Healthy eating is rather simple in theory but a bit tougher in practice. Getting all of your ducks in a row when it comes to calories, macronutrients and how they all work toward a healthier you can be somewhat of a juggling act with no end in sight.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Al l you need is a simple breakdown and understanding of the following 5 ingredients of a healthy diet so you can gain a little muscle, lose a little fat and feel and look better.
Ample amounts of protein
It’s pretty much common knowledge now that protein is essential to a healthy diet. Not only is it a requirement when it comes to tissue repair and building muscle. It’s not so common knowledge that it also will greatly affect metabolism (in a positive way) and create satiety and let you forego unwanted calories. The general rule is to take in roughly 1 gram per pound of body weight or, if losing weight is your goal, take in 1 gram per pound of goal body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and your goal is 180, go for 180 grams of protein.
The right kind of carbs
Contrary to popular belief and media hype carbs are not the villainous enemy they have been painted to be. Carbs are essential not only for ample energy to fuel training; they are also chalk full of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Additionally, the right kinds of carbs are important as well. Carbs that are complex in nature are better for lower blood sugar levels, steady energy and avoiding fat storage. Oatmeal, potatoes, rice and 100% whole wheat breads and pasta are the best for your money. The trick is to not go overboard when it comes to amounts. Start with 2 grams per pound of bodyweight or 2 grams per pound of goal weight – much like how protein is calculated above.
Some healthy fats
Once thought of as the red-headed step-child of the family of macronutrients fat has a myriad of benefits once never thought of. In addition to satiety and heart health, fat also has the power to regulate testosterone among other key hormones. Of course, a little goes a long way; fat contains 9 calories per gram. Go for .7 to .8 grams per pound of body weight or around 20% of your total daily calories.
Plenty of water
Taken for granted, water is literally the essence of life. Since water makes up around 70-80% of our bodies, you can easily see its importance. Moreover, if you are one that exercises on a regular basis and depending on your intensity levels, you may need more than the average Joe. If you are the average lifter you may need up to a gallon per day. Yes, that sounds like a lot, but once you start to drink more water you will find out rather quickly that you need it more than you think.
With all the above said one of the most important factors, if not the most important is the principle of balance. Going to extremes in any one direction isn’t the wisest choice. Staying balanced, making one small but significant change at a time will progress you further in the long run and give you real, solid results better than any quick fix could. Along with balance you will need patience and consistency to see your efforts through. Then you will finally get a solid hold of your diet and make it work for you instead of against you.
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