Here’s an important factor that has a huge impact on your overall fitness level and general wellness: your diet.
What is a “diet?”
The word “diet” means “a collection of food items that a person regularly eats.”
Every person has a current diet. If you know someone who eats cheesy potatoes and cheeseburgers six days a week, that’s still considered a diet (admittedly, a very unhealthy one).
If you want to slim down and tone up, start by examining the composition of your present diet to determine how many calories you are consuming per day. Analyzing your current diet can also reveal if you are getting enough essential nutrients, water and dietary fiber.
What is a quality diet?
A quality diet provides a balanced mix of macronutrients and micronutrients in the right amounts. Here is a quick recap of the essential nutrients that our bodies need to function normally:
Protein – Protein repairs and builds muscle tissues. People who regularly perform cardio and weight training need sufficient protein to build lean muscle mass.
Both male and female bodybuilders consume large quantities of protein-rich food to ensure that fat stores are kept to a minimum and that muscle size and strength are maintained.
Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are the main fuel of the body. Our bodies transform carbohydrates into glucose, a usable form of sugar. The body can also store glucose in the muscles.
When glucose is stored in the muscles, it’s transformed into a substance called glycogen.
It may be more difficult to lose weight if you completely remove carbohydrates from your diet because the body needs carbs as its primary energy source.
Fat – Fat performs numerous important functions in the body, including vitamin absorption, transport and storage.
It also creates a padding around the muscles that acts as a shock absorber. Fat also improves a person’s thermoregulation and prevents too much heat from escaping the body especially during cold weather.
Excess calories from food are stored in our fat tissues. When we lose weight, we don’t actually “burn off” fat cells. Our fat cells simply shrink as the excess fat is burned off through exercise and other physical activities.
Water – Keeping your body hydrated is easy! All you will ever need is pure water. My personal rule for hydration is equally easy to remember. If you’re thirsty, reach for water 99% of the time.
If you drink soda, start reducing your daily consumption and replace it with water. You’ll soon feel more energized because your body is not under the constant influence of diuretics found in soda.
Dietary Fiber – Dietary fiber plays a crucial role in maintaining cardiovascular and digestive health.
Fiber has the ability to block some of the lipids or “bad cholesterol” from being absorbed by the body.
Insoluble fiber on the other hand (fiber that cannot be digested by the body) acts as a cleaning machine inside the colon and helps you clear your colon effortlessly.
Vitamins – Vitamins are used by the body to maintain normal growth and development. Vitamins also enhance major and minor functions within the body such as eyesight and skin growth.
Minerals – Minerals are inorganic substances derived from the food we eat. The body cannot naturally create minerals.
You have to make sure that you are getting enough minerals from your diet. Essential minerals include calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Minerals naturally occur in meats, vegetables and fruits.
How do you know if you are getting enough nutrients?
Losing weight does not mean you have to sacrifice your nutrition. Weight loss actually comes naturally when you modify your diet and add more of the best food on the planet like beans, legumes, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, etc.
Superfoods like spinach and broccoli provide only a modest amount of calories in every serving so it would be challenging to “overeat” when your diet is comprised of at least 85% healthy, whole food. Usually, it’s the nutrient-deficient food items like candy bars and hamburgers that are responsible for caloric overload in a person’s diet.
Be mindful of what you eat (even when you’re just snacking) and you just might discover the food items that are making you gain weight!