The word diet has been dragged through the mud. When we hear the word, many of us think of temporary changes to attain our goals. The Oxford dictionary defines diet as “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” In other words, every person is on some type of diet.
Importance of Diet
As discussed above, everyone is on a type of diet. That is to say, whatever we eat makes up our diet. For most of us, what and how we eat play larger roles in our attempt to improve our health and fitness. Unfortunately, many of us neglect this fact which makes it harder to attain our goals.
When we workout, we put excess stress on our bodies. In response, our bodies require nutrients for energy, strength and recovery. That is why a proper nutrition plan is vital. When you think about nutrition, think of nutrients. That being said, without adequate nutrients, you may limit your body’s ability to get stronger, generate energy and recover.
There are two categories of nutrients. Macronutrients that can be broken down into fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Micronutrients that can be broken down to vitamins and minerals.
Let’s discuss them and some of the roles they play.
The primary role of carbohydrates is for energy. Most health and nutrition experts will agree that our bodies break down carbohydrates easily and quickly. Put another way, our bodies can easily break down carbohydrates for energy. This is more important in explosive activities where our bodies need to quickly generate energy.
Our bodies can also convert excess carbohydrates to glycogen and store them in our fat and/or muscles. Most of us would prefer to store excess glycogen in our muscles. In order to do so, you need to couple the proper training protocol with a nutrition plan.
Fats can be used for energy as well. In fact, many health experts believe that our metabolism should be more fat dependent than carbohydrate dependent. That is to say, we should rely more on fats than carbohydrates. Our bodies do not break down fats as easily as carbohydrates.
In fact, we may burn extra calories in the process. In addition, fats are more satiating, which leads us to eat less. These are just a couple reasons why high fat diets like Keto and Paleo are successful in weight loss.
Proteins play roles in strength and recovery. Put differently, proteins are the driving force for your muscles.
We often neglect vitamins and minerals. They play important roles in our health and fitness. In fact, most health experts will agree that they are vital for our cells. In my opinion, we will not properly break down and use macronutrients without micronutrients.
In addition, our immune system requires vitamins and minerals to protect us against viruses and disease. They also play important roles in sleep and recovery.
I will not list micronutrients separately. We should not pick and choose which vitamins and minerals we think we need. I recommend that you get most of your nutrients from natural food and where you fall short, you may supplement.
Put differently, you will do yourself a disservice if you are deficient in micronutrients.
How To Make a Proper Diet Plan:
- Consume macronutrients based on your activity level
I recommend the macro approach. Implement in phases until you understand how much of each macronutrient your body needs. You may begin to understand that your body doesn’t crave calories, but crave nutrients.
- Download a nutrition tracking application
MyFitnessPal, Samsung Health, and Apple Health are some that allow you to set goals for macronutrients and some micronutrients
- Talk to your doctor and/or dietitian
This is vital if you struggle with underlying health issues
- Enjoy what you eat
Consequently, if you do not enjoy what you eat, you will not be able to sustain your diet. In other words, eat healthy and eat well.
- Use fats for slow burning energy
This should allow you to maintain steady blood sugar. In addition, your body burns extra calories in the process of converting fats to glucose. Furthermore, this may lead to weight loss.
- Eat adequate protein
In most cases .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body-weight is sufficient. However, some may require more protein, i.e. athletes and power-lifters.You may need more protein on heavy weight lifting days. This is important for strength and recovery.
- Use carbohydrates as a source of energy
You may carb cycle to accomplish this goal. I eat more carbs on the days that I workout. Mostly, within 2 hours pre and post workout. Also, this process also allows me to maintain muscle glycogen.