A proper diet is essential if you truly want a lean athletic physique. Many people think all they need to do is work hard in the gym and they will be all set, they are mistaken. Diet is actually more important than the time in the gym and it is where many fall short. If you want a toned athletic body you need a proper diet in order to get there, exercise alone is not enough. Follow these 10 nutrition rules and you will be well on your way.
1. Eat Clean
I will start with the most important rule of all which is eating clean. What does eat clean mean? I like to put it this way, if it is made by Mother Nature then eat it, if it isn’t don’t. Example: Mother Nature makes eggs, chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables – eat them. Mother Nature doesn’t make Twinkies, candy bars, pizzas, Cheetos or soda pop – avoid them. It is as easy as that really. If you stop reading this article right here and just adhere to the eating clean principle you will be pretty well off, but please continue.
2. Drink water
Drinking water has many benefits, the first being that it has zero calories. Water can also help curb binge eating by drinking a glass of water with your meal it will fill you up faster and prevent you from eating more than you should. Your body is also about 60% water with your muscles being 73% water so it is a good thing to drink plenty of it especially if you are exercising regularly. Water also helps in digestion, metabolism, joint lubrication, mineral intake, and overall body health and function. Overall it is just a healthy thing to do. Try to get in 8 glasses of water per day.
3. Eat Protein
Eating protein will help build and maintain muscle. You should consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (This means 180 grams of protein per day for a 180-pound person). Healthy sources of protein include lean meats such as fish, chicken breasts, turkey, eggs, and beans. Lean ground beef can also work as well as a lean cut of steak.
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4. High fiber
We all know about the intake of fiber to keep you regular, unfortunately, most of us don’t get near enough fiber in their diets. Fiber is even more important in a high protein diet and let’s be honest, pretty much all high fiber foods are good for you so be sure to dig in. Examples of high fiber foods: broccoli, whole grains, apples, beans, peas, and oatmeal.
5. Protein Shakes
Protein shakes are not only a good way to get the protein you need and BCAA’s but they are also a good meal replacement. Get a nice vanilla protein powder and add some fruit like bananas, strawberries and raspberries and it will fill you up with vitamins, fiber and protein.
6. Avoid These
Simple Carbohydrates – Simple carbohydrates are carbohydrates that are easily digested by the body and will end up stored as fat if they are not used immediately. All simple carbs should be avoided unless you are enjoying a cheat meal. Examples of simple carbs would be white bread, white rice, candy, cookies, regular soda pop, most baked goods, most cereals, and basically anything that contains sugar.
Fried foods – All fried foods should also be avoided, they are loaded with calories and fat and generally do not offer very much nutrition wise.
Sodium Nitrate – Sodium nitrate is found in lunch meats, bacon, sausage, jerky and hot dogs as a preservative. Diets high in Sodium Nitrate have been linked to heart disease, Type II Diabetes and cancer. Luckily it is found in foods that are not really all that healthy so they should be easy to avoid or eat sparingly.
7. Eat Healthy Fats
Not all fats are bad for you. Healthy fats, particularly those containing Omega3 Fatty Acids should be part of a healthy diet. Foods with healthy fats include almonds, olives, walnuts, sardines, salmon and natural peanut butter. Healthy fats can actually boost your fat loss compared to a low-fat diet with no healthy fats.
8. Choose Slow Digesting Carbs
When it comes to carbs you should choose slow-digesting carbs such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, beans, brown rice and wild rice. Slow digesting carbs keep insulin levels low which will reduce fat storage and keep you lean.
9. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
This one should go without saying. Fruits and vegetables are very good for you, they are packed with vitamins and have lots of fiber in them. Include fruits or veggies or both in every meal.
Let’s face it, if you are eating the same healthy diet every day you are going to get bored and perhaps give in and say “it’s not worth it”. This is why you need to cheat from time to time, I would say once or twice a week. Get in a quick cheat get it out of your system and get back on track after.
Perhaps even more important than getting it out of your system is the fact that a cheat meal will throw your body a curve ball. Your body gets used to eating healthy will start to adapt and start to slow your metabolism. This is why you need to cheat every few days just to throw your body a curve ball so that is cant adjust and will keep the metabolism high.
If you are looking for a complete athletic body workout system to get build strength and athletic muscle then check out Ultimate Athleticism from fitness expert Max Shank. It is an awesome program that has everything you need to build a strong and athletic body.
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.