10 Nutrition Basics for Building a Better Body
Without accurate information about nutrition, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to build a strong, better body.
Today we have more access to information on “eating right” than ever before. Broadcast and print media, the Internet and innumerable diet books. Fitness “experts,” and even family practitioners are quick to offer advice concerning optimal nutrition for building a better body.
So we have access to a lot of information?and a lot of answers. That’s great, right?
Not so fast.
What we really have, is a junk heap of false conclusions, endless contradictions, and half-baked nutrition theories that are creating so much uncertainty and confusion, most people don’t know which way to turn.
No doubt about it, the greatest challenge before us today is not a lack of information about nutrition but rather too darn much information. We’re in an information blizzard that’s making it hard to find the right path. Sometimes, however, you’ve got to go back to the basics to regain some clarity and get back on track.
10 Tips to Get Yourself on the Right Track to a Better Body
Principle #1 Eat Intentionally, Not Accidentally.
Many people eat just when they’re hungry or when it’s convenient. This slows their metabolisms and sabotages their eating plans. To get results, you have to prepare ahead of time by planning and even pre-cooking your meals. This will keep you off the path of temptation. Scientific research has shown that people who keep nutrition diaries and make daily progress reports. Far more successful at changing body composition than people who don’t record their eating patterns.
Try using a calendar to track your nutrition and training program. If you stay on your diet on a particular day, place one line through that day. If you also exercised that day, place another line through that day. (The two lines form an X.) After a few weeks, look over the calendar to review what you’ve done. If you see nothing but slashes and X’s, your program’s on track! On the other hand, if you see a lot of spaces and very few X’s, you’ll know you need to be more committed.
Home Cooked Meals
Start cooking! Cook up a week’s worth of food on a Sunday evening and then freeze it. By doing this, they found it easier to stick with their nutrition plan and not “cheat” during the week.
Plan your grocery shopping. Another thing you can do to help adopt this new pattern of eating is to make sure your cupboards and refrigerator are stocked with authorized foods (see Principle #3). If you don’t plan to have these foods available when and where you need them, it could be difficult to stick to your nutrition program. Planning your meals starts with making a list before you go to the grocery store. Stock up only on quality sources of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
Principle #2 Don’t Starve Yourself.
Drastically limiting your caloric intake in an effort to lose fat or get “cut” may be almost as destructive to your transformation efforts as it would be to eat sticks of butter for breakfast. By reducing the amount of calories you consume to an amount less than eight times your bodyweight?as some of those “fad diets” suggest you do (i.e., the grapefruit, onion-soup, and other such bogus diets)?studies show you’re actually causing your basal metabolic rate to slow down, which is the last thing you want to have happen when you’re trying to shed fat. Furthermore, most of the weight you lose during calorie restriction comes at the expense of lean body mass, not adipose tissue?it’s kinda like the Special K slogan flipped upside down: “Keep the fat, burn the muscle.” Not good.
A much healthier, much more effective strategy is to eat smaller meals six times a day (see principle #4). By feeding your body high-protein, low-fat foods frequently throughout the day, you’re avoiding hunger pangs, optimizing building muscle, and you’re not messing with your metabolic machinery.
Principle #3 Feed Your Better Body with Quality Foods.
Think about this for a moment: Within a year, virtually every cell which makes up the body you have right now will be gone. It’s true! The fact of the matter is, your entire body is “re-created” every year. Out with the old, in with the new. Your skin, your muscles, even your organs are constantly degenerating and regenerating.
So, what do you think your body uses to re-create itself? Where does it get the raw materials to construct new skin cells, brain cells, muscle cells, bone cells, blood cells-even a new heart? If you guess “food,” you’re right. Yes, you really are what you eat! That’s why it’s so important for you to start consistently feeding your better body what it needs to build the “new you” that you want to be.
Choose a portion of protein and carbohydrates from each column to make a single meal. Remember, a portion is the size of your clenched fist or the palm of your hand. Also be sure to include plenty of vegetables with your meals whenever possible.
Principle #4 Consume Six Meals Per Day.
The traditional nutritional advice to eat three meals per day and avoid “snacking” between meals can actually slow your metabolism and increase bodyfat storage. Recent research demonstrates that active people who eat only three times per day may be training their bodies to get by on less energy and therefore more readily storing unburned calories as bodyfat.
This coincides with previous findings, which have shown that frequent feedings tend to promote more stable blood-sugar levels, the optimal absorption of foodstuffs, and an increased metabolic rate. So, for optimal muscle-building and fat-burning effects, researchers agree that active individuals require six small, balanced meals throughout the day. Remember, a meal can be as simple as a portion of cottage cheese mixed with a portion of fruit or yogurt. Also convenient if you’re short on time are meal-replacement shakes, which come in both powder and ready-to-drink form.
Principle #5 Choose “Appropriate” Portion Sizes.
USDA statistics show that because of increased portion sizes, the average American’s total daily calorie intake has risen from 1,854 to 2,002 over the last 20 years. That increase-148 calories per day-theoretically works out to an extra 15 lbs every year.
“Our focus has been distorted by so much emphasis on cutting fat intake at the expense of keeping portion sizes under control,” says Melanie Polk of the American Institute for Cancer Research. “The fact is, we just eat too much.” She and other experts encourage people to employ a common-sense approach, such as using the palm of your hand or your clenched fist for gauging the portion sizes of food.
Principle #6 Combine Carbohydrates and Protein at Every Meal.
