Our topic for this week is about one of the most misunderstood areas in the journey towards building a better physique: nutrition. Regardless of whether your goal is to build more muscle in order to look great at the beach or to lose weight so that you can fit into that amazing dress for a party, nutrition is the absolute key to ensure success.
Today, we shall talk about 5 simple techniques that you can incorporate right now to improve your eating habits and get closer to achieving your dream body.
Key Takeaways 📝
Technique #1: Be mindful of your food intake 🍔
There is no way to know how much you are eating until you start to consciously monitor it. For food tracking, I would highly recommend getting MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is an app available on both iOS and Android. You can pick any food tracking app that you like, it doesn’t have to be MyFitnessPal, and the good ones are all free to use. Whenever you eat anything, just record it into the app.
For starting out, spend about a month tracking your daily meals and getting used to the habit of food tracking. Once you have done the exercise for about a month, try to figure if you are overshooting or undershooting your calorie goal in the app. Now, just make alterations by either cutting down on snacks if required or add in more food if the app says you need more calories.
That is it. There is no guesswork involved and you have all the information you need to make changes in your food habits.
Technique #2: Don’t be a cheater 🚫
“Today is my cheat day” seems to be the catchphrase for most people on the latest trendy diet. Cheaters often fall into the trap of picking up a super restrictive diet like zero carb, keto, no-sugar, etc. and try to balance it out through all-out, balls to the wall, weekly cheat days.
If you are someone who already has an unhealthy relationship with food and who struggles with cravings and binging, cheat days are definitely the guaranteed way to throw you off track in your journey towards building your ideal body. Restrictive eating throughout the week only to binge out of control on weekends or during outings with friends, is the opposite of a sustainable diet.
It is in fact better to accommodate your favourite snack– be it ice-cream, chocolate, or french fries, in small servings, every single day of the week, rather than to save one day every week for an all out ice-cream marathon. Doing so would allow you to train yourself to exercise self-discipline on food choices without having to sacrifice on your sanity or health.
So, save yourself a little space in your daily meals for a small treat and do not fall into the trap of once-a-week cheat days. But be sure to track these daily little treats in your food diary so that they don’t end up accidentally being a massive meal.
Technique #3: Make protein a part of every single meal 🍼
Protein is the basic building block of the body and it ensures that your muscles recover properly after a training session. Even long after training, protein intake has been shown to boost the rate of muscle protein synthesis, that is the process of muscle building, just from its consumption.
The general recommendation for someone who is physically active is about 1.8 grams per kilograms of bodyweight. So, if you weigh 70 kilograms, you should ideally consume around 126 grams of protein per day. Although you would find many people in favour of consuming far in excess of this number, there is no scientific evidence so far to show that consuming more than 1.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight provides any additional benefits.
Still, given that there’s no evidence of harm and significant evidence of benefit, it’s likely better for most people to err on the side of consuming more protein rather than less.
The best way to ensure adequate protein intake is by adding some form of protein source to every single meal of the day. So, for every meal, try your best to include one serving of eggs, some kind of meat or a fillet of fish. If you are a vegetarian, you should be prioritising instead foods like beans, lentils, paneer or cottage cheese and tofu. When you go out to eat with friends or to social events like weddings, always pick dishes that incorporate protein based ingredients as their main focus. So, order a grilled chicken instead of pasta next time you eat out for dinner.
Although whey protein supplements are extremely popular, it is very much possible to get your daily protein requirements through your regular meals. However, if you find yourself struggling to hit your daily protein targets in your food tracking app, adding a whey protein supplement into your diet would make your life much easier.
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Technique #4: Be sure to incorporate sufficient fibre and vitamins into meals 🥗
A common mistake people make while trying to either gain or lose weight is to completely overlook the importance of micronutrients and fibre intake in their diets. With the craze of restrictive diets like keto and atkins becoming largely mainstream, we are often attracted to the stunning results these diets promise. Restrictive diets refer to dietary patterns that restrict, that is, completely eliminate certain foods. For example, Although the keto diet has been shown to accelerate the fat loss process, it can lead to mineral deficiencies because of the complete elimination of fruits, grains and pulses. Keto diets are also severely lacking in fibre content, which can cause issues in digestion and leave you feeling uneasy and sick.
The easiest way to ensure sufficient micronutrient consumption is to ensure that your plate is always filled with foods of a variety of colours. Focusing on consuming colourful vegetables and fruits throughout your day, preferably with every meal, would ensure that you are meeting your daily goal of vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid diets which restrict your consumption of any nutrient. Diets that are extremely low carb or low fat, or which eliminate entire categories of foods like grains or dairy, usually come with health consequences. According to medical guidelines, a healthy eating pattern should include foods from 6 food groups: Vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, dairy products and oils. So, before you hop onto the latest trending diet, be sure to consider if it includes all the food groups.
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Technique #5: Cut back on the alcohol 🍺
While a pitcher of cold beer may seem like the most enjoyable way to wind down after a hectic day, alcoholic beverages can cause many problems in your never ending quest to reach your goal weight. The worst of all seems to be a direct effect on testosterone levels. Long-term regular alcohol consumption has been shown to negatively impact testicle size and subsequently testosterone levels in men, leading to lower muscle growth. Alcohol also impacts growth hormone levels which are another factor which determines muscle growth and recovery.
Along with poor hormonal balance, alcohol also contributes to low muscle protein synthesis. Long story short. Any night you spend completely wasted and wake up the next day at a stranger’s house with a nasty headache, is also a day completely wasted when it comes to muscle building. One way to minimise the weight gaining effects of alcohol on your body would be to pick distilled spirits as your choice of drink instead of high calorie options like cocktails or beer.
Which of these techniques are you already applying? Let me know.
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