Have you ever asked, “What is a great diet plan for fitness?” You are not alone. Many people wonder how to eat healthy, even though it seems difficult. Designing your diet plan for fitness requires focus on nutrition and exercise. To get started, simply click on the link above and you’ll be directed to a comprehensive guide on getting into shape.
6 STEPS TO CREATE YOUR OWN FITNESS & DIET PLAN
You’re ready to start a new diet or fitness regimen but not quite sure where to begin. It’s a common predicament — with so many different fitness and diet plans available on the internet, the prospect of selecting the right one for you can be intimidating. Each program looks completely different, so how are you supposed to know which one will actually work?
While many fitness and diet plans promise to deliver exceptional results for every participant, they often fail to live up to their lofty claims. In reality, no good one-size-fits-all approach to dieting exists. A plan that works wonders for one person could prove disastrous for the next. Hence, the need for a targeted system that takes your unique situation into account — a customized exercise and nutrition regimen built with your unique goals and fitness level in mind to deliver real results.
While it’s easy to understand the need for a targeted approach, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of options available. This information overload can make it difficult to get started. To that end, we’ve outlined some key steps you can take to craft a fitness and diet plan that works for you.
1. BEGIN BY IDENTIFYING YOUR GOALS
Have you taken the time to define your wellness goals? Without a clear objective in mind, you’re unlikely to make significant progress.
Your current goals may look different than those held by your friends and family members — and you may adjust your goals to reflect your changing life circumstances over time. Common themes include:
- Losing weight
- Building lean muscle mass
- Reducing blood pressure and cholesterol
- Running a marathon or completing a triathlon
As you determine which objectives should underscore your diet and fitness efforts, opt for SMART goals. This commonly used acronym helps you develop goals that can realistically be achieved with a little planning and effort.
WHAT ARE SMART GOALS?
Does your current goal involve a general desire to lose weight or build muscle? Without a precise definition, you may struggle to understand what your goal actually entails and whether it’s healthy or within reach.
When setting fitness goals, it’s essential that you use detailed language to describe exactly what you want to accomplish. Research suggests that people who use vivid language when writing goals are between 1.2 and 1.4 times more likely to reach their desired outcome.
If you’re struggling to develop specific goals, try this simple trick: draft an objective that would make it easy for anyone to understand what you’re looking to accomplish. Better yet, get others in on the effort. After you’ve reflected on and drafted your initial goals, let a friend read them and explain your goal in their own words. If their understanding lines up with yours, your goals are clear.
What do you want to accomplish? Be as precise as possible. For example, saying “I want to lose 5 pounds in a month” is better than “I want to lose weight.” People who get specific with their goals are more likely to achieve them. To find the right meal recipes for your diet, check Kitchenistic for more.
How will you know when you’ve achieved your goals? Numbers will get you motivated at the outset, while also making it easier to track your progress. This, in turn, will help you stay on track, even when the going gets tough.
Measurable fitness goals can take many forms. While many people immediately thinking of losing a certain amount of weight, you can also aim to finish a race in a certain amount of time or bench press a specific amount of weight.
There’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals, but beware: if you set unrealistic goals, you may lose motivation when your results fall short. When possible, stick with short-term, attainable goals that move you incrementally toward your long-term goals. For example: if you would eventually like to lose fifty pounds, resist the urge to set the huge goal of dropping it in six months. Instead, focus on the next thirty days and what you can do to lose a more realistic five pounds. Once you’ve achieved this initial goal, you’ll be fired up to move on to the next step.RELEVANTHow does your goal fit in with your current lifestyle? Will you have to make several major changes all at once? Will you receive support from your friends and loved ones? If the goal is not compatible with your current situation — or if you lack the equipment needed to accomplish it — you’re setting yourself up for failure.
This is a common problem among new parents. The idea of cooking all meals from scratch or spending an hour at the gym each day might be appealing, but their lifestyle (busy days, sleepless nights, and a general increase in stress) probably won’t support this. In this situation, a relevant goal might involve a bit more flexibility; perhaps half an hour in the home gym every day, but with more intense HIIT exercises.
