When you are training for optimal fitness, most of it comes down to two things: Proper diet and enough exercise. As such, there are many different attitudes regarding the relative importance of each one. Some people feel that exercise is far more important than diet, and so they concentrate on these things without thinking too much about their diet.
On the other hand, some others try to rely too much on special diets without getting a sufficient amount of exercise. In this article, we will attempt to address this problem by showing you just how important good nutrition can be.
Calories Aren’t The Key
The first thing you need to do is forget about counting calories. The practice of counting calories is something that is normally used by people and groups that focus exclusively on weight loss. Those who don’t particularly care about having a chiseled physique are more likely to count calories, but it really isn’t an effective approach.
On the surface, this idea would seem to be a good one. The idea is that you can only lose weight if you use more calories than you eat. In theory, this would seem to be true, but they forget about one important thing: Not all calories are created equal. We hate to use an old cliché like that, but it is the truth.
For example, let’s consider the number of calories in the average steak. As you can see here, a 3-ounce steak contains about 180 calories. The average steak is about 8-12 ounces, so that adds up to somewhere between 480 and 720 calories per steak. Now let’s consider the calories in a 12-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola. As you can see here, a 12-ounce can will have about 140 calories.
So, even though a can of Coke has fewer calories than any steak, it is definitely not a healthy thing to consume. Even if you don’t agree with that, I think we can all agree that a steak is healthier than a can of soda. A steak has protein, vitamins, and other good nutrients, while soda is mostly made from Phosphoric Acid and Sodium Carbonate. Differences in nutrient content are the main reason that calorie counting is not very helpful.
Protein Is Important
For those who want to build muscle, protein is by far the most important nutrient. Proteins, especially the amino acids, are essential for bodily growth and repair. They are essential not only to the building of new muscle tissue but also for quick recovery.
Protein is also essential for the replacement of red blood cells. As science has demonstrated, red blood cells have a lifespan of about 120 days. These red blood cells are essential for the proper functioning of the human breathing cycle. Thus, a person with fewer red blood cells will generally have much lower endurance.
Carbs Are Important
A lot of people are down on carbs lately, but this is largely due to fad diets that offer quick weight loss with minimal effort. However, losing weight isn’t always the right goal. After all, no one really wants to look like a stick figure. Also, muscle generally weighs more than fat, and that should also be taken into account when judging your optimum weight.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of quick energy. A person who isn’t eating enough carbs will have a hard time generating the energy that they need to get through their day and will have a harder time pushing themselves and making gains during a workout.
Fats Are Important
It is also important to get a little bit of fat in your diet, but it must be the right kind of fat. Like carbohydrates, fats are an important source of energy. While carbohydrates offer quick energy, fat offers stored energy. This is why animals who hibernate will tend to gorge themselves and get as fat as possible before going into the long sleep. By storing a lot of fat, they ensure that the body will have enough energy to survive.
There are two kinds of fats: Saturated and unsaturated. Greasy fast food is probably the world’s best example of a food that is high in saturated fats. Also called trans fats, these are the ones that really cause weight gain. You see, unsaturated fats don’t occur in nature except within the tissues of animals and humans. Most natural foods contain unsaturated fats, which are not as easily turned into concentrated fat.
Timing Is Important
It is also important to time your eating properly. A lot of people tend to eat a big meal after dark, and maybe even a snack during the night. This is not the way to go if you want optimal health. At night, the body naturally goes into a lower-activity state, much like the hibernating bear we mentioned earlier. Of course, the effect is not as extreme, but it’s quite similar nevertheless.
The best time to eat a big meal is in the morning. As soon as you wake up, it is a good idea to do your workout (if you are going to do one) so that you will be burning fat rather than carbs. However, this should be followed by a large breakfast. By having a large breakfast and a relatively small dinner, you can concentrate your caloric intake during times when it will be burned more quickly.
We hope that this short article has been helpful to you and that you will now have a better idea of what works and what does not. Don’t waste your time counting calories or freaking out at the numbers on the bathroom scale. Instead, focus on eating high-nutrient foods that will give your body enough nutrients to obtain the results that you want. We also advise you to hit that “F” button and follow us on Facebook for more of our expert fitness advice.