20 Tips for the Best Diet and Exercise PlanLast Updated: February 1, 2019
A successful fitness regime is not just about heavy lifting and pounding miles on the road. It’s a blend of positive psychology, planning and lifestyle adjustment. These 20 pointers will help you to devise a lasting healthy eating and fitness plan.
IF YOU’RE a fitness ‘newbie’—and if so, congratulations!—it’s important to remember, when shooting for a sustainable healthy eating and exercise plan that the success of your new outlook depends on the quality of what you put into it as much as the quantity: that is what is at the heart of the best diet and exercise plan.
A successful fitness regime is built on a healthy eating and exercise plan that blends positive psychology, smart planning and lifestyle adjustments. It’s not just about burning up in the gym. You have to eat smart, train efficiently, and watch every forkful of your diet, if you want to have the best diet and exercise plan.
Devising the Best Diet and Exercise Plan
Efficiency is the key word here. It’s not about slashing entire food groups. It’s about achieving balance across the board, in a holistic approach that will achieve general wellness equilibrium.
Here are my 20 tips to help ensure you have the best diet and exercise plan: by devising a healthy eating and exercise plan of solid foundations, that is built to last.
1. Set a Goal
If you want to get fit, that’s your goal, but it’s a little general. Try narrowing this down to a specific objective. Write that down and make it your mission. It’s important to have a target that you consciously work towards. It also helps to meditate and find some time to actually visualise what you want to feel like when you reach this target.
Perhaps most importantly, know yourself, and work towards a goal that is realistic and achievable. Maxing out all the time in the gym will only compromise your body’s ability to recover, so work up to but not beyond your limits.
2. Draw Up A Meal Plan
This is essential, whether you’re cutting or bulking, and particularly if you’re getting serious about fitness for the first time. Your food diary will help you eat regularly and consistently, and—the most important part—without skipping meals.
For example, eating fewer but larger meals has been proven to tackle hunger more effectively than eating a greater number of small-portion meals. Aim for around 3-4 meals and 1-2 protein shakes every day.
The meal plan will enable you to closely monitor such food intake, make adjustments to meals, and minimise or eliminate any habits—snacking, for example—that are slowing you down. Snacking is a major enemy of fitness because it’s unplanned. The goal of a meal plan is to establish consistent, regular behaviour. Anything that’s not part of the plan shouldn’t be engaged in.
3. Get to Know Food Labels
Food labels are the consumer’s best friend. They’re not just about the weight and the best-before date. They contain a wealth of other information, including ingredients, nutritional information, guideline daily amounts, and more.
Under ingredients, watch out for items in which sugar is listed high—ingredients are listed in order of descending weight. Also, be vigilant for descriptions. Sugar can be described as glucose, syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, molasses, for example, while fat also goes many a variety of names including butter, vegetable oil, cream, trans fats, etc.
4. Get a Training Buddy
WHEN you’re on a conscious mission to fitness and wellbeing, it makes sense to seek out people who have already completed the same mission. As well as providing specific advice and tips on techniques, they will also be able to steer you around the pitfalls and frustrations that can often threaten to derail you in the early stages.
If it’s not possible to find a good training buddy, it can be just as useful to align yourself with someone who is on the same mission as yourself. When the spirits start to flag, it aids motivation to know that there are others in the same boat as you!
5. Focus on the Game Plan
Weight loss can be terribly frustrating, as you have no control over the rate at which it works. For that reason it’s ill advised to obsess over short-term weekly objectives and stick to the holistic overall objective of your medium- to long-term weight-loss goal. That way, your mind and outlook will benefit as much as your body. Stick to the plan, be organised, efficient, eat smart and you will ultimately hit your target.
6. Eat More Protein
Protein is the probably the key macronutrient for training. When you’re reducing your caloric intake, protein makes you feel fuller and helps to retain muscle mass. It’s also a potent energy catalyst for hard training.
Recommended intake is at least 30g every four hours depending on your weight and goals. At the weight-cutting stage, try to have spinach, kale, broccoli or asparagus with every meal. Other protein-rich sources include corn, asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. During training, it’s recommended that protein should account for 30 percent of your daily calories.
7. Think ‘Volume’ at Mealtimes
High protein vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and cabbage are also dense in nutrients but not calories. Other high-volume foods include egg whites. The effect of all these foods is to make your body feel full, and keep the hunger pangs at bay.
8. Think ‘Moderation’ on Food Vices
While it’s advisable to check your kitchen cupboards aren’t home to tempting stores of snacks, a moderate approach is advised with regard to food groups. Simply dividing everything into a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ group will do you no good in the long term. In fact, it could lead to binging. So try to enjoy foods that you like in moderation, within a strictly monitored diet.