Every goal needs an end date. Without this key inclusion, there’s no urgency — and the temptation to procrastinate will be strong. Yes, you can aspire to lifelong goals and lifestyle changes involving holistic health, but you still need to set smaller, more manageable goals along the way. Using the above example of losing five pounds in a month, you can set an initial date for your end goal, and, if needed, set a new, more ambitious objective after you lose those first few pounds.
2. PLAN YOUR WORKOUTS
You’ve set your SMART goal and are ready to get moving. In your excitement, however, you risk going too hard out of the gate and getting overwhelmed, or worse, injured. Instead, begin by choosing one new workout that suits you.
These exercises work all the major muscles of your body, including the arms, legs, core, and back. The end goal: build muscle mass. This will increase your metabolism, making it easier to lose weight even when you’re not actively exercising. Additionally, strength training tones your body, helping you achieve a fitter appearance regardless of what you see on the scale.
Examples of strength training exercises include:
- Using free weights, such as dumbbells or kettlebells. These may be used for lifting, as in bicep curls, or added to common bodyweight exercises such as squats or lunges.
- Weightlifting with stationary gym equipment. Many people appreciate the convenience of home gyms.
- Bodyweight exercises that incorporate resistance. Top options include planks, push-ups, leg raises, or wall sits.
- Yoga. Poses such as the warrior can improve strength, flexibility, and even mental clarity.
If you’ve previously skipped stretching, it’s time to reevaluate your approach to working out. Exercises that stretch your muscles are important because they help improve your posture and balance. They also help you prevent or recover from injuries. Being flexible allows you to enjoy activities with greater ease and less pain.
A little additional range of motion can go a long way toward making your long-term goals more attainable — and making you feel more comfortable in the meantime. If you’d like to improve your flexibility, try these exercises and activities:
- Tai chi
Whether you love it or hate it, cardio is fundamental to your health. Regularly raising your heart rate during workouts can help you lower your risk of heart disease.
Variety is one of the greatest benefits of cardio. A vast range of activities can get your heart pumping, and, if you keep at it, you’ll find at least one you love or that is easy to stick with on a long-term basis. Examples include:
- Cross-country skiing
- Brisk walks
- Machines such as the treadmill or elliptical
- Group sports such as basketball, football, or volleyball
- HIIT workouts
With so many great options available, it can be tough to know where to start. When in doubt, opt for activities that you have access to — and time to pursue on a regular basis.
Find creative ways to fit movement into your schedule in a way you enjoy. For example, if you move at a quick pace, walking the dog can count as your daily cardio. If you love to watch sports on TV, hit the recumbent bike while you enjoy the big game.
3. CREATE A SCHEDULE
Despite being armed with SMART goals, fun activities, and the best of intentions, you may struggle to fit in time for your workouts. Such obstacles may be fueled, in part, by your busy schedule. Still, it’s easy to fall into the trap of relaxing on the couch instead of working out when your exercise session isn’t explicitly written on the calendar.
A simple workout schedule can shift your mentality by establishing a positive habit and ditching the inner “should I or shouldn’t I” negotiations that hold you back.
Begin by writing down exactly which exercises you’ll do with set days and times. This information can be detailed in a calendar or planner. Better yet, set a reminder on your phone. Congratulate yourself for a successful workout with a checkmark — you’ll be amazed by how satisfying this simple action feels.
4. DETERMINE YOUR DIET
Like it or not, there’s truth in the cliche about abs being made in the kitchen. You could spend hours on the treadmill and still gain weight if your diet primarily consists of prepackaged foods containing simple carbs and excessive trans or saturated fats.
A variety of healthy diet plans can complement your workout efforts. Common examples include clean eating and the Mediterranean diet. No matter your preferred route, plant-based foods should receive special attention. Daily essentials include fresh (or frozen) fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains. Aim for a balanced mix of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Timing may also be a consideration; some people swear by intermittent fasting, while others simply limit midnight snacks.
5. CREATE A MEAL PLAN
Meal planning is a fundamental principle of healthy eating. If you prepare nutritious meals and snacks in advance, you’ll be less susceptible to the lure of processed meals and fast food. You can even use the time you save with meal prep to fit in more exercise.
