It’s not a surprise that the average American doesn’t drink enough water each day.
With such a wide array of conveniently available flavored beverages to choose from–fruit juices, coffee drinks, sodas, and many more–many people just don’t make room for their daily allotment of water, because they’ve already drank their fill of other things.
And some people (like me) just flat-out don’t like the taste of it. But getting your daily ration of water is very important to overall health and well-being. Not drinking enough water can put your health at risk!
WATER SERVES A NUMBER OF PURPOSES IN YOUR BODY:
- it helps keep your appetite in check
- keeps your metabolism and circulation active
- keeps energy levels up
- helps flush toxins out of your system
- keeps muscles supple and mucous membranes moist
- helps prevent feelings of weakness/soreness, or headaches
Drinking your daily quota–and staying healthy in the process–is easier than you may think!
HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE DRINKING?
A popular rule of thumb is to drink an 8-ounce glass of water 8 times a day–adding up to about 2 liters. And, this is pretty close to what the average adult needs. But, studies indicate the actual number is somewhat higher–about 10 glasses of water a day for a woman (around 2.2 liters or so), and 12 or more for a man (approximately 3 liters!).
Try to drink no less than 8 glasses of water a day, but aim higher if you can.
Of course, if you’re physically active, you’ll need to drink more than this in order to make up for the fluids you’ll lose from sweat and activity, as well as to help circulate your recovery nutrition to your spent muscles and tissue.
Depending on your level of physical activity, you’ll want to increase your fluid intake by at least 50% to 75%–possibly more.
Also, don’t be afraid to adjust your fluid intake based off other lifestyle and environmental factors, too! If you live in a hot environment, then you’ll need more fluids, even if you don’t exercise much.
WHAT SHOULD I DRINK?
Of course, the best way to get your water is by drinking actual water, as opposed to other types of beverages.
Most beverages are composed primarily of water, but also tend to have a lot of extra ingredients–and calories–that may not be beneficial to your long-term health. (In fact, many people get as much as 400-500 calories each day just from drinks from the artificial sweeteners.)
So really, drinking actual water is the best way to go. Of course, that can be boring or unpleasant for some people. Luckily, there’s a lot of options to help you reach your quota:
- If you don’t like the taste of tap, but like the taste of bottled/spring water, try buying a water filter device (like a Brita). You’ll save a lot of money versus buying bottled water!
- Add a twist of lemon or some other citrus to make your water more palatable.
- You can also use artificially sweetened packets to flavor your water. The jury’s still out on the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on the human body, but most research indicates it’s safe to use in moderation. A single packet can flavor up to 20 ounces or more of water, so you don’t need to use too much.
- Fruit juices have lots of water as well as other nutrients, but also tend to have lots of calories and sugar.
- Milk also has a large amount of water, but tends to have a fair amount of calories and fat as well. Plus, some people don’t digest it very well.
- Soda has water too, but very little nutritional value, and lots of calories and sugar. Don’t be afraid of a little soda here and there, but I would recommend NOT counting soda towards your daily fluids, just because you probably ought to drink a little extra water to help flush the processed ingredients out of your system more efficiently.
- Sports drinks contain lots of water, as well as calories, sodium, and sugar–nutrients that are useful for people who are physically active, but can also contribute to weight gain if you’re not careful.
- Most food contains at least a little bit of water–fruits and vegetables contain a lot. You can’t get your daily fill of water from food alone, but it can help contribute.
CAN IT HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
Sort of. Water, by itself, doesn’t magically burn weight.
However, it also has no calories; if you replace beverages such as soda, coffee, or even fruit juice with water, then you’ll reduce your caloric intake by a couple hundred calories a day–remember that 3,500 calories equals 1 pound. You can lose a couple pounds a month just by drinking water more often and cutting back on other types of drinks!
Also, water helps keep your appetite in check, which can prevent you from eating more than you need. Sometimes, feelings of hunger can feel similar to feelings of thirst or dehydration; if you think you need a snack, try chugging some water instead. It’s possible that you’re just thirsty. And, even if you’re not, water can help keep you feeling full until it’s time for a proper meal.
