People talk about diets all the time. They are looking at what to eat to bulk up, to lose weight, to feel better and to improve their health. There are hundreds of different diets, all of which seem complex and difficult to maintain.
With that in mind, here we share 10 Tips that we have used and loved at 10Adventures HQ.
This is a personal article as well. Our Founder (Richard) had a health scare in 2016 and spent almost 12 months in bed. As a result of this, his doctor recommended that he take a more active approach to his health and fitness, and suggested a variety of ideas, some of the best of which we list below:
These nutrition changes had tangible benefits,such as:
Weight drop of almost 20lbs
Incredible increase in energy
Chronically high cholesterol dropped to within the normal range without medication. This saved $20,000 in long-term drug costs.
Most of these ideas aren’t new secrets or tricks. They've been floating around for years. Michael Pollan and his book Ominore’s Dilema (2006) first started taking apart the western diet, and what we’ve done is distilled the common sense that people like Pollan have been preaching into a system that works for us.
Here are our secrets and we hope you find that they work for you. At the end we even share some super simple, healthy recipes! If we can make them then we know you’ll do just fine.
Tip #1: Cut out all that extra, refined sugar
Pollan suggests the simple trick that if sugar is in the top 3 items on the ingredient list then you shouldn’t eat it. We took it further and try to cut sugar out entirely.
You’d be surprised how easy this is. You’ll need to go through and purge the fridge and pantry and be prepared for sugar cravings, in just 14 days you can make the switch. You’ll never look back. Well, ok you might look back. We still indulge in the odd piece of candy.
Tip #2: Reduce or eliminate grain-based carbs
Richard had to reduce his intake of grains (think pasta, or toast or waffles…mmm, waffles) as part of his recovery, as big portions of grain-based carbs left him feeling exhausted.
He cut grains out of his diet completely. At first, it was tough. He had cravings for some cereal and toast at breakfast, while dinner felt strange without pasta 3-4 times a week.
However, cutting out grains was a great change for him. Not only did it help him drop almost 20 pounds over 12 months, but he also discovered Tip #3, #4 and #5!
The hardest meal to give up grains for was breakfast, specifically cereal or toast. Richard now has 2 glasses of water and a lot of scrambled eggs for breakfast (he’s becoming a connoisseur of scrambled egg recipes!)
Tip #3: Eat more Vegetables
This one is easy. Eat. More. Vegetables. But there is a secret. Eat more vegetables that are cooked with healthy oils. Oh my, how good are green beans sauteed with garlic and olive oil? Or farmers market carrots roasted with some maple syrup, pepper and more olive oil? Or learn to make your own vinaigrette and unlock healthy salads? Or roasted tomatoes with Oregano and Parmesan cheese.
Once you learn a few tricks to make your veggies delicious (each of which takes 1-2 minutes of prep) having vegetables at each meal is something you look forward to.
Tip #4: Flip up your snacks
We used to snack on cereal, toast, cheese, crackers, yogurt and bananas. Anytime we were hungry, we would simply grab one of the above and chow down.
We made a change to different snacks, specifically more natural food that is better for our body. We now grab a handful of mixed nuts or else an apple when hungry.
You could also try adding a protein shake to your day, especially if you’re having a particularly active day. Now, we’ve found a lot protein powders cause stomach and other gastrointestinal issues, which sucks because when we bike to work we like having a shake. Having a half scoop of Vega Protein Powder doesn’t seem to give any discomfort and so far it is the best brand we’ve encountered.
Tip #5: Simplify Your Lunch
As humans we are adding more and more complexity to our meals. We make the process of eating healthy tough. How many times have you said: “I can’t be bothered to make a meal” and instead you eat something terrible for you? If you’re like us, probably too many.
We stumbled upon simplification as part of cutting out carbs and sugar. This got rid of most pre-packaged food. Lunch was the hardest hit, as we lost our sandwich, yogurt and health bar.
Instead, we found a solution in making every lunch the same: an apple, veggies, nuts, a chunk of dried meat and a piece of cheese. Whether in the city or on the trail, our lunches are the same. This is such an easy lunch to make, and it’s a great mix of flavours and textures.
What about snacks? Nobody’s perfect, right? One of our favourite snacks are Kind Bars, which you can get from Costco at a great price.
Tip #6: Drink More Water
We all know we aren’t drinking enough water, and this is SO simple to fix.
Our first trick is to add some electrolytes! We love the Vega Sport Electrolytes, especially the Lemon Lime. Have one of these in the morning when you wake up and another before bed. It really helps to keep us feeling great (those of us with a house full of young kids know how hard that can be!).
During the day, we also work to drink water a lot more often. Take a water bottle and fill it up throughout the day. Don’t get another coffee or tea unless you drink and refill your water bottle at the same time.
The benefit of drinking more water is that we found a lot of fatigue was actually related to being dehydrated. Next time you’re tuckered out have some water with electrolytes and notice how you feel better in 45 minutes.
