Fitness and nutrition expert Cain Leathem gives advice on how to stay fitter.
1) DRINK PLENTY OF WATER – Water intake is drastically under-rated by most people. It is actually one of the most important aspects of your diet as it controls so many vital bodily functions including temperature regulation, nutrient uptake (including vital carbohydrate storage to fuel exercise), waste removal…all in all your sports performance, as well as physical appearance, depends on it! The body is actually around 60% water so get drinking…and tea, coffee, pop and alcohol (sorry!) don’t count as they are diuretic and actually remove water from the tissues where it is needed! Also consider the source and quality of your water…it is the major delivery medium of the vital gases that make up the vast majority of our body – hydrogen and oxygen.
2) EAT FREQUENT, QUALITY MEALS – in order to deliver the required amounts of quality nutrients needed to keep the body growing and repairing (anabolic) and to fuel Optimal Health. Overloading by eating less frequent meals stresses the digestive system and jeopardises nutrient uptake. Remember that everything that you eat is important and as such you should want to absorb it. The saying “you are what you eat” fails to appreciate the importance of the complexities of digestion, absorption, circulation, assimilation, utilisation and then elimination. We should look to understand and maximise the efficiency of each and every process to feed the amazing machine that is the body.
3) ENSURE THAT YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE IS ADEQUATE – when trying to optimise your health and your physique you may need to side with real-world results rather than with “science-backed” generic government recommendations. There have been studies to support the ongoing claims that raising protein intake = increased lean muscle tissue, faster metabolism, better fat loss and healthier skin, hair as well as functioning with a stronger immune system, better healing properties etc. So you will be stronger, perform better and look fantastic!
4) EAT REAL FOOD – This does not include a quick pot noodle or a microwave wonder meal… If you are serious about your health then spend a little time in the kitchen the night before and pop a healthy meal, couple of snacks and some fresh vegetables or salad into a tupperware tub. Also by relying on supplements you will miss out on vital constituents of a healthy diet – including fibre, phytonutrients and variety.
5) CONCENTRATE ON UNREFINED COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES – High intakes of refined and processed foods are common in our modern western diet. This greatly reduces our intake of vital nutrients, the majority of which are removed during processing. As individuals we require all the nutrients that we can get, especially from our daily food intake. Eat more whole-foods rather than white rice, white bread and packet foods. Focus on the foods and in their natural form that we evolved with as a species.
6) EAT PLENTY OF FIBROUS CARBOHYDRATES – High fibrous vegetables not only deliver important fibre but also vitamins and minerals. Eat a variety as an accompaniment to meals and as a snack throughout the day, rather than sweets and biscuits! Vary the colours of produce to ensure an array of plant based phytonutrients and anti-oxidants.
7) MINIMISE YOUR SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE – Sugars have no place in a health-conscious diet. They suppress the immune system, act as a stimulant stressing the adrenal glands and cause an ensuing cortisol response (which is catabolic to muscle tissue), as well as secreting excess insulin that can lead to fat accumulation as well as many other associated problems. The last thing you want is to be all hyper and unfocused at the start of your training and then suffer the ensuing crash just as soon as you are warmed up…
8) KEEP YOUR WORKOUTS FOCUSED ON YOUR GOAL – The purpose of your exercise regime is to stimulate muscle which in-turn, when given the right nutrients and rest, repairs and grows to compensate for the ongoing stress it receives. Overlong workout periods will result in amino acids (proteins) being utilised as an energy source, and these will come from catabolised muscle – a loss of muscle tissue is detrimental to your goals. Don’t neglect the importance of stretching for your mobility and range of movement. On top of this lots of walking is great for your heart and burns fat off (your optimum pace will vary according to genetics and conditioning)!
9) USE QUALITY, AND RELEVANT, SUPPLEMENTS AS REQUIRED – Modern living and intense/regular training raises the bodys’ demand for nutrients required for repair and growth, as well as the nutrients needed for the metabolism of the increased food intake. Extra nutrients are also required to boost the immune system, which is suppressed by intense exercise, and to act as anti-oxidants for the increased free-radical damage caused by exercise. We must learn to understand that the more we demand of ourselves the more we need to feed and support the amazingly complex biological machine that is the human body.
10) EMPLOY A PROFESSIONAL! – The above guidelines are an overview. Each of us is an individual, with genetic differences, personal aims and goals and as such it should be understood that there is no “one size fits all” advice. Each person should have an awareness of their own individuality – that their personal destination, be it aesthetic or performance based, is different from others and that indeed it may change as the journey takes place. A professional, that is relevant to that journey and destination of the client, needs to understand the need for continual assessment and action based on results. Seek out advisors that not only have proven knowledge on their topic but who recognise and empathise with the wonderful and unique person that you are.
There are many more tips to enhance your training and results but if you follow these tips (especially number 10!) you will start to put all the pieces of the complex puzzle together, maybe the most important one of all is CONSISTENCY!
See my article on a suggested one day food regime, coming soon!