The F.I.T.T. Principle is a concept used by our personal trainers at NLF as a means to keep workouts unique and varied. This concept, and the variations it provides, has several purposes:
- Helps to lower the risk of injury
- Lowers the likelihood of hitting plateaus (where further development becomes difficult)
- Helps keep workouts fresh and interesting
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
F.I.T.T. stands for: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.
- Frequency – How often you should perform a particular exercise (e.g. how many days a week)
- Intensity – How hard you should lift or perform a particular exercise (e.g. resistance/weight, speed, tempo, etc.)
- Time – How much time you should spend on a particular exercise in any given session (e.g. 30 – 45 minutes on cardio, 1 hour on a muscle group, etc.)
- Type – What kind of exercise you should perform for a particular muscle group or movement
For those who are looking to lose weight or get in better shape overall, follow these guidelines to increase the productivity of your workouts!
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Cardio – At least 3 sessions a week is suggested; 5 to 7 sessions a week is even better. The more often you can push yourself, the faster your cardiovascular abilities will improve. However, it’s not recommended to perform much more often than this, as you risk wearing yourself out.
Strength/Resistance – 3 to 5 sessions of full-body exercise a week is suggested. If your sessions are targeting a specific muscle group only, you can perhaps perform twice this many. In any event, you want to make sure you give each muscle group a day to rest between sessions, so as not to increase the risk of injury.
Cardio – Low to moderate intensity is advised for most individuals starting out. Keep to a lower heart rate zone. The harder you push yourself, the less time you’ll be able to spend exercising.
Keep to a reasonable tempo to increase the amount of time you can spend. More experienced individuals should try to maintain a higher heart rate zone in order to see benefits.
You’ll need to know what your maximum heart rate is in order to determine an appropriate amount of intensity.
- To find your maximum heart rate, use the following formula:
- 220 – your age = maximum heart rate
- If you are less experienced with cardio, you should aim for 55 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate.
- If you are more advanced, aim for 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heat rate.
- Don’t try to go above 80 percent of your maximum heart rate unless you are very advanced!
Strength – Don’t kill yourself! Injuring yourself is all too easy if you ignore the signs your body sends you. Don’t lift more weight than you can handle just because it seems like the most obvious way to push yourself.
If you find yourself struggling, there’s a number of ways you can switch up your workout to try to compensate. Many of the alternate methods work well with lighter weights, too.
- Increase workload by increasing the amount of weight you lift, forcing your muscles to work harder. Be careful not to overdo it, though.
- Increase workload by increasing the number of sets and/or reps you perform, forcing your muscles to work longer. Don’t be afraid to use lighter weights when doing this.
- Increase workload by decreasing rest times between sets, limiting the amount of time your muscles have to recover.
- Increase workload by slowing down the motions of each exercise, forcing each muscle to work longer, and distributing the work more evenly amongst a muscle group.
Cardio – The amount of time to perform depends somewhat on your conditioning level. If you are new to cardio training, start with 20 – 30 minutes or so, and work up.
Individuals with better cardio conditioning should aim for 45 minutes to an hour. Remember, the 30 – 45 minutes need to be performed consecutively—any less than this shouldn’t be considered a “full session”!
If you can’t last for a full 30 minutes, consider doing a less demanding activity, or lowering your pacing so you can go longer. Also, any sessions over an hour are probably not going to provide much extra benefit to most people.
Strength – At least 30 – 45 minutes in the weight room is recommended. This should give you ample time to perform multiple sets of exercises on each muscle group you are targeting.
If you are spending less time than this, then it’s possible that you are perhaps not working hard enough to get any significant benefit. Of course, if you are only targeting one specific muscle group for your workout session, you may not need the full 45 minutes.
Cardio – You want to perform exercises which have large motions and use large muscle groups, or multiple muscle groups at once. This includes activities like running, stair-climbing, bicycling, elliptical, or swimming.
When starting off, you should try to stick with exercises that are low-impact, like the elliptical or bicycle, as high-impact exercises are more likely to cause injury if you’re untrained—especially for the long periods of time you’ll need to see maximum benefit.
