No one wants to spend long hours in the gym or live on a diet of lettuce, but we do want to get stronger, fitter, leaner, and just plain look our best. So since you have been asking how I stay fit year round, here are my top 8 tips to include in your fitness program:
1. Consistency and discipline – this is the most important and is my number one tip to getting results. Make the time to do what you say you will do each and every day. Even if you mess up, get right back on track and don’t quit. There is a reason this is my top tip, because too many people give up as soon as things get hard.
2. Managing your macros -Balancing carbs, protein, and fat - Three nutrients — carbohydrate, protein, and fat — contain calories that your body uses for energy. Here's how to balance these nutrients in a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates - Carbohydrate has 4 calories per gram. About 30 to 50 percent of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrate. Carbohydrate contains the most glucose and gives the quickest form of energy. Your body changes 100 percent of carbohydrate into glucose. Besides giving your body energy that it uses right away, your body can store carbohydrate in your liver. Your liver stores extra carbohydrate as glycogen and releases it later, when your body needs it. However, there's a limit to the amount of glycogen your liver can store. Once your liver has reached that limit, your body turns the extra carbohydrate into fat.There are two types of carbohydrate: healthy and not-so-healthy. Healthy carbs: Also called complex or slower-acting carbs. Includes multigrain bread, brown rice, lentils, and beans. This type of carbohydrate raises blood sugar slowly and lasts longer. This helps keep you from feeling hungry for a longer time and helps to keep blood sugar levels closer to normal. Not-so-healthy carbs: Also known as simple or fast-acting carbs. Includes candy, cookies, cake, soda, juice, and sweetened beverages. This type of carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels very quickly, but doesn't last very long. That's why these carbs work well to correct low-blood sugar but don't satisfy hunger as well as healthy carbs. My carbs usually come from vegetables and I love sweet potato and eat it regularly.
Protein also has 4 calories per gram. In my healthy fitness diet, I eat about 30 to 40 percent of my total daily calories from protein.
Your body needs protein for growth, maintenance, and energy. Protein can also be stored and is used mostly by your muscles. Your body changes about 60 percent of protein into glucose.
Protein takes 3 to 4 hours to affect blood sugar levels. When it does have an effect, foods that are mostly protein won't cause much of a rise in blood sugar. Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. Make sure to get 2 grams of protein daily for each pound of body weight. Although I don’t measure every gram I eat I do keep a mental note on about what I am eating through out the day and do have a meal calculator I use when trying to be exact.
Fat has the most calories of all the nutrients: 9 calories per gram. In a healthy diet, about 25-35 percent of total daily calories should come from fat. This means eating about 50 to 80 grams of fat each day. Fat gives the body energy, too, but the body changes only about 10 percent of fat into glucose. By itself, fat doesn't have much impact on blood sugar. But when you eat fat along with a carbohydrate, it can slow the rise in blood sugar. Since fat also slows down digestion, once your blood sugar does rise, it can keep your blood sugar levels higher for a longer period of time.
There are various types of fat, and some types are better for you than others. Choose mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated fat. These fats are liquid at room temperature. Mono-unsaturated fats are especially healthy because they lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood. These fats include olive, canola, avocado, and nut oils.
Limit saturated and trans-fats. Saturated fats are found in foods that come from animals, such as meat and dairy products. These kinds of fats are solid at room temperature. Hardened fats, such as coconut or palm kernel oils as well as oils that have been hydrogenated, also contain saturated fat. These can damage your heart and arteries.
Trans-fats are found in most processed foods and many fried fast foods, such as French fries. They help food stay fresher longer, but they're just as bad for you as saturated fat.
Do not be afraid to eat healthy fats, the truth is a higher fat diet works wonders for me. The fats I eat most come from avocado and peanut butter (fresh ground). I use olive oil in preparation and try to stay away from bad fats
4. Diet – keep your diet clean by removing processed foods. Never starve yourself to lose weight. Diets don’t work, so keep a balanced diet and give your body what it needs. By slightly reducing calories in your diet and increasing exercise you will force your body to burn fat. It is simple if you just take the time to pay a little more attention to how much and what you eat.
5. Managing Calories - You need to understand your body’s Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE – When you know your bodies energy need’s each day and balance your macros (protein, carbs and fats) to meet your bodies needs you can maintain, lose weight or gain weight depending how you adjust your calories. My mix is about 40% of my calories from protein, 35% from carbs and 25 from fats. I will reduce carbs and increase protein and fats when cutting body fat.
6. Keep workouts to a set period of time and complete your workout with focus and intensity. Complete your workout in a set period of time with just enough rest between sets. Learn to make the most of your workout, don’t waste time. In the end it isn’t about how long you are in the gym it is what you do with the time you have when you are there.
7. Mix it up - Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. Use free weights, machines and mix up different exercises and repetitions to get the best results.
8. Use Good Form – make sure you perform each movement with a weight that allows for the best form to get the most out of each rep. Never sacrifice how much you lift for good form. Find exercises and use weight that makes your muscles work at the level they need. Even if you are using lighter weights or just your body weight, start your exercise with the best form possible.
If you take these tips into consideration and really apply them in your fitness program you should begin to see better results. If you need help, hire a personal trainer. As with everything, good things take time and being consistent and finding balance is what I have found is the best way to keep in shape year round.