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Healthy Substitutions for the Foods You Love

There is a reason why athletes choose to eat pastas, fruits and vegetables rather than fast food burgers and fries before their next competition, and it is not solely to avoid performing on a queasy stomach. The perfect balance of calories and nutrients gives athletes the stamina they need to perform at their best. Healthy eating is an essential part of life beyond athletics as well. Whether competing in half marathons is your thing or taking a stroll through the park sounds more appealing, making smart food choices is essential to boosting energy levels and maintaining a healthy lifestyle overall. Although it is difficult to be sure that your nutrient scales are in balance, starting with these simple substitutions will get you on the right track.

  • Almost every version of a product can be found in reduced-fat or fat-free versions. Fat is one of the worst suppressors of energy. Replace your salad dressing, mayonnaise, hot dogs, crackers, and dairy products with reduced-fat options.
  • Replace whole milk with skim milk, 1 percent, or 2 percent and spare fat grams while keeping up on your protein supply.
  • Feed the ice cream craving with sherbet or frozen yogurt.
  • Replace greasy bacon with Canadian bacon, lean ham or turkey bacon.
  • Swap two egg whites or egg substitute for that whole egg, and keep your morning sunny-side-up with lower calories and cholesterol!
  • Although limited amounts of raw nuts are encouraged as part of a daily diet, this snack is high in fat. If eating too many nuts in a day is a problem, try dried fruit such as raisins or dried cranberries instead.
  • Cook with corn, cottonseed, olive, canola, safflower, sesame, soybean, or sunflower oil instead of coconut oil and palm oil.
  • Change up your sandwich with mustard instead of mayo.
  • Enjoy your bagel with 2 teaspoons of cream cheese or jam instead of all that butter.
  • If you need a salty snack, replace potato chips with baked chips, pretzels, or unbuttered popcorn. The popcorn option saves you 60 calories per ounce!
  • Eat a granola bar or banana instead of a candy bar when you feel that sweet tooth coming on.
  • Replace white rice with brown rice.
  • Snacking on crackers can get you in big trouble! Choose low fat and reduced sodium crackers and be sure to count out the serving before you snack.
  • Celebrate with angel food cake instead of chocolate, yellow, or pound cake.
  • Enjoy a treat with graham crackers or reduced fat cookies instead of regular cookies.
  • Start your day with an English muffin or a bagel instead of a donut, scone, muffin, or pastry.
  • Dip your chips in salsa instead of guacamole dip or refried beans!
  • Drink Lots of Water!. The benefits of drinking water are endless. Water helps flush toxins out of your body that, among other things, reduce your energy supply. Stay hydrated with 6-8 glasses of water per day!
  • When in doubt, grab fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and veggies throughout the day adds countless benefits to your health. The fiber and nutrients gained from this snack will make you feel brand new!

If you are not sure where to start, head to your cupboard and your fridge and write down every food that could be replaced with a healthier substitution. Next time you go to the store, keep these tips in mind. Come up with new recipes and explore foods you have never tried before; stocking the food cupboards will become more fun! There is no better day to change your lifestyle for the better than today!

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