Most athletes understand that to build muscle and lose fat, they have to eat right, but exactly what does that mean?
What constitutes a great nutrition plan?
Ask 100 different athletes, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. The topic of diet and nutrition creates the most confusion. The media bombards us with hundreds of different diets and eating plans published in books, fitness magazines, the web and on DVD, not to mention all of those infomercials selling gadgets and miracle pills. No wonder there is so much confusion. Even for experienced professionals, separating the facts from fiction among all of this slick-marketed material can become overwhelming.
Some people see this wealth of information as a good thing – I mean, everyone’s different, so everyone requires a different approach, right?
Well, no. What the fitness industry really has become is a junk-heap of false conclusions, half-baked theories and endless contradictions that have created so much uncertainty and confusion that most people don’t know which way to turn.
The First thing most athletes need is the information to help them determine what constitutes an effective, efficient nutrition plan; what will work and what won’t.
Secondly, most athletes need to know how to construct a great nutrition plan – a complete plan that can be contoured to meet the needs of anyone.
So what constitutes a good nutrition plan?
The best way to determine this is to ask, what should a good nutrition plan accomplish?
Understand that any good nutrition plan must accomplish the following three objectives.
1. Improve Body Composition – Build Muscle, Lose Bodyfat
As adults, with every passing decade, we lose muscle mass. Due to its profound impact on our health and metabolism, building muscle should be the focus of every fitness program. Building muscle (lean body mass) increases metabolism (metabolic rate). An individual’s metabolic rate is their largest single contributor to daily energy expenditure.
For this reason, increasing metabolic rate addresses the core of improving body composition. Never forget that improving body composition is the only (non-surgical) way to improve body shape. For most people, improvements in body shape are the main focus of their exercise plan. Therefore, a nutrition program designed to improve body composition will give you the body shape want and the health you need.
2. Improve Health
Building muscle, shedding body fat, enhancing athletic performance are all by-products of optimum health. Optimum health can only be achieved via an optimum approach to nutrition. The human body is an amazing, complex entity. The intricacy and precision of its daily biochemical reactions and physiological processes make the latest formula-one racing technology seem like a Fischer Price toy!
To create and maintain optimal health, this state-of-the-art machine requires a spectrum of nutrients from a variety of nutritional sources. Most bodybuilders tend to eat a restricted variety of foods – their choices revolve around chicken breasts, white rice, and a little salad. If you are one of these individuals, then you maybe short-circuiting your own progress.
Others look for one fix-all nutrient, pill, or supplement to solve their nutritional problems. Don’t be one of these people. Instead, educate yourself, become a student of good nutrition.
I wish I could visit every gym and fitness center in the country just to tell every single person in there, one thing. It doesn’t matter what the exercise if you’re slugging it out on the treadmill, bike, or the weight room; without optimum levels of the nutrients your body needs, you will not get the results you’re working so hard for. In fact, most people’s diets are calorie-dense but nutrient-deficient.
When you exercise a nutrient-deficient body you are not making it healthier; you are creating a greater deficiency. Most people who fail to achieve results from consistent exercise training fall into this category. Creating and maintaining the robust, vibrant health that ensures a complete body transformation means a quality supply of an array of nutrients.
3. Enhance Performance
This objective is intertwined with the preceding goal. A nutrition plan that focuses on creating excellent health via an optimum approach to nutrition will build a premium body that excels at any athletic pursuit, no matter what the activity.
Conversely, to achieve any fitness-related goal requires intense exercise training on a consistent basis. To exercise intensely almost every day, recover and make gains requires premium fuel, quality nutrition.
A premium body that excels in athletic performance is not built from a diet that restricts key nutrients. For example, any eating plan that restricts or eliminates a key macronutrient such as carbohydrates will fail to provide the fuel that powers intense training. Therefore, it will fail to provide permanent results.
How can you determine quickly and easily whether or not a diet or nutrition plan has the potential to be successful?
Quite simply, any eating plan must achieve each of these objectives simultaneously, or the benefits obtained (if any) will be short-lived. If you apply this simple 3-step criterion I’ve just described, you’ll discover that around 90% of all commercial diets can be wiped out straight away!
A great nutrition plan that achieves a successful (long-term) physique transformation must meet the three fundamental objectives;
1. Improve body composition (build muscle, shed fat)
2. Optimize health (optimum approach to nutrition)
3. Achieve peak performance (fuel to power intense training)
As you can imagine, to achieve all of these goals with one nutritional approach is difficult. For example, competitive bodybuilders eat for the first objective only, but not the last two. So they never achieve sustainable improvements. They can’t maintain excellent condition for a prolonged amount of time.
Conversely, other athletes eat for peak performance but struggle with maintaining a low body fat percentage.
Understand this; you can eat for all three of these objectives. You should eat to achieve all three objectives. In fact, to achieve permanent results, you must learn how to eat to meet all three objectives.
However, a wealth of dietary knowledge isn’t essential to ensure success. What is essential to success is the implementation of the correct nutritional plan that will meet all three objectives; better health, performance, and body composition.
In future articles, I’ll discuss how to do this. For now, at least you know exactly what constitutes a great nutritional plan.