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The 6 basics of a good nutrition plan

Whether you are trying to put on weight or reduce fat, let me inform you that 60-70% of your success will depend on your diet. If you train hard on a bad diet, you should not expect to be very successful. After all our bodies are built and maintained by the nutrition that we provide it with. Thus if you wish to be in the peak condition that you can be then you must take your nutritional plan seriously. 

One major problem when formulating a diet is the vastly conflicting information that is out there. I mean somewhere you will read that carbs are bad, and in other places you will hear that they are good. Someone will tell you that saturated fat is evil, whereas someone else will tell you that you can have more than 50% of your calories from saturated fats, etc. In short there is enough conflicting information out there to drive you M-A-D. 

Unfortunately somewhere down the line we have lost faith in the concept of trying to have a balanced diet. Everyone seems to be too busy trying to sort out that one evil nutrient in their nutritional program which seems to be the only culprit that is stopping them for having a superior physique. I personally prefer a more balanced nutritional program to help myself and my clients. Why do I prefer to do so and not go after fad programs? The answer would simply lie in the fact that I have tried various fad programs and have faced the negative consequences. 

Moving on, in my opinion there are some basics that one must follow irrespective of their goal, when planning their diet. There are some principles that apply for all types of goals, whether that be muscle gain, fat loss, strength building, etc. Here are the 6 basics of a good nutrition plan that everyone would do well to follow:

1)    Eat wholesome foods rather than empty calories- in modern times the fast food business has become very successful. People often crave for fried chips, pizzas, etc. The consumption of wholesome foods has diminished and has been replaced by refined foods. This is not good for your body. You will need to eat more wholesome foods like legumes, meat, whole grains, fruits, etc if you want to have a good looking and healthy body. You do not need to eliminate junk food entirely. Having junk food occasionally will not harm you if you eat clean 80% of the time. Of course if you have a medical condition like Diabetes then you will need to allow yourself even lesser cheat meals.

2)    Appropriate number of calories- if you want to get big then eat more calories than what you burn, and if you want to slim down then eat lesser calories than what you burn. Never believe anyone who tells you that the total number of calories does not matter and that only the type of calories matter. Yes the type of calories do matter as I have mentioned in the 1st basic, however you also have to keep an eye on the total calories that you consume. Ideally eat 10-15% surplus calories than what you burn to add size, and eat 10-15% lesser calories than what you burn if you want to reduce fat. Going too high when adding size will lead to unwanted fat gain and going too low when trying to slim down will cause muscle loss and make fat loss in the future difficult. In the end you will have to experiment for yourself to see what is the ideal caloric intake for you.

3)    Eat appropriate amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins- nowadays a lot of fad diets ask for complete elimination of carbs and/or fats. Such diets are harmful for your health. Infact such types of shameless fad diet programs that are promoted by selfish "experts" make me angry and at times frustrated with this industry. I mean its very easy to catch the attention of most people by coming out with a fad program that sounds great and promising, but in the long run a balanced approach works best and is HEALTHY!

      In a healthy balanced diet carbs are essential, as they are needed to produce energy in the body, and a very low carb intake will make it tough for you to exercise intensely. Keep carbs around 40-60% of your total calories consumed.     

Fats are also essential for a proper hormonal profile in the body. A hormonal imbalance will make adding muscles or losing fat difficult. Keep fat intake around 25-30 % of total calories. Never let it go below 20%. Avoid hydrogenated oils, refined oils margarine when choosing dietary fat. Choose monounsaturated fats like nuts, olive oil, etc, but also do not avoid saturated fats like whole eggs, coconut oil, etc as they are an essential part of a balanced diet.

When it comes to protein people generally tend to overeat or undereat it. Keep protein intake to around 20-30% of total caloric intake for most purposes. You do not need huge amounts of protein to build muscle, 20-30% of your calories from protein is good enough if you also get enough carbs and fat in your diet too. And if you are looking to lose fat, still no point going too high on protein. Always try to maintain a good balance for best long term results.

4)    Limit smoking and drinking- I am sure you must know that heavy smoking and drinking is not good for your health. Having said that alcohol in moderation can still be good, but smoking is not! Overall try and stay away from these toxic substances, and rely more on nutritious choices.

5)    Eat breakfast- it is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast helps to charge you up for the day and helps in controlling the craving to binge in the afternoon and evening. Eat a good breakfast containing some fruit, some protein for eg. eggs, and some carbs like oatmeal, brown bread, etc. You do not necessarily need to have a huge breakfast, nor do you need to eat immediately upon waking up, but do try to eat something within 2-3 hours of waking up.

6)    Frequency of meals- often experts suggest to break down your daily food intake into 5-6 smaller meals. This is however not always possible, especially for very busy individuals. Try to break up your food intake over 3-6 meals a day, depending on what suits you. As long as you can have the total number of calories required for you at the end of the day, the number of meals will not matter so much. 

So these are the 6 basic rules of a good nutrition plan that should be followed by everyone irrespective of their goals. Follow these guidelines and train hard to have the body of your dreams.

Image courtesy- Wikipedia images

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