Last edition I wrote about the importance of cardiovascular conditioning and how to calculate your training zone. I also mentioned that cardio is just one part of the equation, with the other two parts being resistance training and supportive eating. So it seemed logical that I devote this edition’s column to diet.
While I am not a registered dietician, I would like to just give you some general guidelines and tips to help you improve your diet. Now keep in mind that this is geared towards the average person, not the competitive bodybuilder, athlete, or any person with health problems or disease. The following will give you some easy-to-follow tips to help you get your dietary habits under control.
First of all, everyone should be eating five to six times per day. A lot of people make the mistake of eating only once or twice a day to lose weight. While you may see a dip in the scale doing so, you are probably losing muscle rather than just fat. The goal with supportive eating is to maintain your muscle while dropping your body fat. Feeding your body the calories it requires, or a slight deficit of them, will keep your metabolism high. Whereas doing the opposite, overly depleting your body of calories, will cause your metabolism to slow and your body to hold onto its body fat stores. When you don’t consume enough calories to feed your body, your body doesn’t know when to expect more, and so to keep from starving will go into a slower metabolism phase in order to preserve the body mass that it does have.
By eating five to six times a day (including snacks), your body will keep it’s metabolism at an optimum level, which equates to burning more fat by maintaining muscle. Every day should begin with a healthy breakfast; mid-morning can include a healthy snack, an example could be a few cashews coupled with an apple. Next comes a good lunch; mid-afternoon is fulfilled with a nice snack again, maybe some yogurt and a few carrots. And dinner seals the package.
Be sure and eat your dinner at a decent hour, because no matter how healthy the food is that you put into your body, if you don’t burn off the calories, your body will store them as fat. Another tip is not to exceed four hours between meals. After a few weeks of supportive, healthy eating, you may find that you are getting hungry more often. This is a good sign—it means that your body is burning the calories you are taking in faster than it was before.
You see, the more muscle your body has, the faster your metabolism. So optimally, you want to have as much muscle as possible, coupled with as little fat as possible. Hopefully that will make you think twice if you are a woman afraid of putting on muscle. First of all, women don’t put muscle on very easily. And when we do, it’s through hard work and dedication. Don’t worry that you will look “muscle-bound” from a moderate level of dedicated weight training. Women simply don’t have enough testosterone to put on an abundance of muscle naturally. You may be pleasantly surprised however, at the nice muscle tone you can achieve through dedicated weight training. So don’t be afraid to give it a try!
Copyright © 2010 Optimum Condition. All rights reserved. Melissa Allen, CPT, BS, CES is a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and Medifast health coach, is the owner of the Optimum Condition Corrective Exercise & Performance Center, located in El Cajon, in the East County of San Diego. We specialize in customized fitness training and corrective exercise for both recreational athletes and post-rehab clients, as well as guaranteed weight loss programs or your money back. You can schedule a free consultation to help you get started. Please visit her website at OptimumCondition.org.