Is there an ideal workout and diet for everyone?
Of all the doubts, this is number one.
Should I follow a low-carb diet or a flexible diet?
Maybe a paleo diet is better, no?
And as for training, which one gives 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 there is, what is this plan?
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-carb diet, the answer is simple. We are compatible with all these approaches.
All diets have strengths and weaknesses, and our job is to make a connection that leads us to understand how to measure whatever approach we choose.
Let's say we are an intermediate connecting point between the various diets.
Most people expect our response to be something extreme.
Change everything, cut back on hydrates, take a paleo approach, eliminate sugars, salt, fasting cardio, and eat only protein.
This is not our answer.
For those who have never been careful with their diet, the first steps are actually quite basic and simple.
The first job is to implement basic habits and routines in everyday life.
Some of the common and simple strategies are:
- Try to consume some protein source at most meals.
- Try to cook healthier, avoiding fried foods and betting on grilled, stewed and steamed.
- Increase your intake of vitamins and minerals by eating vegetables at most meals and fruit at least twice a day.
- Consume fats healthy enough through foods such as olive oil, avocado, dried fruits and their natural butters, etc.
- Increase water consumption between meals, trying to keep your body hydrated.
Most people don't meet at least one of the above points, so that's what we'll focus on.
Once all of the above points are secured, then we can really go into details like the amount of protein to eat, the ideal amount of calories for your goal, among many other things that we monitor in our Team monitoring.
Don't forget, first all the above premises must be fulfilled, only then the details matter.
Thus, the ideal diet should comply with the following:
- Be sustainable in the long term.
- Be monetarily sustainable.
- Respect your calorie, macro and micronutrient needs.
- Provide enough energy to support your daily physical and mental needs.
- It must ensure 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 should pay attention to this.
Also, get 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.
This ensures that you are not using a ton of processed food, in addition to focusing mainly on foods that will provide you with all the necessary micronutrients.
Here are some articles that you may find useful:
- 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 they serve as a good starting point.
How to begin?
- Choose a goal. Not just a wish, but a specific, realistic and attainable goal.
- Manipulates training frequency, volume and intensity. Bet on two of them and leave the third one out, in order to guarantee the recovery.
- Choose a focus. Hypertrophy or strength? 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 to chance.
You prefer to go more or less days to gymnasium? (Frequency)
If you have a need to work at higher intensities, choose higher loads, a greater number of sets close to failure, or both. (Intensity)
If you prefer high volume workouts, then use a hefty number of sets, reps and exercises. (Volume)
Don't forget, bet on two of them and leave the third one out.
Below are two articles that may be useful to you at this stage.
Making the plan a reality
As mentioned above, it is possible to choose a huge range of combinations between diet and training.
And now that you've chosen your personal preference, how do you make them work?
Create a routine (habits)
Surely if you're reading, you've most likely 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 much more easily than others?
I recommend that you read the book The Power of Habit written by Charles Duhigg.
A habit is made up of three components.
The sign. It is the trigger that triggers a behavior.
Example. Your alarm clock in the morning.
The routine. It's the behavior itself.
Example. When you get out of bed.
The reward. The benefit from past behavior.
Example. A few warm oatmeal porridge when you get up.
The reward is your brain's way of learning to like and need a specific behavior.
Have you ever thought about getting up faster and less lazy on the weekend than during the week?
Because the reward of waking up and having the day off is possibly more important to you than getting up for work.
If you're already exercising, all of 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 undervalued, and so many of the habits do not become permanent.
A curious observation made in the book is that our brain it does not have the ability 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 nutrition plan is (very) radical.
Remove all sweets, all salt, basically everything except broccoli, sweet potatoes, and of course the chicken.
What if I tell you that keeping some foods that bring you some sanity and pleasure can allow you to implement solid routines?
If I told you that eating chocolate can help you get more exercise, would you believe it?
But to do that, you have to think about forming your new habit.
In the signal, in the routine and only after the reward.
In general and in the long term, I consider 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.
What about the remaining 10-20%?
These will be foods that are likely to be a little 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 save 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 get off work. Today is Monday, day to go training.
- The routine. Leave 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 are talking about numbers, calories, macronutrients, servings or whatever method you follow.
For example, if your current diet is 1500 kcal a day, you know you can save 150-300 kcal to consume after training in a more pleasurable way to make this habit stronger.
It can be a delicious smoothie, pancakes, porridge or even snickers.
Remember, moderation is key.
This was just an example, using food, but there are loads of rewards you can use in this habit, or others you want to implement.
A relaxing Turkish bath after training, buy new gym clothes after 2 weeks without missing a workout or any other activity you like.
In other words, it always rewards you in some way and that way you increase the chances of achieving lasting changes.
Don't make drastic changes overnight. They don't work.
Start by choosing a nutritional approach that you like, feel comfortable with and is convenient and sustainable in the long term.
Choose a number of weekly workouts that allow you to be consistent, and also the type of workout you like best.
Finally, reward yourself so that the habit becomes lasting.
It sounds simple, but it works.
Article written by Sik Nutrition.