For instance, a good workout shake is great for pre- and post-workout nutrition, even though shakes contain a small amount of sugar. But by eliminating them because of their sugar content, you’re also cutting out the carbs, protein and BCAAs that give you the energy to train harder and the resilience to recover.
9. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Fats
Going ‘low-fat’ probably seems most sensible devising the best diet and exercise plan. But in fact, fats are a store of energy, both conveying vitamins and nutrients around the body and absorbing them into it. Again, be conscious of food labels and look for foods that have fatty acids, which are beneficial to the blood and brain. Do be conscious of moderation and try to achieve a balance between saturated and unsaturated fats.
10. Fluids: Water and Green Tea
Not only is drinking cold water refreshing, it’s vital for keeping hydrated. Dehydration is a significant barrier to really effective training, because it makes you so tired, physically and mentally, and can sap your motivation. Take water regularly to keep your body cooled and hydrated.
Would you allow the radiator in your car to run dry? No, right? So don’t do it to your body; especially when you have health and fitness targets to hit. Another fluid recommendation for dieting is to drink green tea. It has no calories, but its blend of antioxidants and caffeine helps to accelerate weight loss.
11. Be Supplement-Literate
On any diet and fitness programme, it’s important to know how to supplement your body with the good things that are present in the high-calorie food groups you are cutting. If carbohydrates are low, taking Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) is recommended. BCAAs make up just over a third of muscle mass, trigger synthesis of protein, and help to retain muscle. Drinking them during a cardio session helps to burn calories.
Fish Oil and omega 3 supplements decrease the resting heart rate, so in a cardio session you’ll have to work harder to elevate it. Higher work-rate equates to more calories burnt.
Creatine should be part of any supplement program (dropping it does not reduce water weight), while the amino acid L-theanine helps to soothe and calm any jitters you may be feeling from reduced calories and regular training.
12. Take Micronutrients
While supplements are vital, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your overall health. Dramatically burning calories runs the risk of reducing vitamin and mineral levels below optimum levels. For this reason, use multivitamins, or supplement your meals with whole-food extracts.
13. Increase All Physical Activity
Treat your fitness regime with respect. The best diet and exercise plan is devised by making a change for life, not just for several hours a week. So, use your car less, and walk walk. If you drive to work or your local shop, park farther away from the door. If you have an elevator in work, skip it and use the stairs. There are practical and measurable benefits here as well. Any physical activity will burn additional calories, taking you vital steps along the way to achieving your goals.
14. Take a Pre-Workout Caffeine Boost
Caffeine prior to a workout gives you a potent energy boost. It will certainly help you through any sluggishness you may feel as a result of your low calorie diet. It will help you to soldier through, the energy boost assisting the body to burn off body fat.
15. Balance High and Low-Intensity Exercise
High-intensity training should be complemented by a progressively increased element of low-intensity cardio work, to improve respiration, strengthen heart muscle, improve blood pressure and circulation, reduce stress and increase cognitive capacity. Interval sprinting is another a great idea, as it burns a larger number of calories in a shorter period of time.
16. Keep ‘Rest’ Periods Brief
To burn pounds, the main objective in the gym is to keep the heart-rate in the targeted zone, enabling a consistent calorie-burn rate. For this reason, limit rest times between sets of reps. Remember: it’s not about how heavy you can lift!
17. Challenge Yourself
Training is not all about heavy lifting, as we observed in this introduction to the best diet and exercise plan… however, it’s definitely advisable to challenge the body regularly with low-rep (3-6), heavy lifting, so that all muscle fibres in the body are stimulated.
18. Steady as She Goes!
Steady, consistent tempo is advised in weight training, and deep breathing from the diaphragm. This particularly benefits elite athletes whose intense training can lead to oxidative stress: the state whereby due to depleted antioxidants, free radicals overwhelm the cells, increasing the risk of serious illness. Deep breathing, with emphatic exhalation, helps to tackle this, and also aids in recovery.
19. Get Some Post-Workout Starch!
After a workout, the body is depleted of glucose and glycogen. So don’t eliminate starch-rich high-glycemic foods from your diet; keep them for your post-workout periods. Fresh fruit, cereals and bread are important foods to help recovery and replenish energy stores.
20. Get Quality Rest
If you want the best diet and exercise plan, you must complement it with quality sleep. Seven to nine hours of sleep every night aids recovery, and gives the body’s natural fat-burning hormones ample time to go to work. Taking a ZMA supplement (containing Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and Vitamin B6) helps recovery, and has been shown to help the body achieve deeper levels of the most beneficial REM sleep.