The real mental discipline of getting in shape does not only come from exercising every day. As a matter of fact, the majority of it comes from learning and living proper nutrition! Though the gym probably takes up an hour of our day, eating properly takes up the remaining 15-17 hours (assuming you are hopefully sleeping for 6-8 hours). Combine this large time frame with stress, emotions, boredom, or the fact that many foods just taste too damn good, and you are looking at a recipe for disaster in fitness. However, it doesn’t have to be that difficult! If you are looking to get in incredible shape and achieve your goals, rise above the stress and taste of junk food by keeping your “why” in the back of your mind. Follow these ten laws of nutrition to achieve the body that you’ve always wanted:
1.) Keep it small, keep it frequent. 5-6 small, well-balanced meals eaten every 3 to 3.5 hours per day are what you must be aiming for to lose body fat and increase muscle mass. No, this is not easy to do, but it works for those who do it.
2.) The most important meal of the day! You’ve heard it since you were a kid and it’s true; breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it kick-starts your metabolism and starts your day off strong.
3.) The power of protein. Protein helps to build the muscle and aids in burning body fat. For physically active individuals, men should aim for 1 gram of protein daily per pound of body weight, and women should aim for 0.8 grams. Great sources include chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, and lean beef. Certain protein shakes and bars are beneficial as well, but as supplements to meals. Make protein your secret muscle-building weapon.
4.) Fuel up with carbs. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy, and we need them for fuel. Physically active men should aim for 1.5 grams of carbs daily per pound of bodyweight, and women should aim for 1 gram. Great complex carbohydrate sources include baked and sweet potatoes, brown rice, and oatmeal. Carbs are not the bad guy!
5.) Eat fats to burn fat. Yes, we need fats in our diet. Healthy fats, that is! They will help to balance hormones, speed up the metabolism, and control cravings. Go with 0.4 grams of healthy fats per pound of body weight for physically active men, and 0.3 grams of healthy fats for physically active women. Go with sources such as nuts, almonds, avocados, olive oil, and canola oil.
6.) Remember your fruits and veggies! Remember the important vitamins and minerals that are found in fruits and vegetables, along with fiber. Protect yourself against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease by getting in enough of what your mother always told you to eat!
7.) Get your “High Quality H2O”. Ok, maybe Adam Sandler as The Waterboy said it best, but you have to be getting in an adequate amount of water every day. Water plays a vital role in muscle function, energy improvement, weight loss, and helps the immune system. Physically active men should be getting at least ¾ of a gallon per day, and physically active women should be getting at least ½ of a gallon per day!
8.) Pre- and post-workout meals. Remember to fuel up with 25-35 grams of slow digesting carbs pre-workout with 10-15 grams of protein as well, and 30-40 grams of protein post-workout, along with some fast-acting carbs. Pre- and post-training meals help to feed the body when it is under physical stress!
9.) Reward yourself! For one meal per week, have something that you are craving! If you make good choices all week, this can mean whatever you’d like to have! Of course, be sure not to overdo it as binge eating can make you sick, but you can certainly indulge in a good cheat meal if you have been on point all week. Save it for a good occasion and make it worth it!
10.) Track your progress. I’ve been working out years before any kind of App (or smartphone for that matter) was invented, so originally I would tell you to use a notebook and pen to track your meals. However, there are so many amazing apps out there today (my favorite is MyFitnessPal) that you can use to record your nutrition! Whether you write all of this down or use an App, tracking your progress will certainly help you stay on the right path!