One thing everyone wants is to be healthy; the best way of achieving this is through eating a healthy and balanced diet. However, it can sometimes be challenging to know where to start in regards to improving your nutrition.

The truth is, whether you like to cook Italian, Asian or Greek dishes, there are plenty of delicious and healthy options. But there are some rules that you need to stick to if you want to place a focus on healthy eating.

Keep reading to find out five ways you can achieve optimal nutrition.

1. Boost your metabolism through eating protein

One of the most important ways to improve your level of nutrition is to enhance the way your body processes food. It all comes down to changing your metabolism.

Your metabolic rate refers to how many calories your body burns at rest. Therefore; the faster your metabolism, the easier you will find it to lose weight.

However, not everyone’s metabolic rate is the same and can be incredibly slow for some people. If you are looking to shed some excess body fat, finding ways to speed up and improve your metabolism is important.

One of the best ways to improve your metabolic rate is by consuming a high protein diet. Studies have shown that high protein diets can boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day when compared to low protein diets.

Eating a high protein diet also has many other benefits, such as reducing appetite, increasing muscle mass, strengthening bones and lowering blood pressure.

Some good sources of protein are:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Full fat dairy products

Vegetables and meat

2. Change the fats and oils you use

If you want to change your diet in order to achieve optimal nutrition, you will need to make small adjustments, as well as larger lifestyle changes. It may feel like an obvious step to eat more protein, but there are other more subtle changes you can implement that will also have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing.

Most people use some form of fat or oil when they cook without thinking much of it; but in reality, these products could be having a negative impact on your health. Although vegetable oils are a cheap and easily accessible option, they aren’t the healthiest option.

Many people believe that refined oils are a healthier alternative, but this is actually a myth. Oils such as corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil have a different composition to more natural products, and are high in Omega-6 fatty acids.

Instead of using these products, opt for oils that are saturated, or monounsaturated. Some good options are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil

3. Consider what you’re drinking

When it comes to changing your diet, the obvious thing to change is what you eat, but many people make the mistake of forgetting about what they drink. However, everything you consume is important, including the things in liquid form.

It’s no secret that a high sugar diet is bad for you, and sugary drinks are by far the worst contributor to this. In fact, sugary drinks are actually worse than consuming sugar in other forms.

Studies have highlighted that the brain doesn’t register liquid sugar calories in the same way it registers calories from other foods. Essentially, if you are drinking sugary juices or soft drinks, your brain is not taking this into consideration when it monitors your energy intake. Therefore, your brain will not be compensating for those extra calories. This results in you consuming more than you need.

It has been suggested by experts that sugar sweetened drinks are the most fattening aspect of a modern diet.

The truth is, the only drink you need is water. So by swapping out sugary drinks for water, you are greatly improving your nutrition and your body will thank you for it. Many people feel more active, awake, and healthier after making this change. It is a simple way of cutting down on excess calories, and you will soon see positive changes in your body as a result of it.

4. Carb intake should match your metabolic rate and activity levels

There are a range of views when it comes to carbs; some people believe they should be avoided at all costs, whilst others argue that they are the biggest part of our diet. The truth is somewhere between the two extremes.

When it comes to carb intake, the amount you should be consuming depends greatly on the individual. The optimal intake for any individual depends on metabolic health, activity levels, food culture and personal preference.

As an example, an athlete who is lean and exercises regularly can have a high carb diet, whilst someone who is overweight or inactive may be better off with a low carb diet.

So if you are hoping to improve your nutrition, think about your metabolic rate and how much activity you partake in and adjust your carbohydrate intake accordingly.

5. Avoid processed foods

If you want to achieve optimal nutrition, you need to avoid processed foods; this involves completely cutting them out of your diet. Instead of eating processed foods, focus on clean eating and quality produce.

It can be really tempting to eat unhealthy processed foods if you have them in your kitchen, so clear out your pantry and get rid of anything processed. This will help to reduce temptation and therefore help you stick to your dietary goals.

Some examples of things to keep away are:

  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Pastry

Try to fill your fridge and pantry with fresh, high quality ingredients, such as grass fed animal products and vegetables.