Strength – You should start with basic exercises that challenge your balance. By improving your balance, you’ll improve your entire foundation, which will in turn make more advanced (and strenuous) exercises easier to perform, and lower your risk of injury from bad form.
Do you ever get nauseous during a workout? Do you ever get light-headed in the middle of performing an exercise? Ever feel the need to take a heavy-duty nap right after you workout?
The problem might be simple—you aren’t giving your body enough fuel to last the duration of your workout session.
Luckily, the solution is simple—eat something! Eat something before you work out, and eat something afterwards. Get your body properly fueled up prior to exercise, and refuel it again after! It’s simpler than you may think, and almost always beneficial.
There are many different solutions to cater to people of differing appetites, constitutions, and time constraints.
Kevin always tells his rookies to eat something before they come in and work out.
They usually ask, “What should I eat, and how long before my workout should I eat something?” Kevin generally replies; “Eat a sandwich as you’re walking through the gym door! I don’t really care what you eat, just be eating as you come in.”
For me, on the other hand, eating immediately prior to a workout tends to make me feel sluggish and heavy. This affects a lot of people, actually; eating too much food prior to a workout can induce feelings of fatigue or even nausea.
What’s the solution? Oftentimes, you just need to eat something lighter. You don’t need to eat a full meal immediately before you work out. You just need enough sustenance to last through the hour or two you are going to be exercising.
Some suggestions which fit the bill for a pre-workout snack include:
- A meal replacement shake (like Muscle Milk), or a protein shake – You get a moderate amount of energy-providing calories from a shake like this, and it digests quickly, allowing your body to use the energy almost immediately. Many meal-replacement shakes are fortified with additional vitamins and nutrients.
- A meal replacement bar or protein bar – Similar to the shakes above, but usually with even more nutrient supplementation. I find that a bar is often better at satisfying hunger than a liquid, and tends to settle easier during a workout.
- Kevin’s favorite: the peanut-butter and jelly sandwich – You get protein, carbs, and some sugar—all good stuff to put into your system prior to a workout. It’s also easy to make with inexpensive ingredients, and can be prepared ahead of time and taken with you.
If you want to know what we recommend, check out our article comparing protein bars VS protein shakes.
On the other hand, here are some things to typically avoid:
- Fruit – You’re not getting enough energy out of fruit to make it a good choice for workout fuel. You’ll burn through it in the first few minutes (and, if you’re like me, run the risk of your body trying to pass it out of your digestive system at an inconvenient time).
- Yogurt – Like fruit, you don’t get many calories out of yogurt—making it effective as a snack to ward off appetite, but it won’t last you long as exercise fuel. The simple sugars also don’t provide too much energy.
- Fast Food – Unsurprisingly, fast food is not a good option for a pre-workout meal. The high-calorie count and large amounts of carbs and protein might seem like a viable energy source, but the high fat content makes this food very heavy; it can take a while to digest, and cause some amount of gastrointestinal discomfort in the process.
How soon you should eat before a workout depends somewhat on what you are eating. If you have eaten a full meal, the general consensus is that you should probably wait at least an hour or two before you work out, so that your meal has had some time to digest—that way, your body will have access to the energy it’s provided, and you won’t have too much in your stomach weighing you down.
On the other hand, if you’re specifically having a pre-workout snack, eat it as soon as possible before you workout—a snack won’t take as long to digest as a full meal, and you’ll have access to the energy it provides sooner.
Hopefully, the reasoning behind a post-workout meal is obvious. You’ve just exerted a lot of energy—possibly more energy than your pre-workout meals provided—and your muscles are depleted.
You need to refuel and help speed up the repairing of your muscles.
The options on what to eat at this point are somewhat broader than the suggestions for a pre-workout meal—you can eat something heavy if you like, since you don’t have to worry about it weighing you down.
But, whatever you pick, try to find a good balance between protein and carbs to provide an optimal recovery.
Protein, as many people know, is a fundamental building block for muscle tissue; it’s very common in nutritional supplements for that reason. The more aggressively you are doing resistance/strength training, the more protein you will need. Read our guide to know how much protein is right for you.
