Most of you know that what you eat is very important in living a healthy lifestyle. But do you know how important? Would it surprise you to know that it is not the calories that are important?
The way your body looks is 80% nutrition and only 20% exercise, sleep, stress and other factors. It is that important. Furthermore, it is not how many calories you eat that is important, it is what makes up the calories you eat that is key. To have a good body composition (lower body fat and more lean muscle) you need to pay attention to the macro-nutrients, or macros, for short. These are fats, protein and carbohydrates.
To eat healthy, it is not always easy. Healthy foods are typically not in a bag that you can just grab and go. If you are on the go, healthier choices are harder to come by when you need something fast. The key to eating healthy is meal prep and meal planning. This means you plan ahead of time what you will eat for the day and sometimes even cook these items a few days in advance.
I typically take 2 hours on a Saturday or Sunday to prepare ahead of time the main dishes for the entire upcoming week. I will grill some chicken breasts, boil some eggs, steam some veggies, prepare a rice dish and cook 1-2 other protein dishes like a ground beef skillet or a veggie/meat casserole of some sort. I will also pre-bag some nuts, carrots, sliced peppers and other healthy items to snack on. This way I don’t have to worry during the week about cooking a dish when I don’t have as much time. It also gives me peace of mind to not have to cook after getting home from a long day at work.
Where do I get most of the foods that I prepare? Costco… yep, you heard it right.
Here are some of the things that I routinely buy from Costco and some of my favorite staples that make my week go so smoothly in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Protein is key in building muscle. Eating a good amount of protein also helps you feel full. Costco has a great meat selection. Grass fed beef, organic ground turkey, chicken breasts and they have HUGE salmon filets that I will typically cook half of then freeze the other half for later in the week or the following week.
Vegetables are KEY with keeping the macro nutrient percentages in check! Every lunch and dinner should contain a vegetable. No joke. With all meals needing vegetables, even getting and preparing them in bulk will not leave any leftovers by the end of the week.
I typically buy Brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers (6 pack) which go in a lot of recipes, sweet mini peppers for snacks, baby spinach for salads and they have some great chopped salad mixes. When in season, I will grab spaghetti squash, zucchini and butternut squash (already cubed and ready to use). Have you ever tried to make your own cauliflower rice in a food processor… it’s a pain and it makes a mess! Costco has it pre-made! The chopped salad mixes I will use in salads I also will cook in a skillet with some extra virgin olive oil, some chopped chicken breast and seasonings.
Protein sources other than meat:
My protein sources from Costco don’t only come from meats, Costco also sells eggs by the 2 dozen. You will also find a great variety of jerky at Costco that is also organic.
The supplements section at Costco can be overwhelming, but take it from me, you’ll find some of your favorites here. One of my favorite brands of protein powder and protein shakes (Vega) can be found here! They also have a wonderful selection of some great protein bars as well! LaraBars, CaveMan and Nature Valley to name a few.
Pasta, the refined flour kind, is not the best for you. Did you know you know that you can still get your pasta fix by changing it up and using unrefined grains or vegetables? Costco carries Edamame Spaghetti noodles, quinoa pasta, as well as organic chickpea fusilli pasta which is higher in protein and great for those strength days that you need more carbohydrates!
Speaking of higher carb days, you will also find organic quinoa, brown rice and chia seeds which are the healthy unrefined grains that you should be eating. I like to throw some quinoa or brown rice in my salads for lunch to ensure I get the carbohydrates my muscles need.
Ezekiel bread and gluten free bread can be found in the freezer section. If you’re going to eat bread, then flourless, sprouted, whole grain bread is what you should be eating. Ezekiel bread is a great source of protein! Most bread you will find is bread with flour and grains that are stripped of their nutrients.
Fruits contain carbohydrates yes, but these carbohydrates are natural and not added. Fruit is a great source of carbohydrates and all of my snacks on higher carb days consist of fruit! I also add fruit in my salads from time to time which adds some sweetness and extra flavor.
Did you know that avocados are fruits? I buy a bag (contains 6) per week of avocados! They are packed full of nutrients, contain healthy fats and are probably one of the healthiest foods you can eat! Great on toast (Ezekiel toast), with eggs, on salads, on sandwiches… on everything!
Since we are talking about avocados, of my other favorites at Costco is their 3 pack of Good Foods brand Guacamole! I put this on just about everything if I don’t have any avocado on hand or if I just want to spice it up a bit!
Nuts are a staple in my diet! They are high in fat and protein. Fats and protein will help you feel full so these are always a snack on my lower carbohydrate days! Walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, nut mixes, cashews, chocolate dipped nuts, you name it, they probably have it!
So, there it is… what I depend on to get through the week!
Previously I mentioned high and low carb days. If you are wondering what that is all about, I am referencing carb-cycling. My clients and I utilize carb-cycling to maximize fat loss in my program (The FAST ATTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION) and continue carb-cycling to maintain once we have reached our goals. This means some days we eat higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat and other days we eat lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat. This is done in coordination with the activity or workout of the day. This regulates hormones, so we are less hungry and have more energy, and also allows us to eat what we want occasionally and STILL lose fat and gain muscle!
To learn more about carb-cycling and the other methods that are used in the FAST, ATTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION-FAT Loss Program, click here. The Back to School Challenge program starts THIS Sunday, August 20 and is a 7-week online program that combines a nutrition and fitness plan that maximizes fat loss by working smarter not harder. LETZDOTHIS!