Tip #7: Fat is your friend
Richard ended up taking a lot out of his diet as part of his recovery. But one area that he really added was fat. Especially olive oil and avocado oil. These two oils have lots of health attributes, are delicious and great for cooking.
The biggest difference he noticed from adding a lot more fat is that he felt so full after smaller meals. Sometimes he’ll simply have a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil as a snack and it will kill his hunger.
His secret tip is to start the day off right and add avocado oil or Coconut oil to your coffee each morning. Yumm!
Tip #8: Intermittent Fasting
Are you dominated by food? Can you imagine a day without food. Trying a fast is a great way to take control of your hunger.
Not eating for a whole day is something to try, but not a suitable option for most of us who are outdoors so much. Instead, we discovered Intermittent Fasting, which is shorter fasting that has linked to longevity in research. It’s a big trend in Silicon Valley these days, associated with health improvement and weight loss.
For us, we work to do three 16-hour fasts a week. We start right after dinner and then don’t eat until mid-morning the next day.
Make sure to drink lots of water during this time. You also get to savour your coffee each morning.
We’ve found intermittent fasting helps to clear the mind, increase our energy and improve our overall mood.
Fasting also has a real simple benefit - it cuts down snacking at night. This helps if you are trying to lose weight.
Finally, fasting is a great psychological boost, allowing you to prove that you have control over your hunger and that you are in control of your diet!
Tip #9: Cut down on booze
Who doesn’t love a glass of wine after a hard day or a beer after a great hike? But drinking alcohol conflicts with a lot of the other tips. It’s got lots of carbs, it dehydrates you, it makes you a bit groggy and you can’t drink if you are fasting.
If you follow the other tips above, alcohol will end up being greatly reduced. You can still have a drink 1-2 times a week, however cutting down on booze helps control your weight and your mood.
A side benefit is that avoiding alcohol after dinner means you can fit in an evening workout! Double Win.
Tip #10: Roll with failures
We look at our diet as something that is imperfect. There are days where we will fail (and eat entire bag of ketchup chips). By knowing upfront that mistakes will happen a bad lunch doesn’t turn into a bad day which doesn’t turn into a bad week of eating. I know a bad meal is built into my plan, so I just start trying to eat healthy the next opportunity.
Psychologically this really works for us.
Finally, here are our favorite, easy vegetable recipes
My easy secret to enjoying all the extra fruits and veggies is to cook them.
This easy recipe allows you to have delicious vegetables for dinner any night. Take one tray and fill it with vegetables (ideally fresh and in-season) and let them bake and brown. That’s the maillard reaction; the carmalizing of the natural sugars.
Cut up some bell peppers, trim some asparagus, broccoli, and cut some Brussel sprouts in half too.
Take that veg, toss it in olive oil add a good amount of salt and pepper and bake them on a cookie tray at 425 for 30-40 minutes.
Add some more oil when you plate and you’re in heaven!
You can also add some favourite herbs if you want, but if you have good produce you don’t need it.
Maple Syrup Roasted Carrots
Another dish we make the even the kids love is roasted carrots.
Cut up some fresh carrots in ¼” slices
Add a lot of olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and tossing with a small amount of maple syrup.
Cover the tray you’re baking them in with tin foil and cook at 425 until the carrots are softened to your liking (usually 30-45 minutes).
Enjoy! Even the kids will love this one!
Italian-style Garlic Sauteed Beans
This is another great one and so easy. We first had it in Italy and it seemed so fresh and delicious we made our own version.
Take some fresh beans, put then in a frying pan with some avocado oil.
Let the beans get nice and tender (3-5 minutes) and once they are tender turn the temperature down (or off)
Then toss on some minced garlic, salt, pepper and a big wallop of good olive oil. Toss for 15 seconds and then take them out of the pan onto a plate. Yumm.
Kick it up a knotch with some chili flakes with the garlic.
These are like mini-pizzas, only all tomato. A real taste sensation.
Take fresh tomatoes and cut them in half.
Place them on a baking tray and top with plenty of salt, pepper, oregano, and grated parmesan cheese.
Bake those until they are soft and delicious and there is a crust on top.
Eat these, however make sure you have left-overs. Tomorrow you can chop these up and add them to some eggs with some cheese and sausage. Whoa, that’s a wonderful breakfast.
Guilt Free Crumble
For dessert we will make a guilt free fruit crumble. How you do you make it guilt free? Hold the crumble!
Slice up some apples (toss in a pear if you want) and toss with a lot of cinnamon and a handful of raisins
Place is a ceramic bowl that has been oiled and cover (with tinfoil) and bake at 425 until it’s soft enough for you (we usually bake between 30-45 minute). Whoa, this is tasty, and it’s just fruit. This is great cold as well, especially in some yogurt. Try other fruits, berries and nuts for a taste sensation.