As important as exercise is, you just can NOT make up for a bad diet by spending extra hours in the gym.
Nutrition Is Your Key To Success
So, you have chosen a lifestyle of energy, health, fitness and exercise. Ask just about any fitness trainer what the most important part of a well balanced fitness program is and most will probably answer – Exercise. Sure, we’re fitness trainers and that’s how we are conditioned. Well, as a fitness trainer myself and certified strength & conditioning specialist, I would have to strongly disagree with this far too common misconception.
This might sound backwards coming from someone who comes from a background dedicated to exercise, but there is an old motto that holds the truth…
No Matter How Hard You Train, You Simply Can’t Out Train A Bad Nutritional Plan
Think about it for a second and I’ll give you a quick example:
Imagine, you’re at the gym and you jump on a treadmill. The incline is set, there are absolutely no distractions and you’re zooming for an hour straight. When it’s all said and done, you burned a total of 500 calories – maybe 600 at most. You get home you feel great but all that work makes you hungry of course. Knowing that your post workout meal is important you put together a healthy low calorie dish. You are doing great and you are proud of your accomplishments. The next day you perform the exact same routine… A great workout followed by a perfectly balanced meal. Later that night your friends give you a call and they all want to go out for a quick social get together.
You think, what’s the harm? I’ve been good all week and now I deserve a little reward for all my efforts. With that, you accept the invite and off you go to meet your friends.
Before you know it, you get chatting and the beverages start flowing. First you started off with a vodka and diet Coke – it is, after all, the lowest calorie alcohol. Feeling good about your choice, you decide you still have yet to reward yourself and order a jumbo pina colada. Now the damage is done. Most cocktail beverages easily pack in a good 500-600 each and you didn’t stop at just one. Once your inhibitions were lowered, you proceeded to have three before the night was out.
Not only that but you were so overcome with your good mood after a hard work week that you decided to order up a plate of BBQ wings and then split a piece of German Chocolate Cake with Cherry and Caramel Drizzle with your friend. Now you’re easily looking at a 3000 calorie outing.
This 3000 calorie outing may have just in fact cancelled out the entire week’s worth of progress you made in the gym and with your diet. Essentially, that almost equates to one entire pound of body fat. Since there are 3500 calories per pound of fat and you consumed just about that amount on your social outing, you’ll have really done yourself in.
As you can clearly see by this simple illustration, it’s very easy to undo your effort if you’re not constantly making the right choices.
This doesn’t mean you can never indulge and treat yourself, but you must plan for it and still keep it in moderation. A 3000 calorie night out is not practicing moderation.
Phase 1 – Know Your Metabolism
The very first step is to make sure that you understand your metabolism. Your metabolism essentially represents how many calories your body burns on a daily basis just to stay alive. This includes the energy it takes to keep your heart beating, your lunges breathing, your brain functioning, your digestive system working effectively, as well as any other movements that you may perform throughout the course of the day.
The faster the metabolism you have, the more calories you burn over the course of the day and thus, the faster you will see fat loss take place. This rate is influenced by factors such as your total amount of lean body mass, your exercise volumes and intensity levels, as well as the foods you consume on a day to day basis.
If you work hard, you can actually increase your metabolism naturally so you’ll burn more calories over the course of the entire day. For most people, this is the primary goal.
As a general guideline to use, most individuals will find that their daily metabolic rate, including moderate activity levels (say 3-5 gym workouts per week) is between 13 and 15 calories per pound of body weight.
So you’d take however much you currently weigh in pounds and multiply that by 13 to 15 to get your daily maintenance calorie requirements. If you are someone who is more active (has an active job) use the higher end of that range, while if you’re less active, use the lower end.
Now to get fat loss happening, you’ll want to take in fewer calories than this number you arrived at, keeping in mind it totals a 3500 calorie deficit to equate to one pound of body fat.
Keep in mind that this is just a starting point though and you must learn your own metabolism. Once you know how many calories you’re consuming, if you aren’t losing weight, your metabolism is slightly slower than you thought. If you are losing weight at an acceptable rate, you’re right on track.
Structuring the perfect meal
It’s easier than you think!
When structuring each meal, the easiest strategy is to follow the simple 4 step plan:
Step one – begin each meal by meeting your protein requirements. Remember that most people will need about 20-30 grams of protein per meal to meet their daily total requirements of one gram per pound.
Step two – Load up on the vegetables and fruits. As for a general rule, since fruit typically increases blood sugar levels consume fruits either early in the day or post workout when blood sugar levels are typically lower.
Step three – keep the meal within you per meal caloric budget (as calculated in phase 1). If and only if you are still within your caloric budget, then you can moderately add “Quality Carbs” to fill the remaining caloric demands.
Step four – do not allow fat content to exceed 30% of the caloric value of the meal. Of this, fats should be consumed from non animal source “healthy fats”