Carbs are useful because they quickly metabolize into glucose (basically, sugar); glucose is used by your body as a general-purpose energy source, but can also be used to accelerate the absorption rate of protein.
As sugar enters your bloodstream, insulin is produced to move the sugar to your tissues for storage; the insulin will also pick up the protein as well, shuffling it off for usage more quickly than it would be used otherwise.
As such, you want to try to mix your carbs with protein in order to boost the speed of protein absorption. You don’t want to go overboard on carbs, of course, since excess carbs will basically just become sugar that your body will have to deal with.
But finding a good balance of carbs and protein will speed up your recovery and help you be ready for your next workout.
Some suggestions for post-workout meals include:
- A whey protein shake (whey protein isolate) with Splenda: Splenda will help trigger an insulin response that will increase the absorption rate of protein, without the need for additional “real” sugar. This will get protein to your muscles very quickly!
- Frozen Yogurt: The simple sugars aren’t effective at providing workout fuel, but do provide a good mechanism for helping speed the absorption rate of protein. Pair this with another high-protein snack for good results!
All too often, individuals who are looking to improve the shape they are in are too quick to jump into advanced workouts without properly warming up.
They’re physically capable of lifting weights and performing basic exercise movements, so they think this is all they need to do—and then, they injure themselves doing anything complex, or complain of aches and pains.
Why is this?
Because in their haste to get right into “real” exercise, they neglect a proper warmup.
Little do they realize that a proper warmup can take as little as 10-to-15 minutes of their time, and significantly improve the quality of their workouts. A warmup of stretching important muscle groups and performing any corrective exercises would improve overall mobility and reduce the risk of injury, allowing them to push themselves harder and recover more effectively after each session.
What kinds of stretches should you perform?
Ideally, you should really perform a variety of stretches to loosen up your entire body, even if you don’t plan on working out certain parts of your body.
The reason why this is the case is because issues tend to build from the ground-up. If you have any tightness or problems with muscles or joints in your lower body, then muscles higher up on your body will need to work in order to compensate—and, in turn, this causes muscles still higher up to have to compensate for the muscles below.
The result is, for example, that you can have pain in your back, shoulders, or neck that are actually caused by issues with in your legs that are affecting your balance in some way; because your balance is off, your upper body will need to exert additional work to perform correctly—or, in some cases, the imbalance will cause your muscles to work incorrectly altogether, causing pain or discomfort.
So even if you aren’t actively planning on exercising your lower body in any given workout session, you should always perform some basic stretches to get your lower body muscles warmed up, so as not to disturb the balance of the rest of your body. And, of course, you should always give additional attention to the muscle groups you ARE working out in any given session!
Generally speaking, there’s a few common areas that provide frequent irritation to athletes; most of these are on the back side of the body. These include the calves, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, lower back, shoulders, and neck. Most of these are responsible for providing support to the body is some way or another, and as such, keeping these in good condition is very important.
Stretches can be roughly divided into two categories: static and dynamic. Static stretches involve taking a position, and holding it for a period of time—usually about 20 seconds. Dynamic stretches involve moving part of your body through a certain range, and are usually repeated a few times in order to maximize their effectiveness—perhaps 8 to 10 reps or so.
A complete list of stretches could potentially cover an entire website of its own. So, here’s a well-rounded list of stretches that we highly recommend you perform before any session of exercise. Ask your trainer if you’re not sure how to do them!
- Standing calf stretch (against the wall)
- Single-legged hamstring stretch/reach
- Crossover glute stretch (seated on ground)
- “Hollywood” stretch (for lower back)
- “Hurdler” stretch (one leg folded in, reach for straight leg)
- Single-leg quad stretch (from Hurdler stretch, lying on side)
- Supine crossover stretch (for lower back)
- Cat/dog stretch (for mid back)
- Neck/shoulder stretch
For suggestions on additional stretches to supplement specific workout routines, ask your trainer.
What is a “corrective exercise”? What kind of corrective exercises should you perform?
A “corrective exercise” has the same basic goal as a stretch—to loosen up a tight or problematic muscle group to improve its mobility.
