Nutrition is a critical component of any weight loss diet or fitness program. In fact, some fitness experts have said that nutrition contributes to 70% of the results of your fitness plan, while exercise provides only 30% of the results. That means that in order to reach your fitness and weight loss goals, what you eat is twice as important as how much your exercise And after weight loss and fitness goals have been met, nutrition continues to play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI), avoiding heart disease and stroke, and contributing to an overall sense of health and well being.

What Are the Elements Of A Proper Nutrition Plan?

The healthiest way to eat for both short-term weight loss and long-term health is a high protein diet that limits saturated fat, and focuses on complex carbohydrates for fiber and energy.

Think of your nutrition plan as an ice cream sundae: the big scoop of ice cream should actually be a serving of lean protein; instead of chocolate sauce, the protein should be accompanied by a serving of complex carbs such as vegetables or whole grains; the nuts should be walnuts or almonds since they provide just the right amount of unsaturated fat; and the cherry on top represents your daily multivitamin. There you have it, the perfect nutrition plan, but let’s take a closer look at each of these nutritional elements.

Why A High Protein Low Fat Diet?

While there are a zillion different weight loss “experts” out there, most agree that the key to losing weight, and then maintaining a healthy weight, is to control your blood glucose levels, or the amount of sugar in your blood.

Why? Because too much sugar in your blood stream immediately signals the pancreas to release more insulin, and the higher insulin levels keep your body from metabolizing body fat at an optimum rate. Simply put, your body won’t burn body fat when proper blood sugar levels have been breached.

So how do you keep your body’s blood glucose levels in check? Protein is a key factor because:
1) Protein does not trigger an insulin response in your body
2) Eating protein helps you feel full for a long period of time so you don’t snack on high glycemic (high sugar) foods
3) Protein is more difficult to digest than fat or carbs, so you body naturally burns more calories
4) Protein is essential to building muscle mass, and since the body works harder to support one pound of muscle than it does a pound of fat, you are again burning more calories with the same amount of exercise.

What Type of Protein Should I Eat?

Lean protein is best, as found in skinless chicken and turkey breasts, fish, and low fat dairy products. Protein shakes containing whey protein are also a good source of low fat protein, but read the labels and skip any protein supplement (shake or bar) with more than 1 gram of sugar.

Should I Eat Carbs?

Carbohydrates are a necessary, but tricky component of a balanced nutrition plan. Carbs are essential for energy, and are particularly important for people who exercise. But all carbohydrates contain some amount of sugar. So the key is eating the right amount, and the right kind carbohydrates.

How Many Carbs Should I Eat?

The average person should limit their carb intake to less than 120 grams per day, and no more than 40 grams at any one meal. Because carbohydrates are a form of sugar, any more than that will trigger the type of insulin that you are trying to avoid.

What Type of Carbs Should I Eat?

It is well known that not all carbohydrates are created equal. For example, both broccoli and donuts contribute carbs to the person who eat them, but as you can imagine, the broccoli represents a much healthier choice of carbs than the donut.

This is because donuts, with sugar as a primary ingredient, land very high on the Glycemic Index (the scale that mesures how much sugar any particular food will contribute to our blood glucose levels). And most vegetables are low on the Glycemic Index.

To choose the proper carbs for your diet, keep in mind that simple carbohydrates (or bad carbs) are very high in sugar and are quickly digested, resulting in an immediate insulin response. But complex carbohydrates (or good carbs) are lower in sugar and are more slowly digested, keeping blood sugar levels stable while contributing energy to the body over a longer period of time.

Examples of Simple Carbohydrates (Bad Carbs)
– All forms of real sugar
– Processed snack foods
– Baked goods
– White rice
– Potatoes
– Most bread
– Many fruits, although the fiber slows digestion and lessens the glycemic effect

Examples of Complex Carbohydrates (Good Carbs)
– Whole grains
– Steel cut oatmeal
– Most vegetables
– Nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc)
– Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed, etc)

Don’t Forget The Cherry On Top

A balanced nutrition plan is based on protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fatty acids, it can be easy to skimp on necessary amounts of trace vitamins and minerals, especially if you are eating approximately the same foods every day. So make sure to include a multivitamin in your nutrition plan, and finally, drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. If you become dehydrated (easy to do when exercising), your kidneys don’t work very efficiently and your liver takes over the slack, meaning it is not doing its job of properly metabolizing body fat.

Bottom line, too much sugar and not enough water will prevent your body from burning fat, no matter how long you run on the treadmill. On the other hand, following a low glycemic diet and drinking sufficient amounts of water will just about guarantee your fitness success.

More Nutrition Information For Fitness …

List of High Protein Foods
To get your weight loss nutrition plan started off right, we’ve included a list of high protein foods to include in your weight loss diet… Read More

Cholesterol Do’s and Don’ts
Learn which foods you should eat, and which ones you should avoid in order to control your cholesterol. You’ll look better, feel better and your heart will be so musch healthier … Read More

Benefits of A Low Fat High Protein Diet
A diet that is low in fat and high in lean protein is absolutely critical for weight loss, fitness and overall optimum health… Read More