By Chad Nicholls Flex
WHAT FOODS SHOULD I EAT?
In my opinion, knowing what types of food to incorporate into your diet is one of the most important aspects of nutrition—especially when it comes to regenerating your metabolism and sticking to your program. You cannot look at someone else’s diet or read a magazine and decide that what you saw is the diet for you. You may not like some of the foods you see in a diet, but being able to tolerate the foods utilized within your diet will help ensure success. As well, I cannot stress this point enough: Each person is different, so even though the diet you saw in the magazine made a particular person lose weight and look great, it may not work in the same way for you. Just as important is eating for your goal. If you truly want to remedy a nonexistent metabolism and make it burn as efficiently as ever—packages of fat-free or low-fat goodies are going to make it happen.
Just as crucial to your program should be what you drink. Again, the more pure the source, the better; stick with filtered or spring water. You could utilize many of the new water flavor enhancers if you simply don’t like the taste of plain water. If you are a coffee drinker, moderation is the key. A little caffeine is good, but too much of anything can be a hindrance to your health.
This food list has quite a bit to choose from and the key is to go through the list and choose the items that you like and that you can stick with and implement them into your program. It’s also very important to look at your new program as an eating lifestyle, not a quick-fix diet. Although once you’ve gotten back on your feet and are again a fat-burning machine, you’ll be able to enjoy a little something here and there, the vital point is that you’re not only eating to resurrect your metabolism, but also learning how to eat for proper health and to achieve the most you possibly can with good health and eating habits.
When putting your carbs and proteins together to form your daily meals, it’s essential to make a list of your likes, dislikes, and foods that you are allergic to or are simply unable to eat. This is also the time to enlist the services of a nutritionist. If you aren’t able to eat certain sources of proteins, carbs, etc., a good nutritionist will be able to inform you of suitable alternatives. This is one of the points I always discuss with my clients. If, while creating the program, they tell me that they know fish is good for them, but they just can’t stomach it, we’ll find an alternative source. Unless you simply want to sub out a slice of cake for a baked potato (not going to happen!), there are always other options.
Also, when putting your meal plan together, utilize as much variety as possible. You’re probably thinking, “Right! How creative can I get with fish and rice over and over again?” That’s the point. Don’t eat fish and rice at every meal! With a number of protein choices, utilize as many of them as possible. I like to tell my athletes that their diet is a “base” and that with the lists of proteins and carbs, they can mix and match and interchange as they see fit. The key is to sub out exact amounts: 10 ounces of steak for 10 ounces of chicken; 8 ounces of baked potato for 8 ounces of jasmine rice, etc. Very few pro athletes, let alone the normal individual trying to get his body back on track, could eat the same meal five, six, or seven times a day, every day—so you can switch things up. Another plus side of changing up your foods is that even though you’re switching out the same amounts of food—10 ounces of chicken, 10 ounces of steak, or 10 ounces of fish will vary in calories—as will 8 ounces of potato versus 8 ounces of rice or 8 ounces of other vegetables. This will keep your body and your metabolism alert—the body will not become accustomed to the same thing and this will help when hitting plateaus.
SAMPLE FOOD LIST
First and foremost, keeping your food list simple will help. Look for whole foods as your dietary sources:
PROTEINS Make certain your diet contains clean, whole-food proteins such as: fish, boneless, skinless turkey breast, boneless, skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of red meat , legumes, nuts (such as peanuts or almonds).
CARBOHYDRATES Again, as with proteins, keep these sources as clean and unprocessed as possible: Vegetables such as green beans, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens are just a few of the endless possibilities.
Fruits such as dark berries (blueberries, blackberries, acai), red berries (strawberries/raspberries), apples, and grapes are all great sources. (Please remember, however, when utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables into your dietary program to visit your local farmers market—usually home-grown local fruits and vegetables use the least amount of pesticides, which can greatly inhibit the metabolism—and washing your fruits and vegetables thoroughly will help decrease the amount of pesticide ingested.)
Whole grains such as whole oats, quinoa, and fragrant rices such as basmati or jasmine are also excellent carbohydrate choices.
STAY AWAY FROM…
As far as what to stay away from—the list is extensive, but to simplify things stay away from:
Packaged and Processed foods that are not in their natural, whole state foods filled with additives and preservatives. Basically if you look at the ingredient label, and it reads like the index of a chemistry book— stay away from it!
Alcohol. This is a tough one for many to completely cut out—if you find you can’t completely cut it out—at least drastically cut down on your amount!
High-sugar colas, diet sodas, and carbonated beverages.
