When it comes to success in changing body composition, I have learned as a trainer that the more things change the more they stay the same.
I have observed countless individuals "live and die" by their food choices, thinking that minimal food intake and no exercise will help them achieve their desired weight, only to ruin that effort over a "one-party" weekend.
Equally, I have watched dedicated "cardio masters" run on elliptical units or treadmills machines, sweating buckets day in and day out, without any noticeable changes in appearance or composition — obviously using this effort as their reason why caloric or dietary control doesn't matter since they are working out.
So many people embarking on healthier bodies are overwhelmed when they begin their combination fitness-weight control journey, unsure of how to start.
It is for that reason, that I have established some of the key ground rules that when repeated and honed will result in five great habits that make a huge difference:
• Habit 1: Eat every two to four hours. We have over developed this notion in North America that we should eat the traditional three meals a day — breakfast, lunch and dinner. For the active individual, this approach wreaks havoc on insulin control as spikes and drops occur this way. Instead, divide your waking hours by three, which in the case of a 15-hour day of being awake would equal five "feedings" spaced three hours apart. The calorie content of each feeding should be approximately the one-fifth of the total allotted calories you have given yourself for the day.
• Habit 2: Eat a complete protein with each feeding.
We have been taught that our protein consumption should occur during breakfast, lunch and dinner only. There is no good reason for this. Instead, make it a point to consume one-fifth or your daily protein requirement at each "feeding." This feeding should also include a good complex fiber in the form of a fruit or vegetable. If I were to generalize I would say that most people consume at best 50 to 60 percent of their required protein levels. The jury is still not out on the amount of protein that a person should consume daily, however a good rule of thumb is to multiply your lean body mass by approximately 8 percent to figure out the total minimal number of grams of protein that should be consumed daily.
• Habit 3: Consume vegetables with each feeding. The merits of fiber are endless in terms of the benefits to the colon and bowel, however the alkalinity of both fruits and vegetables help to keep the acidity of the blood regulated. Too much acidity can create compromises in bone strength and muscle mass, which are critical in the development of lean muscle.
• Habit 4: Eat the "dangerous" carbs only after working out. When a person performs a hard workout, they dump their carbohydrate stores as a form of energy throughout the workout. When this occurs, the body is well prepared to uptake carbohydrates back into the blood stream. It is always best to consume these in a whole grain variety instead of products made from white flour.
• Habit 5: Eat healthy fats daily. Approximately 30 percent of the diet should come from fat, not much less and not much more. When carbohydrate intake is significant, the fat consumption percentages can be adjusted to be as low as 15 percent. Of equal importance, the ideal fat profile is a balance between saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The initial goal should be on adding healthy monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, some nuts and avocados to a diet that also includes polyunsaturated fats from nuts, some vegetable oils and fish oil supplements to one's diet.
There are endless books and articles written on nutrition, however practicing consistency by ingraining these five habits can work wonders in achieving ideal body composition and health.
Bill Victor is the owner of Victor Fitness System Professional Fitness Trainers, Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists, and Performance Nutrition Consultants. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and online at http://theflashpoint.org and http://VictorFitnessSystems.com.