Is there an ideal workout and diet for each person?
Of all the doubts, this is number one.
Should I follow a low-carbohydrate diet or a flexible diet?
Maybe a paleo diet is better, isn’t it?
And as for training, which one gives you the most results? How many times a week should I do it?
These are just a few of the many examples, but is there really a perfect plan?
And if so, what plan is that?
Let’s start by addressing the diet.
The ideal diet
When asked at Sik Nutrition if our protocol is compatible with a paleo, vegetarian or low-carbohydrate diet, the answer is simple. We are compatible with all of these approaches.
All diets have strengths and weaknesses, and our job is to establish a connection that will lead us to understand how to measure whatever approach is chosen.
Let’s say that we are an intermediate link between the various diets.
Most people expect our response to be extreme.
Change everything, cut out the carbohydrates, take a paleo approach, eliminate sugars, salt, do fasting cardio and eat only protein.
This is not our answer.
For those who have never taken care of their diet, the first steps are actually quite basic and simple.
The first job is to implement basic habits and routines on a daily basis.
Some of the common and simple strategies are:
- Try to consume some source of protein in most meals.
- Try to cook in a healthier way, avoiding fried foods and betting on grilled, stewed and steamed dishes.
- Increase the consumption of vitamins and minerals, by eating vegetables at most meals, and fruit at least twice a day.
- Consume sufficient healthy fats through foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and their natural butters, etc.
- Increase water consumption between meals, trying to keep your body hydrated.
Most people do not fulfill at least one of the above points, so it will be those that we will focus on.
Once all of the above points are guaranteed, then we can really go into details such as the amount of protein to be ingested, the amount of calories ideal for your goal, among many other things that we monitor in our Team monitoring.
Don’t forget, first all the previous premises must be fulfilled, only after the details matter.
Thus, the ideal diet should comply with the following:
- Be sustainable in the long run.
- Be monetarily sustainable.
- Respect your calorie, macro and micronutrient needs.
- Provide enough energy to support your daily physical and mental needs.
- It must guarantee a healthy body composition (ideal weight and body fat).
- Respect personal preference and palate.
- Be compatible with your beliefs and ideologies.
- Include only necessary restrictions (not unfounded beliefs).
- Make you happy.
It is essential to reach enough calories for your goal and you must pay attention to that.
In addition, eat enough fiber. For every 1000 kcal you should use about 10g to 15g of fiber.
Finally, try to consume most of your food in an unprocessed way.
So you guarantee that you are not using a ton of processed food, in addition to focusing mainly on the foods that will provide you with all the necessary micronutrients.
Here are some articles that may be useful to you:
- How many calories to use to gain muscle mass?
- How many calories to eat to lose weight.
- How to diet without going broke.
- How much protein do I need per day?
After the diet, it’s time to start training.
The guides are general, and applied globally, but serve as a good starting point.
How to begin?
- Choose a goal. Not just a wish, but a specific, realistic and achievable goal.
- Manipulate training frequency, volume and intensity. Bet on two of them and leave the third out, in order to guarantee recovery.
- Choose a focus. Hypertrophy or strength? In this way we will be able to use each one of them in different training blocks, and enhance it.
- Exercises. Regarding the choice of exercises, choose them according to the objectives. Everything must have a purpose.
The second point is extremely important, but often left to the background or at random.
Do you prefer to go to the gym more or less days? (Frequency)
If you have a need to work with higher intensities, choose larger loads, a larger number of series close to the fault, or both. (Intensity)
If you prefer high volume training, then use a large number of sets, repetitions and exercises. (Volume)
Don’t forget, bet on two of them and leave the third out.
Below are two articles that can be useful at this stage.
Making the plan a reality
As we discussed above, it is possible to choose from a huge range of combinations between diet and training.
And now, that you have chosen your personal preference, how to make them work?
Create a routine (habits)
Certainly if you are reading, you have probably tried to implement the perfect plan in the past.
But, why does it always seem so difficult to make it work?
And why are there people who do it so much more easily than others?
I recommend that you read the book The Power of Habit written by Charles Duhigg.
A habit consists of three components.
The sign. It is the trigger that triggers behavior.
Example. Your morning alarm clock.
The routine. It is the behavior itself.
Example. When you get out of bed.
The reward. The benefit from previous behavior.
Example. A few warm porridge when you get up.
The reward is the way your brain learns to like and need specific behavior.
Have you thought about most times that you get up faster and less lazily at the weekend than during the week?
Because the reward of waking up and having a day off is possibly more important to you than getting up to go to work.
If you already exercise all of this this has already been part of your day even if you don’t realize it.
You know what the signal is, you know what your routine will be, but the reward part is often devalued, and so many of the habits do not become permanent.
A curious observation made in the book is that our brain does not have the capacity to differentiate between a good and a bad habit.
Reward yourself more and create the ideal plan
Usually the first step for someone who decides to implement a training and nutritional plan is (very) radical.
Remove all sweets, all salt, basically everything except broccoli, sweet potatoes, and of course, chicken.
What if I tell you that keeping some foods that bring some sanity and pleasure can allow you to implement solid routines?
If I tell you that eating chocolate can help you get more exercise, would you believe it?
But to do so, you have to think about the formation of your new habit.
In the signal, in the routine and only afterwards the reward.
In general and in the long term, I think that the rewards for training and diet should not be related to food, however, in the short term it can be a good technique to implement the plan.
If you are just starting out and already know the choices that will be the basis of your diet, you know that 80-90% of your foods are defined.
And the remaining 10-20%?
These will be foods that are likely to be slightly less healthy than the rest, but that can be used as a reward.
Imagine that you decide to train four times a week, and on those days you keep those 10-20% of your daily availability to be spent in a pleasant way in your post training.
In practice it would be something like this:
- The sign. It’s 6 pm and it’s time to leave work. Today is Monday, the day to go training.
- The routine. Get out of work, go to the gym and train.
- The reward. Get home and have that special meal waiting.
When we talk about these 10-20% we talk about numbers, calories, macronutrients, portions or any other method you follow.
For example, if your current diet has 1500 kcal daily, you know that you can save 150-300 kcal to consume after training in a more pleasant way to make this habit stronger.
It can be a delicious smoothie, some pancakes, some porridge or even a snickers.
Remember, moderation is the key.
This was just an example, using food, but there are lots of rewards that you can use in this habit, or in others that you want to implement.
A relaxing hammam after training, buy new clothes for the gym after 2 weeks without missing a workout or any other activity you like.
That is, always reward yourself in some way and thus increase the chances of achieving lasting changes.
Do not make drastic changes overnight. They don’t work.
Start by choosing a nutritional approach that you like, feel comfortable and be comfortable and sustainable in the long run.
Choose a number of weekly workouts that will allow you to be consistent, as well as the type of training that you like best.
Finally, reward yourself so that the habit becomes long lasting.
It sounds simple, but it works.
Article written by Sik Nutrition.