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You work out the recommended number of days per week. You're able to go all out and feel good about it when you’re done.

What about at the end of the day, though; do you ever feel like maybe you could have done better? Do you want to push your fitness to the next level? How about fit into a new style of workout clothes? If you’re leaving everything you’ve got at the gym, on the track or on the field, you’re half way there.

The part that’s harder than getting in a few extra sweat sessions each week for many athletes is fueling up appropriately. It make sense, there are thousands of diet plans, miracle shakes and weight loss pills out there that promise “amazing” results. But, that’s not what our bodies need. Our bodies simply need a healthy dose of fuel to achieve maximum effects.

If you’re ready to hit the next level, to set a new PR or just to be happier with the results you can see, try a few of the following options for eating healthier (therefore fueling better) without buying into one of the latest dieting crazes.

  1. Eat the Rainbow

rainbow diet what to eat

Eating healthy, fitting foods into colored containers and trying to maintain a certain level of sanity can be a tall order. Instead, start simply. Try to eat as many colors as possible at each meal, this doesn’t mean adding in a few extra helpings of Red #5.

Instead, focus on whole foods with color. Tomatoes, spinach, grapes, peppers, blueberries. Often times, the natural foods that are highest in antioxidants and other healthy vitamins are the most colorful. Eat the rainbow!

  1. Carry a Water Bottle

You’ve heard that you should drink 8 ounces of water a day. Do you actually do it?

To start, that might not be sufficient. Most individuals should aim for half their weight (in pounds) in ounces of water per day. For example, a 200 pound person should aim for 100 ounces of water each day.

No one said it’d be easy. But, by carrying a water bottle and tracking your intake, you’ll become more aware and will be able to build to the level that’s optimal for you. Hydration curbs unnecessary hunger pangs; it’s a great spring board toward other aspects of healthier eating.

  1. Shop Weekly

Planning ahead can be rough. That’s why you might find yourself at the grocery store on a daily basis, or stopping to grab fast food on your way home from the gym.

Just because it’s hard to plan ahead, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You probably plan for your workouts, right? You pack your gym bag ahead of time, you have your towel, your sport earbuds and your change of clothes packed along with your laptop before you head out the door?

Eating should be no different. Sit down on Sunday morning and put together your meal list for the week. Make an ingredient list, and head to the store. Don’t buy anything that’s not on the list. Then, stick to it, over time, it’ll become a habit and you’ll stop eating junk when you have a healthy option at home! No diet required.

  1. Shop Around the Store

When you’re creating your shopping list, and while you’re at the store, think about the outside of the grocery store. That’s where you’ll find fresh fruits and veggies, dairy, meats and other whole foods. One way to eat healthier is to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Shopping around the outside of the store, and avoiding as many aisles as possible is one way to accomplish this healthy eating goal.

If you’d like to up the ante, consider shopping only at your local farmers market (one that has meats and cheese along with produce). But, only if you feel extra daring!

  1. Utilize the Salad Bar

Eating healthy can feel time consuming. That’s because it is. It takes time to chop up fresh veggies for your stir fry, or to create sides that aren’t out of a box. Go easy on yourself by shopping from the grocery store’s salad bar. The veggies are already chopped. Grab a different box for each day of the week and you’re good to go!

  1. Focus on Protein

best sources of protein to eat healthy

Protein is power. It’s a way to enhance strength training by building muscle, and to push your body to new extremes. It’s also the perfect superfood for boosting your metabolism if weight loss is on your radar.

How much is right for you? Studies show that approximately 30% of your daily caloric intake should stem from lean proteins – think fish, white meat, superfoods like quinoa and so on – for the highest metabolic boost. Shoot for 24-35 grams of protein for breakfast to see even better results.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean counting calories obsessively, going to bed starving each night or sacrificing the things that are important to you. Simplify the process by paying attention to the pointers above: focus on whole foods, eat protein, drink enough water and make the process as smooth as possible with a little planning.

Ready to take your training to the next level? Take a peek inside your pantry, then get started today!

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