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Top Nutrition Tips For Wellness and Healthy Living
Hello everybody. Today I’m going to talk about the underappreciated part of health and wellness: nutrition. Most people jump on the latest workout from muscle magazines and Chuck Norris commercials like kids on candy, but people rarely pay proper attention to nutrition. Now, there’s a huge difference between fad diets and nutrition, so don’t confuse that with something that will make you lose ten pounds in a week. I deal with health, no exaggerated starvation diets.
Without further introduction, let’s get Luke Fisher’s top fitness tips started!
1) Drink water. This relatively simple commandment has countless health benefits for people of all ages. Studies show that nearly 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and that’s a scary thought. Humans can only go three days without water before they die. Chronic dehydration means that people are within a day or two of dying. If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is. But there is hope! It’s called a faucet! The average person should drink about 8 glasses of water a day, more if it’s hot or they’re exercising more than usual. Being well hydrated has numerous health benefits and multiple studies have shown that chronic problems like back pain, joint pain, muscle soreness, fatigue, lightheadedness, hunger pangs and many more can all be resolved with proper hydration. Therefore, drinking water is the single most important health step you can take for yourself.
There are other benefits to drinking more water, too. When lifting weights, the increased water content improves muscle repair and recovery. Think of it like opening up another lane on a highway. Nutrients enter your muscles faster, thus repairing them faster. When performing an endurance activity such as hiking, biking, running, etc., the water boost not only transports energy faster, but also prevents fatigue from water loss. Water also helps curb hunger pangs. If you’re hungry and it’s not time to eat yet, drink a glass of water and wait five minutes.
2) Eat six small meals a day. The reasons for this are also numerous, but I will look at the two main ones: metabolism and muscle building.
Metabolism is what burns calories in your body when you’re not exercising. Basically, all the things your body needs to do require energy, and food calories provide that energy. How efficiently your body burns those calories for energy is your metabolism. Now, the word efficiency is deceptive when it comes to metabolism, because “efficient” for your body means burning as few calories as possible for the maximum amount of energy. This goes back to our days of survival and the need to get all we could out of what we ate, but nowadays we don’t have the risks that the old cavemen had. However, our bodies haven’t adapted and so we’re still stuck in survival mode, which makes many people overweight. By eating six small meals a day, it tricks the body into thinking there is a plethora of food available (which, wow, there is! Have you ever seen a Safeway?) The body then leaves crisis mode and stops trying to hoard all the calorie energy we get. This translates into more calories burned doing mundane things and more calories burned while exercising. By simply changing your meals from three to six, and not changing the amount of food you eat, you can set yourself on the road to weight loss. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
The second useful thing is muscle building. While the body’s metabolism is accelerated by the six meals, so are the body’s capabilities. Building muscle takes calories, and lots of it, but it needs them for the entire repair process. Therefore, slightly increasing your calorie intake while eating six meals a day can give your muscles the fuel they need to repair properly. This is especially true with weight training because the repair needed to muscles is enormous when moving heavy weights.
3) Don’t count calories. Simple, right? But how many people do that? Calorie counting takes away from the main task of nutrition – fueling your body. Too many are caught up in the idea that the calories in food are all that matter. But let’s take a closer look at this idea. Analyze the differences between an apple and a bag of fruit snacks. Both have similar amounts of calories. But which is healthier? If you said fruit snacks, get out of my office. The apple is healthier thanks to the nutrients it provides to the body, regardless of the amount of calories present. Plus, there are these sneaky bastards called “empty calories” that will completely ruin your day if you’re not careful. Imagine fruit snacks again. What do they do for your body? Do they have vitamins? Minerals? Fat? Protein? Carbohydrates…ah! So they have carbs…but wait, what kind? Sugar? Yes, sugar and processed sugar. “Empty calories” are calories that contain no nutritional value for your body, such as those found in sodas, candy, and other highly processed foods. So why count calories if they don’t count?