DIET PLUS STRENGTH TRAINING AND CARDIO EQUALS SUCCESS
Although it would seem like a perfect world if all you had to do was change your eating program to get things back on track, it wouldn’t be practical or realistic. Now it’s time for a new workout to go with your new eating plan. There are two primary points to your workout: a solid weight-resistance training program and a cardiovascular program. Learning to balance the two programs is where it gets a little tricky. Immediately, most people think cardio is what is needed to burn calories, so that should be the primary focus. But this is not necessarily correct. If all a person does is focus on cardio—say they run four to five miles a day and are burning through their daily caloric intake — this is great, but are they truly tightening up and losing actual body fat? The answer is probably no. They’re burning calories, which will translate to weight loss, but they are more than likely burning up muscle as well, which creates a “skinny fat” physique. By this I mean a person who has a slender physique but still has a high amount of body fat because they’re devoid of actual muscle mass necessary to tone, tighten, and firm the body and keep the metabolism burning hot. This is why weight training is just as important for revving up the metabolism as cardiovascular training. Combining both types of training will optimize your metabolism, and here’s why:
Training with weights increases muscle mass, and the more muscle your body possesses, the faster your metabolism will be. In order to keep your metabolism going, you need to burn energy, and every pound of muscle you have burns energy even when you are at rest—a great reason to add weight training to your metabolic makeover! By implementing a solid strength-training program, a person could burn up to approximately 400–500 calories per hour. Depending on an individual’s weight, the amount of muscle they have, and training intensity—these numbers could easily double. Determining what type of weight-training program is best for you really depends on what you want to achieve with your physique. The obvious goal is reviving the metabolism through building muscle, but if you are a bodybuilder or other type of competitive athlete, you would need a more advanced workout than the average person who may not have been utilizing resistance training at all prior to learning how to rev up the metabolism. Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder and plan your training phases in weeks and months to correspond with a specific competition, it’s better to create a longer term training program. You want to make certain you don’t burn yourself out right off the bat with your workout plan. To do this, set your long-term goal of how much total fat and inches you’d like to trim and how many pounds you would like to lose altogether. From that point, you need to break things down into shorter term goals. For instance, in the first month, you’d like to lose so much and determine what you need to do in order to reach that goal, then figure on a three-month, six-month, nine-month, and year-end goal.
Employing cardiovascular training three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time will burn calories and utilize energy, which is necessary to keep your metabolism going. To help keep that metabolism revved, perform different types of cardio : jogging, elevated treadmill, biking, and I have to include my all-time favorite cardio apparatus, the StepMill. To keep your metabolism from slumping, be sure to consistently add time, intensity, or both to your program. An hour of cardiovascular training such as jogging could average a person up to 700 or more calories burned per hour depending on their weight, muscularity, and cardiovascular intensity. When determining what types of cardio to implement into your plan, you also need to take into consideration where you are in terms of fitness and where you want to be. For instance, if you’re a competitive bodybuilder, you probably aren’t going to want to jog five miles a day—you’d be better to incorporate the StepMill or treadmill. On the other hand, if you want to streamline your physique and go for more of a fit, athletic look, jogging may be the right choice for you. As with weight training, when organizing your cardiovascular strategy, you’ll need to set short-term goals to reach your long-term destination. Beginning three times a week with 30 minutes a day is a solid start. Once you’re able to do this without difficulty, add in another session until you’re doing cardio five days a week. From that point, you can begin increasing the length of cardio—adding 15 minutes to a few sessions until all your sessions are at 45 minutes, then work up to an hour at each session. From that point you can begin increasing your intensity. The more you change your cardio workouts, the more you’ll ensure that you don’t hit plateaus. By using strength training to create muscle, and cardio to help burn calories, you will build the perfect metabolic machine.
FITTING EVERYTHING INTO YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE
One of the primary excuses I hear from people is that with a full-time job, kids, family, it’s hard enough getting the meals in—they just don’t have the time to add the workouts and cardio to the program. This is where finding balance is the key. I’m not telling you that BOOM, on Monday you begin everything 100% and that you just have to do it. Instead, first, begin with the diet. This is the most important (and it will be the hardest) part of the program. Once you’ve gotten used to your eating schedule, you’ll be able to start adding in the cardio and weight training. What I suggest—especially if you aren’t already following a strict training program or had been doing either only cardio or strength training, but not both—is to look at your schedule. See what you can add in first; even if it’s only 15–20 minutes of cardio, that’s a start—it’s more than what you had been doing. Same with the weight training—if you begin with that and have only 30 minutes, three times a week to dedicate, that’s better than not at all, and every rep is working toward building muscle and burning longer to up that metabolism. Once you become acccustomed to this, you can continue adding where you find time. The more results you notice, well, you will be surprised where you find extra minutes during the day to accomplish what needs to be done. The time is actually there—the hardest part is taking the time to get started. The tools and information that I’ve provided here will hopefully lead you to the path for creating your own metabolism kick-start program. By following the guidelines in this article and doing some of your own research and trial-and-error planning, you can construct your perfect program.
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