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A visit to the food, nutrition and diet section of your local bookstore is a confusing experience. There are books extolling the virtues of low carbs, high carbs, low protein, high protein, vegetarian, all meat, you name it and some doctor-specialist-nutritionist-dietician has a best selling book about it. With so much contradictory information out there, how can we find what nutritional information is correct, and what will work for us?

The nutrition information that applies to you is determined by your fitness goals, and your daily activities. Your nutritional needs will change as your body becomes more fit, and you incorporate different exercise activities into your fitness plan.
The best way to get the nutritional component of your fitness program up and running, is to follow the advice of your certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Living Strong will help you create a custom nutrition plan as part of your fitness training services. If you are a self-motivated learner with an interest in studying diet and nutrition, you could educate yourself through research, trial and error, and experimenting on your own.

Points to Ponder:

Nutrition alone cannot make you healthy.

There are four essential components to living a fit and healthy life.

  1. Appropriate Exercise
  2. Appropriate Nutrition
  3. Appropriate Hydration
  4. Appropriate Rest and Recovery

Nutrition is the fuel for our body to burn. It provides the calories, or energy that our body needs to perform it's activities. What fuel we make available to our body, and how we burn that fuel are primary determining factors of our health and fitness.

GOOD nutrition for one person, may be POOR nutrition for another.
Each person's activities determine what nutrients are needed by their body. A sedentary fat person whose only exercise is walking to and from the car, has different nutrient requirements than a mailman who walks for eight hours a day. Athletes especially have varied nutrient requirements. A marathon runner must eat a different diet than a bodybuilder. Their activities require different levels of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Your personal nutritional requirements will change as you become more active and more fit.

There are no EMPTY calories.

Without the proper nutrients, our body cannot function as it should. The foods that we eat are either building our health, or destroying our health. There are no "empty calories". Each calorie we ingest has potential for FUELING the body, or FOULING the body.

The amount of food your body needs will vary.

You will lose weight if you have a caloric deficit, or take in fewer calories than you burn. The trick is to maintain correct exercise and lifestyle habits to insure that you are loosing FAT instead of lean body mass like muscle or bone.

You will gain weight if you have a caloric surplus. Whether you gain fat or lean body mass, again is determined by correct exercise and lifestyle habits.

You want to establish a healthy BODY MASS RATIO, which means that you have a low percentage of fat, and a high percentage of lean tissue. Strength training exercise is the key to reducing the FAT, and adding MUSCLE. The amount and proportions of your nutrients will vary depending on your fitness goals.
What we eat, and the amount we eat determine what resources are available for our body to function with. Remember from our FAT FACTS, that excess body fat is just unburnt calories. Any nutrients that we eat above the amount required by our activities is stored for future use.

Here is a summary of some good general guidelines for healthier eating.

Just because you may exercise regularly doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want. By following these 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 extreme-carbohydrate nutrition plans and instead balance your protein and carbohydrate intake.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Drink 10 glasses (one gallon)of water every day. It's especially important to stay well hydrated when following a comprehensive training, nutrition, and supplementation program. If you have an occasional soda, coffee or tea, you'll need to drink an additional glass to compensate for the diuretic effect of these beverages.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Include these Proteins:
chicken breast
turkey breast
lean ground turkey
orange roughy

top round steak
top sirloin steak
lean ground beef
lean ham
egg whites or farm eggs
low-fat cottage cheese
wild-game meat

Include these Vegetables:
green beans
green peppers
brussels sprouts

Include these Vegetarian Proteins:
texturized vegetable protein
soy foods
veggie burgers

Include these Carbohydrates:
baked potato
sweet potato
steamed brown rice
steamed wild rice
kidney beans
fat-free yogurt
whole-wheat bread
high-fiber cereal
rice cake
whole grains

Include these Fats:
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
cold-water fish
natural peanut butter
low-fat cheese
low-fat salad dressing
low-sodium nuts
olives and olive oil
safflower oil
canola oil
sunflower oil
flax seed oil

sodas and sugared foods and drinks
fried foods
trans fats
whole-fat dairy products

portions of this information from Body For Life

Need more information? the CDC website is full of great stuff! Check it out here Nutrition and Physical Activity Site Map .

For more details on nutrients, calories, and nutrition for sports, click here to visit The Sports Coach .

Want some recipes? CLICK HERE!

Living Strong Fitness Training can help you design a safe and effective fitness program custom tailored to your body, lifestyle, and fitness goals. The pages of the Living Strong website are filled with great info that will help you in your quest for fitness.

Visit our other pages to learn how you can become more fit, strong, shapely, and healthy. Visit FITNESS FACTS, FAT FACTS, EXERCISE FACTS, NUTRITION FACTS, STRENGTH FACTS, and all of our other great resources including GREAT ARTICLES.


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