Whether your 2015 fitness goal is to lose weight or gain lean mass, here are my Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips to help you maximize your results this year:
1. Be Consistent with Workouts: A wise man once said, “There’s nothing glamorous about consistency, but it does pay big and long-term dividends.” No matter what type of fitness you’re into, the important thing is to get the body and heart moving. Whether it’s twice or four times a week, workouts can’t be hit or miss. Yes, with family obligations and job responsibilities, finding the time can be difficult. The key is to use the time you do have, make a plan, and structure your workouts in a program that’s manageable.
2. Limit Your Carbohydrates at Night: Last Spring, during the Europa University in Orlando, Tim Ziegenfuss, PhD boldly proclaimed that it’s not saturated fat making Americans overweight. It’s carbs-especially at night.
The big issue with eating carbs at night has to do with insulin. In the evening, your body is winding down from a long day. Therefore, your insulin levels are less sensitive at night. This means it’s much easier for your body to convert excess carbs into fat stores. After all, your body is thinking about bedtime not burning calories.
If you choose to eat carbohydrates in the evening, select whole grains and complex carbs, such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. Stay away from the pizza, pasta, and chips. Excess carbs (especially at night) can derail your weight management program.
3. Avoid Sugar: Every time I create a nutritional plan to help an individual lose weight, the very first thing I advise is to avoid sugar. Each gram of refined sugar has nine empty calories (empty meaning no nutritional value). Sugar alone contributes to many negative effects on the body. Refined sugar is linked to: Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, tooth decay, obesity, ADD, ADHD, allergies, and the list goes on and on. I do not recommend artificial sweeteners. However, I do recommend Stevia, a natural sweetener found in protein bars and protein powders.
4. Eat Small Meals During the Day: Eat small meals throughout the day to maintain normal blood sugar levels and a high metabolism. When your blood sugar levels are steady (not spiking up or down), your energy remains high. As a result, your insulin doesn’t have to work as hard (a good way to prevent or even stop diabetes). This is why it’s recommended that diabetics eat five to six small meals a day.
5. Eat Lean Protein with Every Meal: Many nutritionists recommend eating protein with every meal to increase your metabolic rate and burn fat, even when you are sleeping. Choose lean proteins, such as nuts and beans, to increase fiber intake naturally. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, this can also help reduce risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
When it comes to exercise and recovery, the importance of lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey, lean cuts of red meat) cannot be understated. For men who weight train, I recommend 1 gram to 1.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. For women, I recommend from .6 grams to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, depending on the intensity level.
6. Variety in Cardio: Just like with weight training, it is absolutely critical to mix up your cardio routines, in order to get the most out of the work you’re putting in. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Steady State Cardio: 30-45 minutes
2. Interval Training: Try 30 seconds of high-intensity sprinting then 60 seconds of walking or easy jogging. Do this for 6-10 cycles.
3. Go Hard: If you’re in a hurry, go as hard as you can for approximately 15 minutes with your choice of cardio equipment.
7. Take Your Supplements Consistently: If you want ?the health benefits that your supplements offer, you have to take them every day. No excuses. It’s just like doing your workouts: It will take a few months to get results. Be consistent.
8. Junk Up One Meal a Week: I recommend that once a week you set aside a particular meal (not an entire day) and treat yourself. By consistently working hard, you’ve earned it. Besides, life is too short not to enjoy your favorite food. Personally, I like Hawaiian pizza with a slice of apple pie.
9. Drink Water: Did you ever notice how waterslides spray water to keep them slippery? Well, your body works the same way. When you drink water, it makes your joints move more fluidly. Approximately 75% of the body is made up of water. When you don’t drink enough, dehydration can cause a number of negative effects. Try mixing Branch-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) with your water. This will add flavor, plus give your body a metabolic boost. Water carries minerals and nutrients throughout the body.
10. Eat Super Foods Daily: Just like with weight training, it is absolutely critical to mix up your cardio routines, in order to get the most out of the work you’re putting in. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Red Grape Tomatoes are full of antioxidants and great for stabilizing blood sugar levels. They also help fight off prostate cancer.
2. Spinach has phytonutrients and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, ?plus it’s an excellent source of iron.
3. Oats help lower blood pressure, reduce hunger, regulate blood sugar levels, and function as an anti-cancer agent.
4. Yogurt is great for boosting the immune system, fighting off ?infections in the intestines, and providing a good source of protein.
5. Blueberries are the supreme antioxidants. This super fruit aids in helping to reduce belly fat and functions as another anti-cancer agent.
6. Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (which are the good fats). They’re also an anti-inflammatory agent. Fun fact: Walnuts have more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.
7. Carrots are great for vision because of their high beta-carotene. Carrots also contain falcarinol, which is an anti-cancer agent.
8. Raisins have positive effects on every system in the body. Raisins aid in digestion and help reduce acidity of the muscular system.
Well, there you have it: My Top 10 Health & Fitness Tips for 2015. Of course, I could go on and on and on. The important thing is to be consistent with your workouts and let food be your medicine. There’s a sign in the weight room here at Europa that says, “Health is your first wealth.” And I couldn’t agree more.