Arguably the most important aspect of one's journey to becoming more fit is nutrition. What you eat has a direct connection to how you feel and your performance in the gym. No matter how hard you train, you can't outrain a bad diet.
A nutritious diet is essential to one's well-being, both in and out of the gym. The CDC reports that fewer than 1 in 10 adults eat enough fruits and vegetables. This statistic is extremely alarming, especially since teenagers usually follow their parents examples. Additionally, the CDC says that in general, diets in the US are much higher in sugar, sodium, and saturated fats than the rest of the world. So what's the solution?
Keep it simple
The best way to start eating cleaner is to just keep it simple. Start with small changes that you can maintain instead of changing every meal. Nutritionist Brittany Dillon suggests changes like trying not to drink sugar calories and aiming for leaner protein choices like chicken, fish and turkey. Additionally, you'll want to track your calories. Tracking your calories is the best way to make sure you're on pace to accomplish your fitness goals because it allows you to hold yourself accountable. A simple google search of "How many calories do I need" will come up with websites that will tell you how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight/physique. If your goal is to build muscle, you'll want to eat in a surplus, which means you should eat 200-300 calories more than the amount. If your goal is to lose weight, you should eat 200-300 calories less than the amount.
Nutrition and fitness
When you start lifting, you'll also want to prioritize eating certain meals at certain times to ensure you're full of energy when you lift. The best way to do this is to consume long digesting carbohydrates around 1 hour before you enter the gym. Examples include sweet potatoes, nuts, and fruits which will digest slowly and give you energy throughout your entire workout. After exercise, you'll want to prioritize replenishing your glycogen stores and repairing the muscle fibers you tore while working out. To do this, I recommend a protein shake with around 25 grams of protein as your body only digests 25 grams of protein at a time.