You're Not Eating Enough... Fruit and Veggies, that is!
This might not come as a shock to you, but you need to be eating more fruits and vegetables.
... but how much?
At least 800g to be exact.
The simple habit of eating more fruits and vegetables isn't just about hitting a specific number; it's a powerful tool that can help transform your digestion, body composition, performance, and longevity.
You might wonder why 800 grams specifically? Well, it's not a random figure; it's supported by research conducted in the past decade. This quantity provides a diverse array of nutrients that our bodies need for optimal health. It's not just about quantity; it's about variety. Different fruits and veggies offer a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that collectively contribute to our well-being.
Digestion & Gut Health
One of the most noticeable improvements I've experienced is in my digestion and gut health. Recent research (1) emphasizes how a diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes a thriving gut microbiome. The fiber in these foods acts as a prebiotic, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. A healthier gut means more efficient digestion, better nutrient absorption, and fewer digestive issues. This, in turn, leads to more consistent energy levels and a reduction in bloating, allowing you to perform at your peak.
When it comes to body composition, we often focus on macronutrients and exercise, but the role of fruits and veggies is equally crucial. Recent studies (2) indicate that a higher intake of these foods can help with weight management. They're low in calories but high in volume, keeping us full and satisfied with fewer calories. This makes it easier to maintain a caloric deficit for fat loss or control caloric intake for muscle gain.
My performance in the gym has seen a significant boost too. Fruits and veggies are packed with essential micronutrients. Recent research (3) has highlighted their role in energy production and recovery. For example, vitamin C in fruits like oranges supports collagen production, vital for joint health and injury prevention. Potassium in bananas helps prevent muscle cramps, and the antioxidants combat inflammation and oxidative stress, which can limit our performance.
Longevity & Disease Prevention
A longer, healthier life is what we all aspire to, and increasing our fruit and vegetable intake can contribute to that. Recent research (4) consistently links higher consumption of these foods to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Antioxidants in fruits and veggies help protect our cells and DNA from damage, preventing harmful free radicals from wreaking havoc in our bodies.
Simple Strategies for Success
If you're wondering how to make this 800g goal a reality, here are some practical strategies I've adopted:
- Meal Prep: Dedicate time to prep fruits and veggies – having them ready in the fridge makes it easier to include them in every meal.
- Smoothies: Blend fruits and leafy greens into smoothies for a convenient boost to your daily intake.
- Snacking: Keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or apple wedges on hand to curb your hunger.
- Diverse Choices: Experiment with various fruits and vegetables to keep meals exciting and nutrient-rich. Aim to eat a rainbow of colors.
- Salads: Opt for salads as a main course or a side dish – adding protein like grilled chicken or tofu can turn them into a satisfying meal.
- Sauces and Dips: Incorporate fruits and veggies into sauces and dips, such as tomato-based pasta sauce or guacamole.
Remember, it's about making this a sustainable and enjoyable practice. The 800g goal may seem daunting initially, but as you adapt and incorporate it into your daily routine, you'll experience the incredible benefits for your digestion, body composition, performance, and overall health.
Here's to our shared journey towards optimal health and fitness. Make fruits and veggies the stars of your plate and watch your goals flourish.
Paul Oneid MS MS CSCS
Founder and Head Coach, Master Athletic Performance