Just because you may exercise regularly doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. By following these 10 basic guidelines, you’ll not only get great muscle-building and fat-burning results from your training, but you’ll enjoy a higher level of energy throughout the day.
Tip 1: Eat six meals a day
If you’ve been following the typical nutritional advice of cutting back on calories and consuming no more than “three square meals” a day in the hope of shifting your fat-burning efforts into high gear, you may actually be throwing the whole process into reverse. According to scientists at Georgia State University, active folks who skimp on calories and eat infrequently (only three times a day) may be training their bodies to get by on less energy and therefore more readily storing unburned calories as bodyfat. Instead, these researchers and many others advise active people to eat frequently (about every three hours) to accelerate metabolism and maintain steady energy levels throughout the day. We have provided you with a sample seven day meal plan for you to look at.
Tip 2: Combine carbohydrates and protein at every meal
The simple fact is, our bodies work better with a balance of carbohydrates and protein. Not only is protein essential for building healthy muscle and maintaining a strong immune system, it stabilizes insulin levels, which leads to steady energy throughout the day. One more benefit: eating protein has been shown to reduce your appetite. So, avoid high-carbohydrate nutrition plans and instead balance your protein and carbohydrate intake.
Tip 3: Choose “appropriate” portion sizes
USDA statistics show that because of increased portion sizes, the average total daily calorie intake has risen from 1,854 calories to 2,002 calories over the last 20 years. That increase—148 calories per day—theoretically works out to an extra 15 lbs. every year. Portion size is important to weight management. Employ a common sense approach, such as using the palm of your hand or your clenched fist for gauging the portion sizes of food.
Tip 4: Plan meals ahead of time
You may even want to try different recipes and decide what works for you before you begin your training program. Experiment with different seasonings, try a variety of vegetables, and find which microwave settings work best for preheating food. By the time you’re ready to start, you’ll have the supplies you need and the confidence that you know what you’re doing. Then, fix your meals in advance and freeze them. It’s important to shop at least once a week. If you forget, you’ll run out of good food and be tempted to cheat on your diet.
Tip 5: Get containers to store your food
Purchase plastic storage containers, sports bottles, a water jug and a cooler to store and carry your food. Having nutritious meals within reach during a hectic day can keep you on track.
Tip 6: Drink 10 glasses of water every day
It’s especially important to stay well hydrated when following a comprehensive training, nutrition, and supplementation program. Drink at least one glass of water with each of your six meals, and four more throughout the day. If you have an occasional diet soda, coffee or tea, you’ll need to drink an additional glass to compensate for the diuretic effect of these beverages.
Tip 7: Don’t eat right before or right after you train
If you can, work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for maximum fat burning. Also, waiting an hour to eat after a workout may be an effective strategy for increasing the residual fat-burning effects of exercise. EAS also recommends to avoid eating right before going to bed. This strategy has also been shown to stimulate muscle-protein synthesis and muscle growth.
Tip 8: Use high-quality supplements
Supplements can help make up for any nutritional deficiencies and enhance performance. When purchasing supplements, look for companies that invest heavily in research to maximize the effectiveness of their products.
Tip 9: Find your “emotional reason” for staying on track
Researchers at George Washington University discovered that people who successfully transform their bodies are set in action by some sort of “emotional trigger” that helps to clarify their reasons for deciding to make change. In the study, researchers found that any event which elicited strong emotions such as alarm, embarrassment, shame and/or fear actually inspired people to transform their bodies for the better. Take a moment to consider your “emotional trigger” and use it to stay committed to your nutrition program.
Tip 10: Strive for consistency, not perfection
You can be sure there will be the occasional meal or snack that’s not on the recommended food list. When you get off track in this way, don’t allow it to slow you down. Enjoy the divergence, recommit to your goal, and get back on track with your next meal.