There is a principle developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that states: “eighty percent of the effects comes from twenty percent of the causes.” Pareto’s principle has been applied to many business and health practices through the years since its inception in the early twentieth century and also relates to nutrition for both weight loss and maintaining the lean body that you crave. Most of the results from eating healthy are derived from two simple habits that can be immediately integrated into a daily routine.
Nutrition habits are superior to specific dietary recommendations because of their consistency. Daily habits will become ingrained and contribute more to your health than exact amounts that require too much calculation and preparation. With busy schedules it’s all about bang for our buck and this is exactly what a lifestyle change provides compared to the latest supplement or wonder drug. Remember the advice of another intellect from the past, Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
The first lean body habit to adopt is to make vegetables your primary source of carbohydrates. Vegetables are the most nutrient dense food source on the planet. This means that based on the calorie count, veggies are packed with lots of vitamins and minerals that aid in all of the processes of the body. Vegetables are also digested and absorbed slowly, providing prolonged energy. In contrast, other carbohydrate sources like bread, pasta and rice are calorie dense, contain few vitamins and minerals and are digested quickly, leading to returning feelings of hunger. By providing a plethora of these nutrients from vegetables, the body will decrease the hunger signals sent when a deficiency is detected.
The best types of vegetables are the green leafy, cruciferous (i.e. broccoli and cabbage) and brightly colored varieties. More starchy vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes are still good choices but should be restricted to post-workout meals. Fruits, though rich in vitamins and minerals are composed of simple sugars that are absorbed quickly with spikes in blood sugar and limitation in the diet is recommended. Including vegetables with lean protein during every feeding will nourish the body without adding extra calories to the daily intake allowing you to lose fat and keep it off.
Designating water as your primary beverage is the other lean body habit that will greatly affect results. In addition to having absolutely no calories, water greatly improves digestive, cardiovascular and neural health. Hunger is often confused for thirst and feelings of fullness can be advanced with water intake. On the flip side, the body does not recognize the caloric content of liquids as well as solids and, therefore, drinking beverages such as pop, milk, fruit juice and even many sports drinks can easily increase caloric intake and fat storage without you realizing their effects.
Drinking a half gallon (8 cups) of water is day is recommended at rest and is at least double that with any intense physical activity. Making a routine in which a glass is consumed immediately upon waking and one glass with, and between every meal and snack will provide a healthy daily amount. Though it may be difficult, and some exceptions may be made for post-workout shakes, drinking only water as opposed to beverages that contain calories (especially alcohol) can lead to huge results in body composition and overall health.
The journey toward a lean body requires dedication and effort. However, some behaviors have a much greater impact than others. Consuming vegetables for the majority of carbohydrates and water as the main beverage choice will decrease calories and increase nutrients of your daily intake. These two habits are highly recommended and carry a large bearing on sculpting the body into the lean form that you desire.