One of the hardest parts of living a healthy lifestyle is finding and cooking balanced, healthy, delicious meals. What makes a meal balanced is a good ratio of the necessary macro and micro-nutrients. This means protein from complete, healthy sources (such as salmon, turkey or eggs), fiber and starches, high-quality healthy fats and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. When using the IsaLean diet, it is recommended that you consume 1-2 shakes a day and provide the body with 1-2 small, healthy meals.
Step 1 : pick a protein source
Protein is the building block of muscle and assists in the fat loss process. Proteins are also slow to digest and improve metabolic and digestive health, giving you a huge variety of health benefits – your protein sources should be the starting point for your meal and provide a great way to create a filling low-calorie meal.
The best protein sources of weight loss are lean or high in healthy fats. For example, turkey is a great protein source because it is low in calories and high in protein. Alternatively, salmon is a great choice because it contains healthy omega-3 fats! Here’s a short list of some of our favourite sources:
- Chicken breast
- Grass-fed beef
- Egg whites
- Cottage cheese
- Greek-style yoghurt
Step 2: select healthy carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and break down into 3 groups: fiber, starches and sugars. Fiber is non-digestible but absolutely essential for the body, promoting digestive health and improved metabolic regularity. Starches are the main source of energy that you should include in your diet and come from legumes, potatoes and whole grains. Sugars should be restricted in the diet as they are fast-absorbing and can have negative health effects if consumed in even “normal” quantities.
Focusing on complex starches and fibers gives you the best slow-releasing energy, which keeps you energized throughout the day and keeps the metabolism and blood sugar levels constant. Some of the best sources of dietary fiber and complex carbs are:
- Legumes (beans, chickpeas etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Wholegrain pasta
Step 3: healthy fats
Fats have a bad reputation because people assume that eating fat makes you fat. This isn’t how it works, and dietary fats are arguably more important than NET carbohydrates because some of them are essential and they are necessary for the absorption of key vitamins and minerals.
The best fats are polyunsaturated, such as those found in olive or argan oils, though there are many healthy fats on the market in different forms. Nuts and seeds are full of fantastic healthy oils, whilst Coconut or MCT oil provide healthy forms of saturated fat. Adding these to your meal will considerably boost the calorie count so be sure to choose either healthy fats from plant foods or a high-fat piece of fish or meat!
Step 4: all the vegetables!
Fruits and vegetables are amazing for health because they’re packed with dietary fiber and micronutrients. The vitamins and minerals in vegetables are great for your health and promote optimum efficiency in the body, supporting all kinds of processes from fat loss and muscle gain to immune function and preventing chronic disease.
Start with dark leafy greens and work your way through the rainbow! We suggest eating as much of these fantastic plant foods as possible, with a minimum of 1 cup of low-calorie, nutrient-dense veggies per meal. Some of our favorite vegetables are:
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
Step 5: don’t forget your herbs and spices!
Herbs and spices are amazing for health – there’s a reason they’ve been used extensively in traditional medicines! Not only do herbs and spices replace sugary sauces, they also offer a wide variety of health benefits – experiment with fresh seasonings to provide fantastic taste to your meals whilst also adding a huge boost to the health-promoting effects that you receive!
Creating delicious meals to complement your shake days is easy and gives you control over the success of your diet and the results you can expect. It is a simple matter of starting with lean proteins, complex carbs and fiber, healthy fats and all the veggies! Whether you’re on a 1-shake day or 2, this approach to meal planning will ensure that your diet provides all the nutritional support you need, from healthy IsaLean shakes and fantastic whole food sources. Check out The Healthy Lifestyle pak guide & Isagenix Diet for more information.