However, whereas a stretch is intended to help prevent issues with joints and muscle groups, a corrective exercise is used when a specific joint or muscle group already has an issue of some kind that is affecting performance. A corrective exercise may also not involve much actual “stretching”, although a number of them do. Unlike many resistance or cardio training exercises, corrective exercises usually do not require much equipment to perform, and can usually be done from home.
For example, let’s say we have a runner with chronically tight calf muscles. As mentioned above, tight calf muscles can affect your overall balance; this imbalance can lead to pain in the knees and lower back, as well as “shin splints”, which are sharp pains in the front of the lower leg that commonly afflict runners or people who perform high-impact cardio exercises.
Simple stretching might not loosen up the calf muscles enough to alleviate the issue. A corrective exercise which can increase the range of motion of the calf muscles, and loosen them up more thoroughly, will help remedy the other pains resulting from the over-tight calf muscles.
Corrective exercises, as a subject, are a little bit more complex than stretches, since most exercises are used to try to resolve a specific, preexisting issue—unless you have a good understanding of any mobility issues you may have, trying to perform corrective exercises may not be an effective use of your time.
Speak with your trainer if you think you have mobility issues that are holding you back; your trainer should be able to diagnose your issue(s) and recommend appropriate corrective exercises for you to perform.
Myofascial release and you
Sometimes, tense areas of the body can be difficult to stretch out normally—areas such as the gluteal muscles or iliotibial band (“IT band”).
One option is myofascial release, which is applying physical pressure to a tense muscle group in order to loosen up stiffness and break up any scar-tissue that may be present.
This is sort of like a massage, and can in fact be done by hand by a properly trained masseuse or chiropractor. However, there are also options available for self-performed myofascial release. Applying pressure to the afflicted area using a round, firm object—like a foam roller or hard sports ball—can have the desired effect of breaking up tension or scar-tissue.
Oftentimes, significant pressure will be necessary to achieve any result—rest the afflicted part of your body on the ball or roller (or similar object of choice), adjust your balance so that your weight is being supported by the object, and then roll back and forth on the object so that it can dig deeply into the afflicted muscle group.
This is my list of great vegetarian recipes for simple weight loss plans.
Dieting is not easy for most people so let’s make this diet easy for you. Choose one recipe from each of the Meal Categories (ie: Breakfast, snacks, lunches and dinners) and implement it into your meal plan.
You should have 5-6 meals per day. Make sure that you’re able to fit these recipes into your daily caloric needs.
The Late Start Oatmeal Mashup
- 1/2 Cup of Oatmeal
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp chopped pecans or slivered almonds (All Natural Almond Accents, Butter Toffee Glazed)
- 1 packet of splenda
Mix all the dry ingredients, without the almonds. Add up to a 1/2 cup of hot water to this dry concoction and let cook. Top with the almonds and you’re all set to go. Serves up in a minute!
As an added bonus, if you’re the type to always be on-the-go, you can prepare the dry ingredients in advance and store in zip-lock baggies. Take this where ever you go. Great as a snack!
The Quick Protein Fix Oatmeal Mashup
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal
- 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
Mix the ingredients thoroughly and add hot water. You may not want to microwave the concoction because that’ll denature the protein. Serves up in seconds. You can even prepare the dry ingredients just like the mix above.
Popeye’s Protein Omelet
Serves 1 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 186 | Total Fat: 12.3g | Cholesterol: 430mg
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup torn baby spinach leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, beat the eggs, and stir in the baby spinach and Parmesan cheese. Season with onion powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
In a small skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat, cook the egg mixture about 3 minutes, until partially set. Flip with a spatula, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes, or to desired doneness.
Herbed Cottage Cheese
Serves 8 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 83 | Total Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg
- 2 cups 1% cottage cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Serve immediately.
With this jazzed-up version of light cottage cheese, I don’t miss the fat at all. Serve it with canned tuna and a few crackers for a great light lunch.
Cottage Cheese Salad
Serves 4 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 138 | Total Fat: 5.2g | Cholesterol: 17mg
- 1 (16 ounce) container cottage cheese, drained
- 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and diced
- salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and cucumbers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until serving.
