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The importance of a Balanced Diet

Knowing that an athletic body depends more than 60% on a good nutrition, this is the reason why I choose to include this article in my Blog.

You may probably have heard phrases like: “You are what you eat” or “Eat to win”, I am convinced of that.

Nutrition is priority number one - a six pack is made in the kitchen, after all!

Eating healthy is not as complicated as many believe. If you want to see your muscles, you must get rid of that fat that hidden them. If you train hard but you do not fuel and hydrate your body at the right time with adequate food, your six-pack and your muscles will remain largely hidden, or you simply won't have the adequate energy to train properly.

You can try all kinds of Diets but there is no absolute truth: diets don´t work forever! They can be useful for a while but it usually fail because they are just too difficult, restrictive to follow or leave you as if you’d not eaten anything.

If your purpose is to reduce your body fat, to increase your muscle mass or maintain your weight and current status, the idea is that you have to have your adequate food.

In fact regardless of your weight (unless you don’t know that you have an hormonal problem, diabetes, thyroid or other ailments) you know perfectly well what meals are appropriate for you and what not.

The ideal food contains ideal nutrients like: lean proteins, vegetable proteins, complex carbohydrate for replacement of energy and glycogen, moderate amounts of fat in the diet, besides vegetables for the fiber.

You must eat a good breakfast (it is the basis of your day), a good lunch, a good dinner and some snacks (within hours). With a smart combination of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fiber your metabolism will speed up and you will burn more calories even without awareness.

Here are some simple tips you must consider to lose fat and strengthen your muscles:​

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the primary source of the body's energy as they decompose quickly, usually in less than 2 hours. Healthy carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates that are made of sugar molecules ranging together in complex long chains. Both complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body and are used as energy. The glucose is used in the cells of the body and the brain and which is not used is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for later use. Foods containing complex carbohydrates provide vitamins and minerals that are important for the person’s health.. Most carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates (starches) and natural sugars instead of processed and refined sugars. The main sources of complex carbohydrates are:

  1. Pasta, rice and bread from whole grain

  2. Starchy vegetables: potatoes, beans, peas

  3. Fiber-rich foods: whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa non-sweetened

  4. Fruits: grapefruit, prunes, apples, pears, strawberries, tomatoes

  5. Nuts, seeds and legumes

  6. Among the most recommended carbohydrate-rich foods for after training, we have pasta, tubers, rice and vegetables.

Proteíns: Proteins are the cornerstone of the creation of muscle and cell function and are extremely important in a diet to burn fat. A deficit in protein ends up causing a breakdown of muscle tissue.

Proteins not only help your body to build muscle mass, they also play an important role in fat loss and to optimize your physical performance.

In addition to helping preserve muscle mass, which is easily lost when you decrease the consumption of calories, proteins also help control appetite, which makes you easier to follow a diet. Proteins are molecules formed by amino acid chains.

By eating a protein, the body breaks down it and restructures in new proteins as required by our body. Among the 22 amino acids that we require, 8 are considered essential. These are not produced by our body, therefore we need to supply it on the basis of our food. The golden rule says you should consume 1,3 to 1,8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day, divided into 4 to 5 meals a day.

A varied and balanced diet should provide both animal and vegetable proteins. A high protein diet keeps you satisfied longer and your abs flat, while too many carbohydrates can inflate you. The main sources of protein are:

  • Animal Protein: They have a high biological value containing the essential amino acids that our body cannot produce.

