Valley personal trainer, Karen Mullarkey, shares 10 ways to improve your diet in 2020. From the truth about carbs to counting macros — a few of these tips may (pleasantly) surprise you!
Let’s face it, most of us fall short when it comes to the whole “clean eating” aspect of our fitness goals. While working out regularly is important to maintain a healthy physique, a balanced diet is actually 85% of the battle.
I see it all the time at the gym. Clients come in, workout really hard 3-5 times a week, yet their problem areas don’t improve to the degree they had expected. They’re spinning their wheels because the scales aren’t budging, yet they have also been sabotaging their physical fitness in the kitchen and on the weekends. Try implementing these tips to keep your diet on track and balanced in the new year:
1. Ditch the processed foods.
I always buy meats and vegetables that I have to season and cook myself so I know exactly what is put on them and how they are prepared. No hidden sugar, sodium, calories or preservatives.
2. Eat fresh fruits and veggies.
Canned fruits and veggies often have added sugar/sodium and the freezing process can compromise certain vitamins in produce. Go fresh whenever possible — you’ll avoid mushiness and maximize your nutrient intake.
3. Limit alcohol to weekends.
Everything in moderation, ladies!
4. Carbs are NOT the enemy.
If I hear Keto one more time, I might just scream! If you’re working hard in the gym on a regular basis, your body and your brain need complex carbs to function. For proper fueling, choose a whole-grain, high-fiber, complex carb like whole-grain toast or half a banana to eat approximately 45 minutes before your workout.
5. Make smart choices when dining out.
When in doubt, order a protein and a veggie.
6. No more calorie counting.
I competed for 10 years in the IFBB and WBFF and never counted my macros. Listen to your body. Fuel and hydrate intuitively. Stop when you are satisfied. Counting macros is an easy way to trigger a disordered or obsessive relationship with food and exercise. It’s all about balance!
7. Meal Prep.
Prepare and portion your meals at the beginning of each week. This way, you can grab-and-go during a busy day of work. If you’re starving and don’t have healthy meals prepared, you’re more likely to grab the first thing that you can get your hands on, which — let’s be honest — will probably be something processed.
I can’t stress enough how important water consumption is. Purchase a 32-ounce water bottle and drink 3-4 of them throughout your day, especially if you live in Arizona.
9. Treat yourself to a weekend cheat meal.
You’ve eaten clean all week — you deserve it!
10. Hire a professional who can send you a balanced diet plan.
Working with a trainer or dietician to build a meal plan based on your specific goals is always a great idea. Plus, working with a professional means built-in accountability.
These are just a few clean eating tips to help you be successful in the nutrition department of your fitness journey. Please don’t overthink it, just make smart choices. Being fit and eating well are both very important, but so is learning how to balance.
If you would like a custom nutrition plan built just for you, contact me for a complimentary nutrition consultation at www.karenmullarkey.com.
About Karen Mullarkey
No Mullarkey Personal Training was founded by Scottsdale health and fitness expert, personal trainer, and 4X fitness cover model, Karen Mullarkey. In addition to one-on-one, group, in-home, and virtual training sessions, Karen offers nutrition consulting and fitness competition preparation to women (and men!) throughout the Valley. Karen is a former professional fitness competitor, IFBB/WBFF Pro, and donates a percentage of her business proceeds to Prostate Cancer Research in memory of former mentor, Gary Cruz. Follow Karen on Instagram and Facebook for daily health & fitness advice, videos, and to follow her American Ninja Warrior 2020 training journey!