LUNCH AND DINNER RECIPES
Insanely Easy Vegetarian Chili
Serves 4 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 155 | Total Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 0mg
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
- 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
- 1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn, undrained
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.
Stir in mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn. Season with cumin, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ginger Cabbage Salad
Serves 6 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 161 | Total Fat: 6.2g | Cholesterol: 0mg
- 3/4 cup pickled ginger
- 4 cups shredded cabbage, green or red
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup peanuts, crushed
- 1/4 cup mirin (sweetened Asian wine)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 4 scallions, sliced
Combine all of the ingredients. Thats it.
Mama’s Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Serves 4 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 163 | Total Fat: 7.7g | Cholesterol: 0mg
- 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- 1 roma (plum) tomato, seeded and diced
- 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
In a bowl, toss together the garbanzo beans, roma tomato, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Cover, and chill until serving.
Working out doesn’t always require a gym membership or expensive pieces of workout equipment.
If you’re looking to get in a really quick and effective workout that will get the blood flowing and make you sweat, try my Nebraska Workout!
Every one of my clients absolutely love and hate the Nebraska series.
It’s one part convenient and one part absolutely brutal! Everyone from traveling businessmen to stay-at-home moms love this workout because they can do this anywhere, anytime with little to no equipment whatsoever.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
Choose any number of exercises and list them off on a piece of paper. Keep it simple! If you don’t know of many simple, body-weight exercises, Google some!
With the list of exercises, do TEN repetitions of each exercise in consecutive order.
When you finish the entire list, do NINE of each exercise.
When you complete nine of each of the exercises, follow with EIGHT of each of them.
As you can tell, there’s a pattern. You perform the list with 10 reps of each, and then repeat all the way down till you finish with only one repetition of each exercise on the list.
Here’s an example of what I like to do:
- Jumping Jacks
- Push Ups
- Mountain Climbers
- Body Squats
- Squat Jumps
- Split Squat Jumps
- Sit Ups
- Leg Lifts
Do 10 of each, 9 of each, 8 of each, so on and so forth! The goal is to do this all without resting… at all!
Take it gradually and keep pushing yourself. It’s tough and you’ll hate it, but you need to stay motivated to get results.
If you’re serious about getting fit and want some extra help to get you there guaranteed, you should look into getting a personal trainer.
High protein diets are ever-so-popular in our culture.
It’s not just a trend, however. Eating foods high in lean proteins and low in carbohydrates has been proven to help dieters to lose weight and shed body fat.
However, not all protein sources will give you the best results.
This is is a list I’ve compiled of the most ideal protein sources for the best weight-loss results.
THE TOP 10 PROTEIN-PACKED FOODS FOR SHEDDING BODY FAT.
Here are my top ten most effective, protein-packed food choices for losing weight and shedding body fat. I know I may have omitted a few items here and there, but feel free to comment on the choices!
Quinoa is a very special source of protein-packed goodies.
It is a source of balanced essential amino acids to humans therefore it is considered a complete protein like chicken, fish and beef!
Extremely popular to people with special nutritional needs like vegans and vegetarians.
#9 WHEY PROTEIN BLENDS, MEAL REPLACEMENT SHAKES
You’ll find a lot of brands that will offer whey protein blends in the stores nowadays!
#8 LEAN CUTS OF BEEF, 4% LEAN GROUND BEEF, LONDON BROIL OR TOP ROUND
For you beef-lovers out there, this protein-packed food is high in protein and low in sodium.
It’s also a good source of Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of vitamin B12 and Selenium.
There is, however, the issue that it’s very high in cholesterol so be careful not to consume too much beef.
#7 BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST
Chicken breast is a very popular protein-packed food.
There are countless ways to prepare it and an infinite amount of recipes you can make with this bird! Just make sure that you get rid of the skin, fat, and bone and you’re good to go.
#6 TURKEY BREAST
Believe it or not, turkey breasts are actually considered to be a much healthier source of protein than chicken breasts because it has fewer calories and fat per ounce.
However, it also has fewer grams of protein per ounce than chicken.
#5 EGG WHITES
If you’re looking for a quick and easy source of protein without all the fat, then look no further.
