Fad diets don’t work. And it’s not because you’re doing something wrong. Popular, calorie-restricting plans are simply not sustainable. So, what will last?
Put an end to starving yourself and embrace this concept: Strong is the new skinny. In order to achieve a strong, fit body, you must find a healthy balance between nutrition and exercise. That means regular exercise (more fitness tips here) and NO MORE yo-yo dieting.
When it comes to nutrition, you must…
…fuel your body with quality calories.
Consider this: There are 4 calories per 1 gram of protein compared to 9 calories per 1 gram of fat. Consuming more calories from protein is clearly the smart choice. Protein not only fills you up faster — and keeps you full longer — than fat, but it’s also responsible for building lean muscle mass. I tell my clients that it’s easier to lose muscle than it is to gain it, which is why it’s important to fuel up with the proper amount of muscle-building protein each day. The recommended daily amount for women is 46 grams, or 10% of a 2,000-calorie day. Use this as a baseline, because if you’re very active, your body may need closer to 15-20% of your total daily calories.
Fuel tip: When you’re on the go and don’t have time for a quality meal, opt for a nutritional bar with at least 10 grams of protein. If you’re afraid of a melted chocolatey mess in your bag, ready-to-drink protein shakes are also a convenient choice.
…supplement with the essentials.
About 30 minutes before you hit the gym and immediately after you leave, fuel your body with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These amino acids assist in maintaining performance while exercising, making a BCAA supplement a smart pre-workout choice. After your workout, BCAAs help promote muscle recovery so that the fibers can repair and grow stronger.
Your muscles aren’t the only part of you enduring the physical stress of exercise. Regular weight lifting and cardio activities will eventually be felt in your joints. Before the discomfort settles in, support your joints with quality essential fatty acids. EFAs are known to aid in joint comfort and mobility. The best source is a supplement, but you may prefer an actual food source such as chia seeds.
Finally, I recommend a multi-vitamin. If you aren’t already taking one, trust me when I say that an active body craves essential vitamins and minerals every day. It may be hard to narrow down the options (there are a ton out there!). So my advice to you is to look for a multi that you only need to take once daily, has energizing B vitamins and provides vitamin D3 and calcium for bone support. Anything beyond that, can be determined by your specific health needs.
Jennifer Nicole Lee is an international fitness model, best-selling author and motivational speaker who has appeared on Oprah, CBS The Early Show, Inside Edition, E! Entertainment and Fox and Friends. She is the author of the The Fun Fit Foodie Cookbook and was named one of the “Three Top Females in the Fitness Industry” of 2011 by Yahoo Sports. Check out her health and fitness tip videos exclusively on the Vitacost Live Wire.