In order to really succeed at creating a healthy lifestyle and not just a temporary fix, you need to create some habits. The following habits, an exerpt from Precision Nutrition, if followed and incorporated into your daily, permanent, consistent, healthy lifestyle will pretty much guarantee that you will always stay healthy, fit, lean and looking and feeling great. Of course habits take some time, focus, energy and serious commitment to create. But once you get them into your system you will be able to really be rocking! The following are the habits that are going to get you where you want to be (and keep you there!)
#1: EAT EVERY 2-4 HOURS
Why? Because research shows that frequent eating stimulates your metabolism, balances your blood sugar and helps maintain lean mass (while burning fat!) How many meals per day should you eat? Just divide the time you're awake by 3. So if you are awake 15 hours a day, you should aim for 5 meals a day. If your goal is weight gain, you may need to eat more meals per day. If your goal is weight loss, then you may need to only eat 4 meals per day. Your meal size will be based on your gender, body size, body fat, physical activity levels, calorie needs, etc.
#2: EAT COMPLETE, LEAN PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL
Why? Because protein helps to maintain blood sugars, maximally stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass (higher metabolic rate), improve recovery, and reduce your body fat. Women should aim for about 20-30 grams (80-120 calories) per meal- the equivalent of about 1palm sized portion of protein. Men should aim for about 40-60 grams of protein per meal- the equivalent of about 2 palm sized portions.
#3: EAT VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL
Why? For many reasons! Science has shown that in addition to the micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) packed into veggies, there are also important plant chemicals that are essential to optimal physiological functioning. Vegetables also provide an alkaline load to the blood. Since proteins and grains are more acidic, it is important to balance this load since too much acid means the loss of bone strength and muscle mass. Vegetables are also a great source of fiber. A serving of veggies is about 1/2 cup. Aim to eat 2-3 servings (so 1.5 or so cups) with every meal. Make this a daily habit and you will be providing your body with 10-15 servings of awesome, cancer fighting, fat blasting, free radical destroying, acid neutralizing, power veggies every day.
#4: IF FAT LOSS IS YOUR GOAL, EAT VEGGIES AND FRUITS WITH EVERY MEAL AND "OTHER CARBS" ONLY AFTER EXERCISE
Why? Because, when it comes to changing your body's composition, timing your carbohydrates is one of the most effective strategies for kick-starting fat loss in people with stubborn and hard to remove body fat stores. It also minimizes fat gain in people gaining muscle!
#5: EAT HEALTHY FATS DAILY
Why? Because healthy fats (primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) help you lose weight as well as help with cellular repair, fat loss, improved recovery and a host of other valuable healthy benefits. Aim for approximately 30% of your calories coming from healthy fats. In addition to getting healthy fats from your food (such as: nuts, olive oil, avocado, flax seeds/oil, etc.) you should also include fish oil supplements in your nutrition plan. These supplements can help protect you from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more. It is recommended that about 6 grams a day is about right.
#6: DON'T DRINK BEVERAGES WITH MORE THAN 0 CALORIES (this does not include your green protein smoothie)
Why? Because nothing can take the place of good, clean water. Your body is made of over 60% water! Water is absolutely essential for a variety of functions including weight loss and improved body composition, circulation, better athletic performance, and a host of other crucial bodily functions. You should aim for a minimum of 96 ounces of water every day!
#7: EAT WHOLE FOODS INSTEAD OF SUPPLEMENTS WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Why? Because no pills, bars or other pre-made options can even come close to giving you the quality of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that good
old fruits and veggies contain. Get a complete diet of lean meats (and other quality proteins), fruits and veggies, high fiber and nutrient dense carbs (at the right time) and good, healthy fats. I know it can be challenging to do this all the time, so aim to eat this way as often as you possibly can, and then give yourself a break when life is too crazy and go with the pre-made stuff when nothing else will work. This leads us to the next habit...
#8: PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE FOOD IN ADVANCE
Why? Because life is crazy and busy and the hardest part of eating well and healthy is consistency. Sometimes good nutrition is less about the food and more about making sure the food is available when it's time to eat. Remember, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." So plan ahead and succeed!
#9: EAT AS WIDE A VARIETY OF GOOD FOODS AS POSSIBLE
Why? Well first off, eating the same things over and over can get very boring. In addition, it is nice to give your body a variety of nutrients and fresh seasonal foods that give you a healthy variety. Be brave, try new things! You may just find some new favorites.
#10: PLAN TO BREAK THE RULES 10% OF THE TIME
Why? Because it gives you a break from feeling like you have to be perfect all the time, and really makes a negligible effect on your progress. But, let's be clear on what this 10% break really means. If you are eating 5 times per day for 7 days of the week, that's 35 meals each week. Since 10% of 35 is about 3.5, you can eat 3 or 4 "imperfect" meals per week. A 10% meal is one that doesn't conform to the above 9 habits. Did you miss your protein source with lunch? That's a 10% meal. Did you skip a meal? That's a 10% meal. Did you skip veggies? That's a 10% meal. Did you eat a whole pizza? That's definitely a 10% meal! You get it, right? If you are honest with yourself in regards to your nutritional quality and adherence to your 90% on and 10% off, you will succeed and reach your goals. If you are not seeing results, take a good, honest look at your nutrition and you will most likely find that your 10% break is probably more around 20%, 30% or even more. Aim for 90% of your meals hitting the above 9 habits and then enjoy your 10% break meals! It's a good thing!
So, there you have it, ten fantastic habits that are going to help you get lean and strong. When incorporated into your steady, consistent lifestyle they will keep you lean and strong.
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She s a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.