It’s that time again. It’s a new year and there is no better time to set a new fitness goal for yourself and stick to it. To help you along the way, we’ve outlined a 5-step nutrition guide that we give to all first-time clients, no matter if they are just looking to get in better shape, compete in a sport, or to step onstage in a physique contest. Pay close attention to the steps below along your transformation journey and the odds of you achieving success are virtually guaranteed.
Our bodies are made up of over 75% water. Without proper hydration, we will very quickly impair normal body function. For health, body composition and/or athletic performance, it is extremely important that we drink adequate amounts of water. At a minimum, aim for 4-6 liters of water per day (and at least 1 liter before and during training) Here are some of the main benefits of optimal water intake:
- Helps to control cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can cause excessive oxidative stress to the body and brain. High cortisol levels also impair your ability to lose weight.
- Helps to regulate body temperature, especially important during exercise.
- Delivers nutrients and oxygen throughout the body
- Helps to detoxify your kidneys and liver, especially from environmental pollution and the poisons we unknowingly eat
- Helps with the absorption of your vitamins and minerals
- Helps to protect your body from injury by lubricating the joints
2. FISH OIL
Of all the supplements you can take, one of the most important is fish oil, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. Our modern diet does not provide nearly enough of this critical nutrient as we need, which is why it’s so important to take additional Omega 3’s through supplementation. Make sure the brand you select has very high amounts of EPA and DHA for optimal benefit. Here are some reasons why Omega-3’s are so important:
- Omega 3’s help to switch off the genes that store fat (lipogenic) and to turn on the genes that break down fat (lipolytic)
- Help to increase utilization of fat stores as energy from the fat cells
- Helps to reduce inflammation causes by sports and intense training.
- Reduces pain as a result of decreased inflammation
- Helps to improve mental focus, memory and overall brain function
- Increases levels of serotonin (makes you feel happy), which has a very positive effect on mood and control of carb cravings
- They can help to reduce risk of a laundry list of diseases, including heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure and diabetes
One of the most important pieces of the puzzle to help you reach your goals is protein. Protein is essential for rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue, as well as for overall good health. Meeting your daily protein goal is critical to achieving rapid results. We recommend at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, spread out over the day (including protein shakes when necessary). Some of the key benefits of optimal protein intake include:
- Muscle growth, strength and repair
- Enhanced recovery time between games
- Immune system function (especially organic whey protein)
- Weight Loss/Weight Management
- Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, and also helps to control hunger
4. CARBOHYDRATES & FIBER
Carbohydrates often get a bad rap in the media but the truth is that they play an important role as a source of energy and for overall health. The key is to choose the right sources of carbs to cause positive changes in your performance. You always want to make sure that your blood sugar levels are stable throughout the day so that you control your insulin levels. When insulin is raised at the wrong time, your body will store excessive amounts of fat. Here are two carbohydrate rules you should always remember throughout your nutrition program:
- Fibrous carbs from veggies such as broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, green beans, kale and spinach should be your primary source throughout the day. Fibrous carbs do not spike your blood sugar levels, which is great if you are trying to lose body fat. You can also eat these in unlimited amounts.
- Dramatically reduce the amount of grains you eat. Wheat (found in breads, pastas) is the most important one to avoid while you are on the nutrition program. Wheat contains gluten, which may be the cause of many unwanted food allergy responses such as suppressed immune function and excessive inflammation.
5. VITAMINS & MINERALS
Vitamins and minerals are the final step in your success guide. Think of them as an insurance policy for your body. A single deficiency from a specific vitamin or mineral can contribute to multiple health issues, which is why we believe it’s so important to add the following supplements to your program:
- Vitamin D intake can improve immune function; reduce frequency and duration of cold and flu infections, Increase bone strength (more than calcium), improve athletic performance and strength and help with body composition. In short, it is an all-around powerhouse.
- Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that is important for improving the strength and durability of muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments. New research has also shown Vitamin C can help in reducing the stress hormone cortisol after exercise.
- Zinc Citrate intake can improve sleep quality, boost the immune system, enhance recovery and support testosterone levels.
- Magnesium Bisglycinate is shown in research to help keep cortisol levels under control and can play a role in reducing stress levels to improve recovery from training.
- Vitamin B6 is critical to help the metabolism of minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
Strong-Athlete.com is the brainchild of two dedicated, life-long athletes who have spent over two decades competing in sport at the highest level, studying under the best coaches on the planet, and helping countless clients achieve their goals. We specialize in personal training, athletic training and online nutrition consulting. Follow us at www.facebook.com/strongathletes or at www.twitter.com/strongathlete