With the new year's arrival, many of us are expectedly contemplating ways in which to better ourselves for next 12 months. That's good. But while ambition for betterment is undoubtedly the place to start, it's essential that we don't overwhelm ourselves with change. For shifts in behavior to stick – ultimately morphing into habits – a progressive, thoughtful approach will certainly yield the greatest long-term outcome.
I'm pleased to say, however, that changes don't have to be major to deliver meaningful results. In fact, several small, seemingly unimportant shifts can actually lead to lasting life-improving gains.
Coming at it in the same fashion I would approach athletic training, dietary shifts are best done in small increments, which compile to produce significant results. Here are six small shifts I recommend.
Drink a nutrient-packed smoothie for breakfast.
The easiest way to get nutrition into your body is by way of a smoothie. When I first started training seriously, without fail, I'd drink a post-workout blend of nutrient-dense, plant-based whole foods. And since they were in liquid form, digestion was brisk. Liquid nutrition has its advantages, since it requires less blood to be drawn to the stomach, therefore allowing more to circulate in the extremities, speeding oxygen delivery and biological waste removal. By conserving some of the energy spent on digestion, it meant I had more of it. I call this high net gain nutrition: Less energy out, more nutrition in. And that's exactly how you want to start your day. Plus, all that nutrition you're packing in will ward off hunger and allow you to focus on your work until noon, or beyond.
A word of warning, though: Not all smoothies are of equal value. Some, in fact, are of no value at all and contain little more than sugar. When selecting a smoothie, be sure that it is not sweetened with anything. Pure fruit is fine, since it is a functional carbohydrate, meaning that the body will burn it as fuel. Added sugar is beyond what is required out of function. It's purely for taste and a sugar crash will ensue.
Ingredients to include to deliver you the nutrition you need to boost energy and ward off hunger include: hemp seed (protein, EFAs), pea protein/rice protein (complete protein), flax seed (lignans- and omega-3-rich), chia seed (mineral- and omega-3-rich). Also: greens such as spirulina, chlorella, kale, and spinach (minerals, chlorophyll and phytochemicals).
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