To begin, search for recipes that align with your diet of choice. Find a few meals you find appetizing and create a list of groceries. Stick exclusively to this list while at the store.
Following a successful grocery shopping trip, set aside an hour or two to prep your meals all at once. Chopping produce and cooking grains in advance will help you save valuable time during the week.
6. REEVALUATE YOUR GOALS
Commit to your new diet and workout plan for a full month. At the end of the month, reevaluate to determine if your regimen is effective. Ask yourself the following key questions:
- Did you follow the diet and exercise plan you created?
- Did you enjoy your workouts? What about your healthy meals?
- Did any time constraints make it difficult to stick to your exercise plan?
If you found that following a new diet or workout was too difficult, consider making a few modifications. Lighter workouts or a more appetizing meal plan should help. If, however, you’ve had success in your first month, keep going. Keep in mind that you can always change foods or workouts that eventually grow boring. Continual reassessment will keep you feeling inspired as you make progress toward your goals.
THE ULTIMATE DIET PLAN FOR BEGINNERS
Losing weight is 50% perspiration and 50% digestion.
The first step to addressing your weight loss goals is what many see as the most difficult obstacle: fixing your eating habits.
We’ve spent our entire lives developing a taste for certain types of foods, and often it’s the unhealthy kinds: processed carbs, fast food, sugary pastries, and, let’s not forget, deep-fried. But our eating habits go deeper than that…deep within our psyche: maybe you’re a picky eater and avoid green food, maybe your parents idea of cooking was the drive-thru window of a fast food joint, or maybe you just don’t know any better.
But now that you’re older and wiser, it’s time to arm yourself with some knowledge of how to eat right and feel better. Forget trend diets that you only follow for a month, these tips will set you up for long-term success.
What foods should I eat?
The answer to this shouldn’t surprise you: healthy food! And food that’s as close to its natural state as possible.
You need to begin thinking of food in terms of the amount of macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat— it provides, and try to keep track of the foods you get those nutrients from (more on this below).
Your protein needs should come from chicken breasts; whole eggs (and egg whites, for pure protein); lean cuts of beef; fish; turkey; and protein powder. Your carbohydrates can come from potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice (white or brown), oats, fruits, and vegetables.
As for fat, most of it will come as a by-product of your protein foods, but you can also derive fat from avocados, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and a small amount of oil such as coconut or olive.
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How much should I eat?
Get ready to start keeping track of calories and macronutrients. You don’t need to be meticulous, but you do need to be consistent.
If your goal is to gain muscle size and maximize strength, consume 14–18 calories per pound of your body weight. For fat loss, go with 10–12 calories per pound. Yes, these are ranges and not exact numbers—you’ll need to experiment a bit and find what works for you.
Start on the lower end of the spectrum for muscle gain and the higher end for fat loss, so that changes can be made gradually, and adjust if you aren’t gaining or losing weight after two weeks.
When bulking up or slimming down, your protein and fat intake should be very similar. Eat 1–1.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight and 0.4 gram of fat per pound.
Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on body weight due to their impact on insulin, a hormone that alternately causes muscle or fat gain depending on the timing and composition of your meals. For this reason, the amount of carbs you eat will vary greatly depending on your goal.
To gain size, you should consume two grams of carbs per pound of your body weight. Be prepared to gain some fat along with the muscle, as more carbs mean higher insulin levels and more potential for fat storage. To lose fat, consume one gram of carbs per pound.
What does it all mean?
If you’re a 180-pound guy who wants to put on muscle, you might start your mass-gain diet by eating approximately 2,700 calories per day. This would consist of 180 grams of protein, 360 grams of carbs, and 70 grams of fat.
If the same guy wants to trim fat, he would eat 180 grams of carbs instead of 360 to start with.
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Is there an easier way to estimate calories and grams?
Absolutely. First, just focus on the grams you need to consume—the calories will fall into place accordingly, provided you aren’t slathering your food in sauces, dressings, and other seasonings. (Learn to flavor your meals more simply; see recipes on muscleandfitness.com.)
