Getting into shape is a dream that many Americans share in common. After the days of school day athletics are left behind, many find that the humdrum lifestyle of an average working middle class person leaves little time or energy for matters of physical fitness. Nevertheless, with a little work, the dream can become a reality even for those who have not seen a gym in decades.
Before cardio and weight lifting routines can result in true results, however, most people will need to make the decision to make changes to diet as well. For those who are trying to get fit, trim, and toned, there are certain foods that carry more value than others. Finding those foods and good ways to combine them for a healthy and delicious meal can make the days of ‘beer bellies’ and ‘thunder thighs’ a thing of the past.
Proteins are the most trumpeted of all of the food groups when it comes to those looking to build muscle and strength at the gym. For beginners, it is not necessarily recommended to exceed the daily recommended values of protein, but there are many Americans who are not yet meeting those levels. If you are among those individuals, then increasing protein intake would be a great way to rev up your workout efforts. Consider foods such as fish (which also features very important Omego-3 fatty acids), skinless poultry, beans, peanut butter, tofu, egg whites, and skim milk (or skim milk byproducts such as yogurt and low fat cheese). All of these foods are protein packed. Though, one should keep in mind that in an effort to increase protein it is easy to increase fat intake. Be careful to continue counting calories and manage fat by choosing low fat or no fat alternatives.
Fruits and vegetables are also very important – not just to weight lifters, but to everyone looking to feel and look better. Rich with necessary nutrients and vitamins, foods like spinach, collard greens, asparagus, sweet or hot peppers, apples, pears, and peaches bring vast amounts of fiber that will keep the body feeling full longer and help with digestion. They are also full of the vitamins that the body needs to function at full potential.
Though these elements have an increased importance for those who are ready to hit the gym, it is essential to remember that diversity is the key to great health. Many people who are attempting to lose weight will do away with carbohydrates almost entirely. This is not wise for the person trying to get tone. Carbs provide lasting energy for the body, which is feeds from in order to get strong and increase endurance. Be sure to get a healthy dose of foods from all food groups and punch up the protein and fiber for the added kick. Rather than doing away with carbohydrates, opt for those that have added benefits. Instead of white bread, white rice, or macaroni, choose whole wheat pastas, multigrain breads, and brown rice. Other great options include whole grain cereals, lentils, bulgur, or barley. In fact, the very same beans previous mentioned also offer healthy doses of difficult to digest carbohydrates. It may seem odd to choose something that is harder for the body to digest, but that that means is that the sugars, which are the byproduct of those foods, are released into the blood stream more slowly. The sugar is necessary for proper body function, as it becomes the primary source of energy, but too much of it at one time is not a good thing. Foods like white bread and white rice are broken down easily and the sugar is leaked into the bloodstream all at once. Not only does this lead to new fat deposits, it also leads to drastic blood sugar spikes that prevent the body from functioning at maximum efficiency.
Learning ratios of fats to protein and protein to carbohydrates, as well as the healthiest choices in each group, can give you an added advantage as you work toward your individual fitness goals.
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