Egg whites, whether beaten, hardboiled, in an omelette, or mixed in smoothies, are a great source of protein no matter the time of the day.
Egg whites are no longer just for breakfast!
#4 NONFAT GREEK YOGURT
Greek Yogurt has been very popular over the last few years with dieters because of its high-protein content.
Mix non-fat greek yogurt with fruit and you’re good to go, anytime, anywhere.
#3 NONFAT COTTAGE CHEESE
Long before the Greek Yogurt craze, there was non-fat cottage cheese.
This power-packed protein source was and still is a common-ground for protein lovers.
Whether vegetarian or steak/chicken lover, cottage cheese is popular for it’s versatility and flavor.
#2 FISH (HALIBUT, TROUT, TUNA, SALMON, TILAPIA, ORANGE ROUGHY)
Fish is a low-fat high quality protein filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin).
This source of protein also is rich in calcium, phosphorus and other useful minerals!
#1 WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATES
It’s the leanest of the lean.
What’s really great about this protein source is that it’s convenient, versatile, and highly inexpensive per serving.
Whey protein isolates come in many variety of flavors depending on the brands you buy.
Soy-based proteins like tofu – There’s been a lot of contraversy over soy and soy-based products but no one will deny that this source of protein is generally healthy for anyone who is health conscious.
Protein bars – Convenient and delicious! Protein bars are definitely for you if you are the “on-the-go” type. My only gripe about protein bars is that they generally come with a lot of sugar.
Almonds, Walnuts, and other nuts – The most basic protein-packed food you can find anywhere, anytime. However, these still come with a lot of fat and extra calories so this little contender doesn’t quite compete with the top 10.
Dieting for weight loss is more than just eating foods rich in protein and low in carbohydrates.
There’s so much more to consider when planning a successful nutritional plan. You have to consider whether your “diet” is going to be realistic and managable.
Is it something you can maintain for the next 12 weeks? Is it going to fit in with my lifestyle choices? Am I getting enough calories to be able to perform my best?
As with anything else that pertains to your new health and lifestyle choices, you should always consult with your personal trainer or physician prior to starting any kind of program.
Not all fast food joints offer only unhealthy meal options. Take a look at the following places we at Next Level Fitness enjoy eating without sacrificing our nutrition.
Chipotle: Create your own Chicken Bowl with black beans, chicken (double up on chicken if you are feeling extra hungry, but it is an extra cost), pico de gallo, grilled veggies and lettuce (*NO rice).
Wahoo’s: A Wahoo’s salad, no cheese; if you add banzai veggies it is yummy but NO tortilla chips please!
Flame Broiler: Chicken and veggie bowl (WITH white meat option)
El Pollo Loco: Chicken breast a la carte with a side salad; if you are really hungry add a side of veggies or pinto bean.
NOTE: This short post got a part II extended version! Check it out here for more fast food options.
Protein is an important part of your body and helps to build as well as repair tissue.
It is a so called ‘macronutrient’ meaning your body needs a larger amount than some other nutrients.
When looking for a meal replacement or a protein rich snack to supplement your workout, what is better, a bar or shake?
- Small and easilycarried in package; convenient
- Usually added vitamins, minerals and fiber creating higher calorie count
- Contain good carbohydrates and healthy fats
- Healthier snack choice than others
- Help with curbing cravings
- Conveniently Powder that needs to be added to water
- Allows for faster uptake of amino acids into muscles
- Help with daily recommended dosage of protein
- Allows for diversity of protein with less calories and fat compared to meat
- Essential for use as a post workout drink
First off, one or the other is better than nothing and if you have a strong dislike for one we recommend the other.
Those two things aside, we would suggest a protein bar before a shake. Research shows that digestion can burn calories and the liquid form of shakes naturally requires less work for your digestive system.
The digestive process of a bar takes longer compared to that of a shake and may hold off the feeling of hunger longer. We are not claiming that a protein shake is not useful, but possibly not as useful as a bar in your ultimate health goals.
Lastly, bars and shakes are good supplements but you should keep in mind they are not substitutes for whole food choices in a well rounded natural diet.
Check out this brand to help you with your fitness goals, Pure Organic!