What Makes A Healthy Eating Plan
Have you ever stopped to really think about this question? Whether specific foods are healthy or unhealthy, how do we define which foods are “good” for us and which aren’t, and how do we know if a specific diet is healthy or not? While some people might say that a healthy diet is a diet that provides an “adequate” supply of the essential nutrients. It’s also difficult to define what an adequate amount really is, and even if we manage to determine how much we “need” of certain food components, those values don’t necessarily reflect the optimal intake.
Humans have been able to adapt to a wide range of dietary patterns. For example the Mediterranean and Japanese diets are vastly different, and both healthy. However, here are some general characteristics, not including dietary intolerance’s or allergies.
•Eat predominantly “real”, whole and un processed food.
•Good quality Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, dairy (preferably raw, fermented, and full-fat), and legumes should make up the basis of your diet. Don’t eat a lot of grains (e.g., poor micronutrient profile, low levels of high quality protein, high carbohydrate content, and many antinutritional compounds) unless you have the time to traditionally prepare them (e.g., fermentation).
•Protein >15%, carbohydrate <40%. You can certainly be healthy on a diet that contains less protein and/or more carbohydrate than this, but it’s rarely optimal. Even the most hard training endurance athlete may not need much more than 40% carbohydrate in their diet. Also, from a practical standpoint, if you’re getting most of your carbohydrate from fruits, tubers, legumes, vegetables, and nuts (which you probably should), as opposed to grains, it’s pretty hard to get above 35-40% carbohydrate unless you’re stuffing yourself with tubers and potatoes all day long.
•Eat some type of traditionally fermented food, like sauerkraut.
•Choose locally produced, grass-fed, and/or organic when possible.
•Make sure you’re getting plenty of fermentable substrates (e.g., onions, leeks, green bananas, potato starch) in your diet.
•Regularly eat good quality fatty fish, organ meats, or other foods high in omega-3 and/or vitamin D.
•Drink lots of high quality water.
What Makes A Healthy Training Program.
1. Base your training around a couple of compound lifts
The deadlift, bench press, overhead press, squat, are the core lifts that really bring the long-term progress. Chins, hip thrusts, dips and push-ups are also valuable exercises that target big muscle groups. These basic human movements should always be a part of your program.
2. Technique, technique, technique
This point can’t be stressed enough. Only a fraction of strength trainees at most gyms show anything that resembles good technique. While some people learn the basic compound lifts by simply doing the movements over and over again with little added resistance, others have to perform additional exercises and mobility work to really get a grasp of things.
3. Focus on getting stronger in the major lifts
One of the primary reasons to strength train is of course to get stronger. Progressive overload is one of the basic principles of strength training and basically means that you have to increase the weight, intensity and/or number of repetitions/sets to create an adaptive response. However, this basic rule of strength training is something a lot of people seem to forget. It’s not uncommon to see folks at the gym doing the same lifts with the same amount of weight every training session. Although an experienced lifter can’t expect to get stronger every workout, the weights should increase over months and years.
4. Train the compound lifts multiple times per week
Although some very effective strength programs only hit every compound exercise once per week, training each muscle group and core lift multiple times per week is optimal for most people. Frequent training brings the fastest results as long as your programming, diet and recovery are in check.
5. Keep track of your progress
A training journal is a great tool for keeping track of your progress accountable and also increases your efforts in the gym by motivating you to beat previous records.
6. Try to get in the zone
Although socializing can enhance the experience of going to the gym, it’s also important to try to block out all unnecessary noise and just do the work.
7. Eat like a champion and sleep like a baby
Like all experienced lifters know, training is only part of the work. Eating a lot of high-quality food and getting enough sleep is essential for building muscle and strength. Normally 7-9 hours a night is recommended.
8. Make sure you target your weak areas
Most people like to train muscle groups and exercises where they are already strong, but focusing on the weaker parts of your body is clearly essential to building a well-balanced physique. Weak glutes are especially common and typically result in a poor movement pattern in the squat, deadlift, and other exercises that focus on lower body strength. Inability to properly activate the glutes during these exercises stalls progress and increases the chance of injury. Doing isolated glute work and strengthening the muscles that produce posterior pelvic tilt is very important for lifters with weak glutes and an excessive anterior pelvic tilt.
9. Do mobility work and assistance exercises that are appropriate for your needs
This point can’t be stressed enough. Many people don’t have the necessary mobility and strength to reap the full benefits from the compound lifts. It’s important to note that just doing some random stretching has little benefit. Everything you do in the gym should be done with a purpose. Mobility drills and assistance work should target the specific needs of each person.
10. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad workout
Even if you sleep 8 hours each night and eat the best possible diet, you will experience the occasional workout where you feel weak and fatigued. Don’t panic. Just lower the weights and/or remove a couple of exercises and come in stronger the next time. Remember that strength training isn’t about one single workout, but the accumulative effect of all the training sessions performed over weeks, months, and years.
Bonus: 11. Don’t make fitness your entire life
While you have to be dedicated to really see great result in the gym, it’s easy to get obsessed with eating and training and forget that everything doesn’t revolve around fitness. Going out with friends, drinking the occasional drink and skipping a day of training won’t kill your progress. Remember that strength training really is a marathon, not a sprint.