My journey as a figure competitor was one of the most arduous ones I had to endure; nevertheless, it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life that taught me the most about nutrition, diet, and exercise.
As I saw my body transform into competition shape, I could not help but think how we all have the power in us to reach any limits we set our minds into. The key is to persevere, be patient, and above all, provide our body the right nutrition to take us to our end goal. I spent hours in the gym, but I learned fast the undeniable importance of a proper diet in achieving a full body transformation and being successful on stage.
I have applied this lesson throughout my life independent of whether I want to live a healthy life style, compete in a powerlifting meet, fitness competition, or do a race. The proper meal plan will allow us to gain more muscle mass; lose fat, gain speed, or tone. However, we need to educate ourselves about what proper nutrition is, how it affects our fitness goals, helps us through plateaus, and ultimately allows us to live a healthy lifestyle.
The following 7 nutrition tips are the basis to build a strong foundation for a proper diet plan.
- Protein is a macronutrient, which means that our bodies use large quantities of it.
- It promotes muscle repair and growth. If you are looking to gain muscle or have an active lifestyle, you should consume it especially right after a workout when the muscles are in need of nutrients.
- Protein slows down digestion because it is hard to break down. If you are looking to lose weight, protein is important for you since it will make you feel full longer and avoid late night munchies.
- Protein slows down the absorption of sugars in the blood stream thus avoiding sugar highs and lows, which, as a bonus, improves your mood, focus, and productivity.
- Consume roughly 25 to 30gr or 4 to 6 (oz.) of lean protein per meal; such as chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, egg whites, eye of round, and tofu. They are low in fat and promote fat loss.
- Grill or bake the protein in big batches, portion it out, and put it in the fridge or freezer to have it for the week.
- Have a protein shake. When purchasing a protein powder, it is important to pay attention to the content of sugars, and carbs, and ensure that the protein quantity per scoop is as close as possible to 24gr.
- Carbs are also a macronutrient, and our bodies use carbs as our main source of energy.
- Carbs boosts our mood, they are vital to brain function and memory, and they are the primary fuel for working out.
- Our bodies use carbs before consuming protein and fat. When dieting for fat loss, consume carbs in the morning and prior to a workout to allow the body to consume them first and then dip into the stored fats for energy.
- Try carb cycling to push your body to further utilize stored fats as energy. Decrease your carb intake by 25% for four days. For example, start with 100gr, to 75gr, to 50gr, to 25gr, and then go up to 100gr again.
- When planning your meal plans, alternate between carbs and fats in you meals to optimize your body’s carb usage.
- Consume fibrous carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa and barley which are slow to digest, and choose fruit that is low on sugar such as berries, and oranges.
- Even though carbs have the worse reputation among dieters, it is carbs that make those muscles pop and give you a tighter skin look! Eat them right and they are your best friends!
- Fats are the last source of energy your body uses to function.
- Fats are slow digesting and regulate appetite. They leave you satisfied and full for longer. However, they are higher in calories than carbs so use them cautiously.
- Consume them prior to a heavy lifting session to keep your energy levels high for longer periods of time, and at night to avoid late night munchies.
- A gallon a day! Yes, it seems a lot, but once you start, your body and your waistline will thank you.
- Water will keep you full, and since it will inspire a few trips to the restroom, it will keep you up and active by adding to your total daily steps.
- Proper hydration helps getting rid of water retention, stabilize sodium levels, and expand carbs to make those muscles pop and your skin look tighter.
- Keeping a food journal does sound like a lot of work, but it is one of the most important actions you may take to achieving your goals.
- You may use different phone apps that will make the process easier for you, such as MyFitnessPal. This app allows you to create recipes, set goals and look at the overall daily and weekly caloric intake.
- You may sync the app with your fitness watches so you are aware of your overall consumed daily and weekly calories.
- Each body is different and we all burn a different amount of calories a day based on our metabolic rate, and our level of fitness activity. Many gyms offer tests that will measure your metabolic rate for free.
- Knowing your daily rate of burnt calories will help you determine how many calories you should burn for weight loss or muscle gain. Hint: You will need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound!
- Make your meals smaller throughout the day to keep your sugar levels constant.
- Have 6 to 7 small meals a day and load them up with veggies. Veggies that are high in water content such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers are always refreshing and make for great snacks too. Choose low calorie dressings, such as vinegar, mustard, or lemon juice to avoid sneaky calories in your meals.
- Plan a weekly menu and set a day or two in the week to meal prep for the week.
- If all fails, have someone else do the legwork for you. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you have no time to shop and cook healthy. Meal Prep Sunday San Diego specializes in providing customized meal plans based on your fitness goals. Ordering is as easy as going to www.mealprepsundaysandiego.com and choosing your personalized meal plan. We will have the meals freshly cooked and delivered to your door every Sunday for free. We will eliminate the hassle and time spent shopping, cooking, and cleaning. We are cutting out all of the excuses and leaving it up to you to make the change.