4) If it comes in a box, don’t eat it. It seems like everything these days gives you cancer. Eat meat yes. Don’t eat meat yes. The air yes. Smoking yes. Just stay near a smoker. (Pretty soon, just thinking about a smoker will give you brain cancer. Mark my words.) So how do we avoid this cancerous world of ours? Well, you can’t, but you can definitely slow down the process. The first step is, ironically, backwards. Get close to nature, but not in the naked hippy in some kind of tree. Just don’t eat processed foods. I talked about “empty calories” in n. 3, but it’s more than that. The manufacturing process contains so many industrial chemicals that it is almost criminal. In fact, the government has made a law that dictates how much stuff companies can legally have in their food. There’s pus, blood, and other bits in the milk, preservatives in the bread, and don’t even get me started on the chicken nuggets. Quick quiz: If you can spot the “nugget” on a live chicken, I’ll give you $100 dollars in cash.
The safest way to eat is local. Some of you might trust me on this one, but outside the city there are these fancy places called farms. They grow stuff. Long story. The point is, these farms bring their produce to farmers markets and people buy directly from the ground. It’s so much better than buying a pepper shipped from Mexico and covered in preservatives and pesticides. Take this, Cancer!
5) Protein is good for you. Forget what you’ve heard about the dangers of protein. Everything goes wrong when taken in too much, and protein is no different. The truth is, the body needs protein for important things, like building muscle and breaking down other minerals/vitamins (along with fat – more on that later). However, the average person needs 0.75 grams to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, scaling based on your activity level. If you lift weights, eat more protein. If you are an athlete, eat more protein. But if you’re an average Joe or Jane who spends some time jogging, riding a bike, or doing light stuff at the gym, then you don’t need 1.5 grams per pound. It’s all about balance.
6) Carbohydrates are good for you. Uh oh. Every time you say that, an LA Fitness personal trainer dies. Hmmm… carbs are good carbs are good carbs are good. Seriously though, carbs aren’t the enemy. Processed, sugary, “empty calorie” carbohydrates are. Good carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, granola, flaxseed, fruit, etc., are fine. They provide the body with the energy it likes to use first. The energy pyramid used by the metabolism looks like this: carbohydrates, proteins, fats. Without boring you, the reason is due to the ease of felling. Carbohydrates are easier to break down into energy than protein, and protein more than fat. Now, this changes when the body has to use protein to repair muscle tissue, so if you lift a lot, it looks like this: carbs, fat, protein. Always carbohydrates first. Then, eat the right ones, like in this article: http://www.goodcarbs.org/#what_are_good_carbs
7) Fat is good for you. Not to be confused with being fat. I’m talking about the meta-nutrient. Fat is REQUIRED by the body to break down minerals, vitamins and speed up the delivery of other important things like amino acids. If your body doesn’t have fat, it doesn’t work, period. Have you heard of Omega-3 fish oil? Well, it’s fat. A fat that makes your heart healthier and prevents bone decay. Wait what?
8) Knowledge is power. Do not take anything I say to heart without first studying it properly. When it comes to nutrition, knowledge and a cynical eye are your best friends. As omnivores, we have evolved to inspect our food and surroundings. Look for popular eating habits. Try saying the last three ingredients in a can of soda. Ask a farmer if he uses pesticides or herbicides. Ask the grocery store manager where the food comes from (hint: if he doesn’t know, it’s bad). One question I always like to ask myself is, “Can I see this in the wild?” If the answer is no, then I ask, “Could I make it in the wild?” If I can’t answer any of these questions, I don’t eat it. Our bodies are still stuck in the stone age and until we can turn calcium disodium EDTA or phenylalanine into something useful, we should be eating stone age stuff. After all, when have you ever seen a fat caveman?
Nutrition is more of a lifestyle than a fad. That is why I did not say the word “diet” at all here. Eat healthy, live healthy. No fads about it.
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