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The Vegetable Advantage

Vegetables are another tool for eating better, consistently. They’re a rich source of fiber and loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals. They help your body work the way it's supposed to, and have a big impact on how you physically fee. And while they're high on nutrients, they're low on calories.



NOTE: None of the following should substitute for advice for medical advice. If you have underlying medical conditions, or any concerns at all, speak to your health care provider.

Graphic courtesy of Precision Nutrition

Vegetables are important for health and weight loss because they:

  • Help you feel satisfied at meals

  • Keep you focused

  • Help you maintain energy throughout the day

  • Aid muscle recovery from workouts

  • Keep your digestion regular

  • Help maintain a healthy weight


So how many vegetables do we need each day?


It varies from person to person, but begin by using this guideline:


Image courtesy of Precision Nutrition

For Men & Women: If you're eating 3-4 meals a day, start with 1-2 fists of vegetables per meal



Why all the focus on vegetables but not fruit? Should I be reducing the amount of fruit I consume?


Ideally, you want a mix of colorful vegetables and fruit. Our tastebuds prefer things that are sweet, so getting enough fruit is less of a challenge. Vegetables tend to be less sweet, and some can quite bitter. Our species evolved to avoid bitter tastes, because some of the compounds that result in bitterness can be dangerous. The good news is that exposure alters your tastebuds. How do I know? Coffee is pretty popular. By nature, coffee is bitter. Many people don't like it at first, but because of the upside of the caffeine buzz, they drink it, and their tastebuds adapt over time. If you need more tips in learning to like vegetables, read this.



I eat vegetables at dinnertime, but HOW do I get more vegetables into my other meals?


There are lots of ways! Here are a few ideas to get you started, beyond adding a salad:


  • add greens like spinach or kale to a smoothie

  • substitute some spaghetti squash or spiralized vegetables for some or all of your pasta. (TIP: If you like your pasta al dente, stick with spiralized carrots, which are more toothsome than zucchini. Also, if you know you don't want the extra step of turning veg into noodles, buy frozen ones to have on hand.)

  • snack on convenient raw vegetables like baby carrots, snap peas, persian cucumbers - NO chopping required!

  • roast large sheet pans of vegetables ahead of time, so that you can add them as a side to eggs or other lean protein source (Click here if you want to learn or review which and how much protein.)


The bottom line:


Don't sweat the details. Stay focused on getting protein at each meal.

Remember:

  • Keep the goal the goal

  • Make sure your vegetable goals are SMART (not sure, read this.)

  • Take imperfect action, as often as possible


If someone shared this link with you, and you'd like to receive my monthly guide to healthy eating, sign up at the bottom of the page. If you missed a previous month or more, just email me at karen@360fitnessandcoaching.com and I'll send them to you.





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