“Four ounces of meat or fish is about 25 grams of protein,” says Nate Miyaki, C.S.S.N., a nutrition consultant in San Francisco who works with bodybuilders to prepare for contests. “That’s the size of a deck of cards.” One cup, or eight ounces, of a starch food (potatoes, rice) is about the size of a baseball, or a clenched fist, and that’s equal to 50 grams of carbs.
“One piece of fruit is about 25 grams of carbs,” says Miyaki, “unless it’s a melon.” Non-starchy vegetables, including all greens, do not need to be counted.
As we mentioned before, most of your dietary fat will come via your protein foods—a four-ounce portion of meat or fish has as many as five grams of fat—but you can eat fat-rich foods sparingly. Two tablespoons of nut butter is about the length of your thumb and totals 15–20 grams of fat, and a cup of raw nuts offers roughly 70 grams. A tablespoon of any oil is 15 grams of fat.
You may be interested to know that foods that have a high fat content aren’t limited because fat is “unhealthy” or inherently fattening. Physique-conscious eaters need only be wary of them because of the calories they pack (nine per gram as opposed to carbs and protein, which offer only four).
Because fat is so caloric, it can make you overshoot your calorie range in no time, and crowd out the other nutrients in your diet. Nevertheless, if you have trouble gaining weight, one of your strategies might be to increase your fat intake, which will add considerable calories.
As far as saturated fat goes, it’s used by the body to create testosterone, so don’t be afraid to have a lean steak or burger on a regular basis.
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What should I eat before a workout?
Let the timing of your workout determine this. If you’re training first thing in the morning, you’re welcome to have nothing but water beforehand. Black coffee is fine, too, and may actually increase the amount of fat you burn in the session.
Assuming you had dinner the night before, your body will still be flush with amino acids (components of protein) and stored carbs, so there’s no immediate need to fuel your training any further. In fact, eating carbs right before can limit the fat you burn during a session.
On the other hand, if you’re training in the afternoon or evening, you can have some protein and carbs an hour or more before the workout to power you through it; 25 grams protein and up to 50 grams carbs is fine.
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What should I eat after a workout?
A 2000 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology gave male subjects one of the following to consume after weight training: a 6% carb solution, six grams of amino acids, a combination of both, or a placebo. Those drinking the carb and amino acid shake experienced greater muscle gains than any of the other groups, which the researchers concluded was because the concoction did the most to reduce muscle protein breakdown after training.
The exact amount of protein and carbs you should eat is a subject of debate, but most nutritionists agree that consuming some is better than none.
We like a 2-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein—such as another 50 grams of carbs and 25 grams protein. A protein shake would be ideal at this time because it digests quickly, getting the nutrients to the muscles fast when they need them most to begin the recovery process.
However, whole food can work as well. If you’re short on money, Miyaki says one or two pieces of fruit provides enough carbs to stop your muscles from breaking down, and will jump-start growth. You can pair fruit with a lean serving of protein, such as white fish.
One more point to make here: By “workout” we mean weight training. You don’t need to follow any specific menu before or after a cardio session. In fact, as with weight workouts done in the morning, you’ll burn more calories from fat if you avoid eating before a cardio session.
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Can I ever cheat on my diet?
Of course. The only way you can sustain a healthy eating plan is by building some leniency into it.
“Plan to have one or two cheat meals per week,” Miyaki says. These are meals when you can eat whatever and as much as you like, but as soon as you finish, you’re done. Don’t let it go on all day.
Incorporating booze, pizza, or whatever treats you enjoy will keep you on track long-term—not loathing the process.
“Don’t give up any food you love indefinitely,” says Miyaki.
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- 8 oz. black coffee
- 3 scrambled eggs
- 2 cups unsweetened, cooked oatmeal with cinnamon
- 3 oz. grilled salmon
- Large raw salad with 2 tbsp. olive oil and vinegar
- 2 cups sweet or baked potato
- Meal-replacement shake with 50g protein, 25g carbs, 5g fat
- 25g whey protein
- 1 banana
- 6 oz. baked chicken breast
- 3 cups cooked jasmine rice or potato
- 1 cup steamed broccoli