Food Basics 101: Your Diet Makeover
While working out and transforming your body, a commonly overlooked factor is diet.
Sure, working out hard will allow for some change in your physique, but the true task
is to feed your body the necessities it requires for gaining lean muscle mass,
decreasing body fat and keeping up the energy level for these extra activites.
Now, I’m not talking about the diet you get out of a can or in a pill, or the one
that limits your food choices to one food group (or one food!). I am talking about
smart food choices; a lifestyle change that is fairly easy to adjust to and one
that anyone can live with.
Have you ever seen a person who works out like crazy, but never look any different?
I think every gym has one of these. These people are not doing one of two things:
varying their workouts (see workouts 101 section the F.I.T.T principle), or are
not making wise food choices. It is likely the latter, where they have not been
taught the basics…
Here, I will detail the very simple science behind food choices and how to incorporate
them by choosing from simple charts of the food option examples for the different
nutrients our bodies need. Keeping in mind too, that it is okay to indulge
sometimes, but a lifestyle change of healthy eating will not only ensure a
maintained physique, but also healthy insides for disease prevention. Use these
basic nutrition tips to help you get started and you will be sure to achieve the
success you have been looking for.
Note**When starting a new program of any sort (diet or exercise) be sure to consult
with your physician first**
THE MUSCLE NUTRIENT: P R O T E I N
It has been said that protein is the staple of any diet, especially to serve the
dietary needs of an athlete. Next to water, protein is the most abundant material
in the human body. It is present in muscle, bone, connective tissue skin and blood.
While consuming enough protein is essential for growth and development of the body,
eating huge amounts will not build muscle unless you are strength training at a
high intensity in order to cause muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth). This means
you should not fall into the high-protein fad that seems to be the latest trend
in North America. The following is a protein recommendation list based on the
current Recommendation for Dietary Allowance (RDA):
Sedentary or those who exercise infrequently = 0.4grams/1 pound of body weight
Active exerciser = 0.5-0.6grams/1 pound of body weight
Very active/weightlifter/endurance athlete = 0.7-0.8grams/1 pound of body weight
In general, about 15-20% of your total daily calories should come from protein.
Here is a list of some good sources of protein to get you started:
-top round/sirloin steak
-lean ground beef
-low fat cottage cheese
THE ENERGY NUTRIENT: C A R B O H Y D R A T E S
The supermarket shelves are filled with tons of “low carb” items and every new
fad diet screams to ‘cut the carbs, pass those potatoes and resist the rice’!!
Low carbohydrate diets will ultimately affect your stamina and endurance, so they
are in fact necessary since they are the body’s main source of fuel. Carbohydrates
fuel the body by providing our muscles with glycogen, while working out, and helps
us to optimize our athletic performance. Carbohydrates should be from minimally
processed sources like eating true whole wheat bread versus white bread or even
enriched bread (read labels carefully – sometimes the brown packaging or the name
“health/12- grain” bread can be deceiving).
Carbohydrates should make up about 55-60% of your total caloric intake, depending
on your activity level. Here is a list of food sources of carbohydrates to help you:
-oatmeal (whole oats)
-whole wheat bread/tortilla
THE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT: F A T
Fats are an important and necessary nutrient for everyone. That is, some fats – you
see, there are those that are saturated and are not good for your cholesterol levels,
potentially causing clogged arteries. The fats that are considered good for your body
are unsaturated fats. These can actually help protect against heart disease by
reducing cholesterol and providing the body with extra energy. Basic rule here,
if it is a solid at room temperature, it is usually saturated (bad) ; if it is a
liquid at room temperature it is unsaturated (good). Of course, here is a list to
help you with some of the good fats you should include in your diet:
-flax seed oil
-fish body oils (EFAs=essential fatty acids)
THE HYDRATION NUTRIENT: W A T E R
Drinking water during exercise is necessary to sustain performance and to avoid injury.
What to drink and how often to drink it really depends on the duration and type of workout
you are doing. There are some activities like long distance running which may require
more than water (sports drinks help to also replenish lost electrolytes). A general
hydration rule is to drink one 8oz glass of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.
Now that you are armed with your food basics, you can incorporate this into your
existing regimen to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Below are some other quick tips
to follow to make this transition more easily:
Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to feed your metabolism and
raise it naturally, so you are able to burn calories at a more efficient rate
Prepare foods in advance so when you are “starving hungry”, you are less likely to eat junk
Season meats/fish the night before so that they are tastier when cooked
Don’t deprive yourself; if you crave chocolate chip cookies, have one or you’ll end
up eating an entire bag tomorrow!
Chew slowly and serve small portions at a time so you stop eating when you are full
Do not skip meals – this sets you up for overeating
Keep a diet journal so you can stay on top of your new lifestyle change
Karen Lisa Borders is a drug-free natural athlete and the 2004 International
Fitness Model Champion where she outclassed over 225 competitors to take the most
prestigious title in Fitness Modeling.
Karen Lisa competes with World Natural Sports (www.worldnaturalsports.com) and will
be defending her title at the FAME International Event in 2005. For more information,
www.fameworldevents.com or send an email to email@example.com
Train Hard…Train Natural…Love your Body!