling with weight loss or you just want to be healthy, it’s widely known that nutrition makes up 75-80% of a healthy diet, while exercise is only a quarter of it. If you have been logging hours of cardio and countless reps with weights, yet seen meek results, your nutrition is probably the reason.

Nutrition Basics

Whether you’re struggling with weight loss or you just want to be healthy, it’s widely known that nutrition makes up 75-80% of a healthy diet, while exercise is only a quarter of it.  If you have been logging hours of cardio and countless reps with weights, yet seen meek results, your nutrition is probably the reason.

What is proper nutrition?

Exact calorie intake varies by the individual, but moderation is always key.  In a society bombarded with fast-food, quick meals, packaged and processed snacks, and countless foods labeled as low-fat, low-sugar, low-carb, gluten-free, or healthy, it is hard to know what’s real and what’s not!

Stick to the basics.

Read the ingredients.  If you can’t read them, they’re probably not good for you.  The ingredients list is in order of quantity (most to least).  Be ware that there are multiple names for sodium (sodium benzoate, disodium, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt, sodium nitrate, etc.), many terms for sugar (high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, agave nectar, barley malt syrup, dehydrated cane juice, etc.), and you definitely should avoid trans fat!  (Source: Heart.org)

Better yet, stick to whole foods!  Eggs, meat (with basic seasoning), sweet potato, squash, fresh vegetables (frozen with no salt/no cheese if you must), fresh fruit (frozen with no sugar if you must), and basic dairy.  What happened to have a chicken breast and broccoli for dinner?  You don’t need a cheesy broccoli potato casserole that accounts for half of your daily caloric and fat intake.

What is a serving size?

Check the label!  Many drinks have 2-4 servings per bottle, so “100 calories” entice you to purchase it; however, it’s actually more like 400 calories.  Yikes!

Measure it.  When you get home and start eating your delicious groceries, don’t guess how much you’re eating, measure it.  Buy a food scale ($10 on Amazon), measuring cups, bowls with pre-measured sizes, etc.  (Weighing food is the best option, as some food doesn’t fit into measuring cups properly.)  That’s the only way to be honest with yourself, especially if you’re tracking calories/nutrients, but you’re not losing weight – you’re probably eating more than a serving!  You’re not fooling anyone, so be honest with yourself.

The Key is Macro-Nutrients.

This is the real secret.  After 26 years of “dieting”, having tried the Atkins and South Beach Diets, limiting calories, tracking calories on and off for years, exercising nearly every day, working as a group fitness instructor, and still not losing weight, it’s because of macro-nutrients!  You do not need a special fad diet, but you do need to be aware of what you are eating.  Your mother asked if you ate your veggies, but did you eat your protein?

Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates.  You need all 3.  Yes, you need to eat fat and carbs, but you also need a whole lot more protein than you’re probably eating.  Many fad diets are high-protein, and for a good reason.  Protein keeps you full longer, helps with endurance, and builds muscle.  (Ladies, you will not get bulky, but you will get toned!)  How much protein, fat, and carbohydrates?  There are many recommendations from various sources.  Read more about my macronutrients.  (For starters, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, stating 10-35% of calories from protein, 45-65 percent of calories from carbs, and 20-35 percent of calories from fat.)

I used to think one or two eggs for breakfast with oatmeal, and maybe a deli turkey sandwich for lunch, and chicken with potatoes for dinner was plenty of protein.  NO.  Look at all of those carbs!  Yes, you’re eating protein, but you need a lot more.  Check out what I’m currently eating.

Are you going out to eat?

You definitely should enjoy social time with family and friends, and that often includes eating!  Be prepared.  Check out the restaurant’s nutrition facts online before you go.  You’d be surprised that the “healthy salad” often has more calories and fat than a simple burger.  Find something that is tasty and reasonably healthy.  Try not to make it a regular occurrence by offering to cook dinner at your house instead.  Then you can serve fruit, vegetables, and a great entrée (lemon pepper salmon, baked squash, etc.), while still enjoying their company (and you probably will save money too)!

Start with these tips and you’ll feel the changes in just a few days!  If you have a bite of chocolate, that’s okay, just don’t let that ruin the rest of your day or week!  Get right back on track with healthy options like chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, light Greek yogurt, etc.


For more information, check out these great resources!


Disclaimer:  I am not a licensed dietician or medical doctor; therefore, I cannot and will not prescribe or treat conditions or diseases.  I can provide “general non-medical nutrition information,” which typically includes:

  • principles of good nutrition and food preparation
  • food to be included in the normal daily diet
  • essential nutrients needed by the body
  • recommended amounts of essential nutrients
  • actions of nutrients on the body
  • effects of deficiencies or excesses of nutrients
  • food and supplements that are good sources of essential nutrients

Source:  Idea Fit by the American Council on Exercise (ACE)