In recent years, there have been so many nutritional fads that most people don’t know where to turn for reliable information on how to “eat right.” One that seems to be recommended and followed more often than any other, is the high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein nutrition regimen. This type of diet is recommended by many nutritionists, and even some doctors.
One reason these high-carb, low-fat diets are so popular is that back in 1988, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended we all restrict our consumption of dietary fat. In response, the multibillion-dollar food industry began coming out with fat-free everything?ice cream, cookies, crackers?you name it. In place of fat, more and more carbs were added. Then the myth that “fat free” means “all you can eat” spread like wildfire. Yet, over the past 10 years, we’ve continued to see a dramatic rise in the incidence of obesity.
The fact is, lowering your dietary fat intake and increasing carbohydrate consumption is not the best way to get lean and healthy. Study after study has shown that our bodies work much better with a balance of carbohydrates and protein.
Balance Carbohydrates and Protein
Not only is protein essential for building muscles and maintaining a strong immune system, but it helps stabilize insulin levels as well. Insulin shuttles amino acids and glucose (blood sugar), among other things, into cells. However, when you eat too many carbs over a long period of time, your body can become “insulin resistant,” and you can develop adult-onset diabetes, which can lead to obesity, heart disease, and a whole lot of other health problems, including unstable energy levels and fatigue. Eating a high-carb diet can also stimulate the appetite and cause unfavorable and unpredictable mood swings (especially in the midafternoon). Moreover, whenever insulin levels are elevated, your body will not burn fat.
On the other hand, protein provides stable energy levels through its effect on insulin and blood sugar. Eating protein also helps control your appetite, and research has found that the thermic effect (the increase in energy required for digestion, absorption, and disposal of ingested food) of a protein-rich meal is much greater than a high-carbohydrate meal.
The bottom line is, high-carbohydrate diets work against the body, not with it. The solution is to balance carbohydrate and protein intake.
Principle #7 Use High-Quality Performance Nutrition Formulas.
No matter how much we’d all like to think we’re going to eat six portion-controlled, protein- and carbohydrate-containing whole-food meals throughout the day, every day, the truth is, very few of us will. In today’s world, it’s a rare person who has the time to shop for and prepare multiple nutritionally balanced, complete whole-food meals each and every day.
Fortunately, certain performance nutrition formulas offer a simple solution to this problem. That’s why they have become such popular nutritional supplements. Do these “superfoods” really do anything food itself doesn’t do? The answer to that question is, “Probably not.” High-quality performance nutrition formulas don’t do anything that food itself doesn’t do. They won’t produce “miracle” effects, but they will help your nutrition program by taking a lot of the guesswork out of it. They provide exact portions of high-quality protein, energy-rich carbohydrates and important vitamins and minerals?without the excess junk (the extra calories, the saturated fat).
For a lot of people, these formulas make “eating right” a lot less complicated, which could make your efforts to build muscle and lose fat pay off faster.
Principle #8 Fuel Your Better Body with Protein and Carbs One Hour after Your Workout.
Citing a number of scientific studies which show that waiting an hour after a workout before eating may be an effective strategy for increasing the residual fat-burning effect of exercise. Now, new research is suggesting patience may be a virtue for those looking to gain muscle size and strength as well.
Common sense suggests that after you get done training, your better body needs nutrients. An important time to elicit adaptations in muscle tissue is after an intense workout. This much is a no-brainer. Until just recently, what wasn’t so clear was precisely how long after training we should wait?if at all-before refueling our bodies with critical nutrients to stimulate muscle growth.
Overall, it would appear that it doesn’t matter. Looking to gain muscle, burn fat, or both-waiting an hour after exercise before consuming a carbohydrate- and protein-containing shake may be best.
Principle #9 Drink 10 Glasses of Water Per Day.
Healthy muscle is comprised of more than 70% water. Water is also an essential transport mechanism for a vast array of nutrients like vitamins and minerals and even carbohydrates. It serves an important role in all cellular activity. If your water intake is low, your ability to transport nutrients becomes compromised. Losing strength and feel sluggish because of the buildup of ammonia. Also uric acid, and other junk you don’t want hanging around in your body.
Also, if you happen to be someone who struggles with water retention, one of the best ways to get rid of that is to drink more water, not less. Water retention is just another aspect of your better body’s survival mechanism.
Drinking water can also help you control your appetite. If you find that the portions of food you’re eating don’t quite satisfy you, try drinking another cup of water with your meal. You’ll find this helps alleviate that nagging feeling of not having eaten enough.
Principle #10 Eat Anything You Want Once a Week!
Believe it or not, eating whatever you want, one day a week, may actually aid your muscle-building and fat-fighting efforts.
When you start to burn stored body fat as fuel. Your body’s built-in survival mechanisms kick in and send a signal to your brain that you’re starving. Eating whatever you want one day a week may calm those emergency brain signals.
Planning one “free day” a week in your nutrition program is a good idea. Helping relieve any psychological feelings of deprivation that may build up during the week. Let’s face it, telling yourself to give up all the foods you love, cold turkey, for four weeks. Setting yourself up for failure. Instead of trying to achieve the impossible, then “cheating” and having a hard time getting back to your eating plan. Choose one day a week for guilt-free “cheating.” It will make it much easier to eat well the other six days of the week.
Conclusion in Building a Better Body:
Most coaches, gurus, and self-proclaimed pundits will agree that the principles described constitute a “unified nutrition theory.” Following these rules, along with consistent high-intensity aerobic and weight-training exercise, will help you achieve your goals.