Fitness can be a very simple concept that we can complicate the crap out of. Between Fitness myths and product sales there is a lot of misinformation out there. We’d like to help clear some of that up.
So unless you have a pretty bad hormonal imbalance or other rare underlying issue, there are a few simple concepts that research keeps coming back to that work for Fitness results.
So let’s dive into what those are.
Nutrition. Nutrition. Nutrition.
When it comes to changing our body composition (the amount of lean mass and body fat we have), a huge part of it is nutrition.
Even though it is not essential to count calories, for the most part weight loss boils down to energy (in this case calorie) balance. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you consume less than you burn, you will lose weight.
Now that said, it’s pretty darn hard to out-train a high calorie diet. And even if you burn a ton of calories, some research shows that body can adjust daily metabolism down out of survival (a sort of a “ oh no, something is wrong I just burned a serious amount of calories and this could be a problem if it happens again” thing).
So what should you do? Well, we have yet to see a case where someone tracks food intake and calories as well as activity and does not see results. That’s always an option.
If you set your daily calories first, then total protein (more on that shortly), and let protein and carbs fill in the rest, powerful change can happen.
But what if you really hate tracking? When it comes to nutrition, the best diet is the one you will do. So paleo, low-carb, intermittent fasting, If It Fits Your Macros, or Flexible Dieting all could be options if it works for you.
Check out of short video on popular diets for more:
It again boils down to eating enough to be healthy (yes we can consume too little) and consuming a little under what we burn each day.
Now What About Protein Protein is a great calorie. It is comprised of amino acids which can do so many things for our body including repairing tissue after workouts. This isn’t something carbohydrate and fat can do. Our bodies can also convert it to sugar if needed.
Some of the latest research tells us that a good number to aim for is about .8 grams of protein per body pound per day. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, your protein aim should be about 120 grams per day.
That can seem like a lot at first, but if you spread it out among 4 different times during the day, you are aiming for about 30 grams per meal. That’s about one chicken breast or 3 ounces of lean beef. Not too daunting.
Other Helpful Ideas There are two right out of the gate focuses we like. One is drinking more water. 64 ounces a day minimum (up to 128 ounces per day). A simple trick here is placing 4 rubber bands (or hair ties) around a 16 ounce bottle of water. Every time you finish and have to refill the bottle of water, take a rubber band from the bottle and move it to your wrist. At the end of the day, the goal is to have 4 rubber bands around your wrist (i.e. 64 ounces). Why is drinking more water important? Water helps transport vital nutrients, it helps remove waste and toxins, assists with fat burning, and helps keep you feeling full just to name a few benefits.
Another helpful plan is slowing down your eating. This one can be huge. Have you ever felt famished and after quickly eating a meal, still felt hungry? Often if we just slow down our eating and give the food some time to digest before going for seconds, you will find you really aren’t that hungry.
It can take as much as 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s satisfied or full. Give your digestive system this extra time and you may find yourself eating fewer calories.
Take Away: Slow down your eating, drink more water and eat more protein.
Something we often preach at Park Fitness is to constantly chase progress and strength. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to look like a body builder if you don’t want to. And most people have a hard time putting on a lot of muscle even IF they want to.
So why chase strength? Well, for starters strong people are harder to kill. There are countless correlation between strength and living longer.
Strength also help improves energy through mitochondria density, increases bone density, improves work capacity (helps us do more and thereby burn more calories), improves performance and more.
Also, if we have more lean tissue, we burn more calories every hour of the day. This is something cardio can’t do. If we miss a week of cardio we miss all the calorie burning. But if we improve lean tissue in our body, we burn more calories morning, noon and night.
Oh, and if you want to run hills better, hit the golf ball farther or have a stronger tennis serve, you need to be getting stronger.
So how? In the beginning of any program, everything works... for a little while. But for us to show sustained incremental improvements in strength, it needs to be a priority. That means focusing on it 2-4 times per week. It doesn’t have to be terribly complex, but it must be intentional.
If you have done a Semi-Private training session with us, you have seen the how these types of workouts are structured. If you haven’t, don’t worry. It’s just doing exercises with the goal of improved strength rather than primarily getting the heart rate up.
A good way to know if you could use more strength training is to see if you have hit a plateau of some kind? For instance, have you been getting closer to that first push-up but have been stuck at the same point for a while now? Have you been trying to conquer those hills on your run but they haven’t gotten the least bit easier? Then a little more structured strength training is the answer. Take away: Spend time, 2-4 Days per week, with a goal of progressing strength.
Perhaps the first place people go for results is cardio. Cardio is awesome. It burns calories and improves cardiovascular health. Yet it is third on our list of changing body composition.
Every calorie counts and for us to have maximal benefits, we need some regularly. Think of your overall health and fitness plan like making soup. 70% of it is nutrition or in the case of soup about 70% is water. But the vegetables, noodles and meat is needed to bring it all together and create the flavor and look you are going for. Even though nutrition is key and strength training super important, the benefits and calorie burning effects of cardiovascular activity is undeniable. From mental clarity and focus to heart health and energy, regular structured activity that gets the heart rate up to at least 70% of your maximum heart rate, performed 3-4 days per week, is essential.
Take away: Something is better than nothing here, but if we have an opportunity to break a good sweat and add some intensity, do that 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
Now there are many more individual differences when it comes to fitness and nutrition, but this covers the basics and large majority of people in a simple and easy for follow way.
For more questions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or to come check out the awesome and supportive fitness community we have, feel free to set up a Starting Point Meeting here: https://parkfitness.wufoo.com/forms/kjywshi1hgr6cr/
Until next time!