Nowadays it seems like everyone is starting a new fitness plan or studies have just been released on the latest and greatest fad diet. For someone who is just starting out, this can be a little overwhelming. Do you go on the low carb, low fat, high protein diet, or do you go high carb, low fat? Fitness, healthy living, and weight loss can be broken down into two main categories: food and exercise.
Let’s start with the basics of nutrition:
- There are these magical things called macronutrients. These are what you should be consuming the most of. Your macronutrients are carbs, fats, and proteins.
- “But wait… Aren’t carbs the devil?” – Not at all! In fact, 40%-60% of your daily energy intake should be coming from carbs. However, there are good carbs, and there are bad carbs. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are all carbohydrates. Aim for the carbs that are higher in fibre. These are complex carbs, they break down slowly and they slowly raise blood sugar over time, unlike simple carbs such as candy and white breads.
- “Alright, but fat is the stuff getting in the way of me having a six pack…” – Again, there are good fats and bad fats. Fats are essential for your diet. Approximately 30% of your daily energy should come from fat. Good fats are found in foods such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, and nuts.
- “Protein! That’s the good stuff” – Although protein is important, it’s actually the macronutrient you should be consuming the least amount of. Only 12%-20% of your daily energy should be coming from protein.
The basics of exercise:
- It is recommended that people do an hour or more of physical activity each day.
- “Yeah, but to be fit I need to do Cross Fit and complete an IronMan” – Actually, this isn’t true. Although people who complete IronMans and do CrossFit are in excellent shape, you can do something as simple as going for a brisk walk. If your goal is to lose weight, then it is more important that you eat healthy. As the sayings go “fitness is 80% diet and 20% exercise”.
- Exercising can be broken down into two sub categories:
- Cardio: This is also known as aerobic exercise. It is long lasting, lower intensity exercise that requires oxygen to meet the demand of exercise. These are things like running, cycling, rowing, walking etc.
- Strength Training: This is also known as anaerobic exercise. This is short lasting, high intensity exercise. The body can’t get enough oxygen to supplement this workout, so it uses energy stored in the muscles.
- “Okay… So if I want to lose weight, what do it do?” – Some people will tell you to do cardio, some will tell you do to strength training. Most experts would agree that it is best to do a combination of the two. Ideally we should be doing 4-5 cardio workouts that last 30-60minutes each week and strength training 3-4 times a week.
When it gets broken down, fitness doesn’t have to be so complicates.