  1. Eggs (whites and yolk)

  2. Lean meat of: beef, pork, lamb, baby goat, rabbit

  3. Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck

  4. Fresh Fish: tuna, salmon, herring, wild trout, cod, sole, hake, mackerel, red snapper

  5. Canned or preserved fish: tuna in oil or water, herring in oil or smoked, sardines, anchovies, caviar, smoked salmon, dried codfish

  6. Seafood: shrimp, prawns, lobster, scallops, squid, octopus, mussels, clams, oysters, cockles, snails, crab, spider crab

  7. Low fat dairy: milk, cheese (parmesan, provolone cheese, emmental, roquefort, panela cheese, manchego cheese, gruyere cheese, chihuahua, goat cheese among others), yogurt

  8. Lunch or Deli meat and sausages of pork or beef (lean): serrano ham, prosciutto, bondiola or pork loin, smoked pork loin, palette, ham, leg, baked, cook or smoked ham, mortadella. bacon, sausages, black pudding or morcilla, longaniza, chorizo (but we must pay attention to the contents of sodium and fat)

  9. Turkey deli meats: ham and turkey breast

  • Vegetables Proteín: They allow you to get quality protein, with less saturated fat and less cholesterol than foods of animal origin and you can combine them with animal protein:

  1. Legumes: beans, peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas

  2. Cereals: products of soy, quinoa, amaranth, oats, corn, semolina, wheat, barley, rye, rice

  3. Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, artichoke, spinach, peas, asparagus, pumpkins, potato, sweet potato, palm hearts, mushrooms, celery, leek

  4. Seeds: sesame, sunflower, pumpkin

  5. Dried fruits: peanuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, chestnuts, prunes, dry dates, dried figs, walnuts, pine nuts, raisins

  6. Seaweed and Spirulina

  • Protein Supplements: Protein supplements are protein and nutrition sources based on amino acids, and food products, that are utilized to assist athletes, bodybuilders, dieters or hardgainers to meet the desired daily protein intake ,requirements. Protein Supplements are useful for targeted training to develop muscle mass, to repair muscle, to increase energy, to speed up the metabolism and to help the fat burning process. Protein supplements can be consumed in the form of capsules or powder that can be based on: whey, soy, casein, egg, meat, hemp and options for vegans.​

Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are those that belong to the group of so-called unsaturated fats. This type of fat is fat in its purest form, which means that they have not been processed previously by any other body or industrial process, form that are available so that our body can transform them and use them according to your needs. You must give your body good fats to feel satisfied but you must consume them with measure. Healthy fats are found in:

  1. Extra virgin olive oil and olives

  2. Blue fish (of deep and cold waters): salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, sea trout, anchovy, mackerel, cod liver

  3. White meat: chicken, turkey, rabbit

  4. Meat of animal raised on pasture

  5. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, peanuts, pine nuts (all of these in small portions and unsalted)

  6. Avocado

  7. Seeds of: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, hemp, flax

  8. Cocoa and chocolate (with the least amount of sugar, sweet and milka added)

  9. Coconut

  10. Eggs

  11. Vegetables

  12. Dairy

  13. Butter​

Fiber: Fiber form an essential part of a balanced nutrition, it keeps you stable and helps to better assimilate the fat you want. Depending on their solubility in water, there are two types of fibers:

  1. Soluble fibers: This type of fiber predominates in legumes, cereals, some vegetables (broccoli, carrots), some fruits (figs, plums, prunes, berries, ripe bananas, and the skin of apples, quinces and pears),seeds and nuts (almonds)

  2. Insoluble fibers: This type of fiber predominates in vegetables ( green beans, tomato, cauliflower, zucchini, celery, nopal, the skin of fruits (grapes, kiwifruit), potato skin and in all cereals.

The recommended intake of fiber is 30-35 grams per day.

Fruits: Include fruits in your sport diet.These give you vitamins and essential minerals to obtain good results in training: bananas (one of the key fruits), apple, strawberries, berries, watermelon, melon, papaya, grapes, pear and citrus fruits (grapefruits mainly).

Minerals & Vitamins: Proteins and carbohydrates are not all you need for high performance. Minerals and vitamins are needed to synthesize proteins, for muscle contraction and the transportation of oxygen. You will find minerals and vitamins in the following foods: milk, cheese, meat, vegetables, cereals, vegetables, legumes, fruits and sea food.​

Foods to speed up your metabolism and help you burn fat:

  1. Greek yogurt or Natural yogurt

  2. Whole grain cereals: oats, brown rice, musli (whole grain cereal mix), wheat, buckwheat, maize, barley, amaranth, bran, fiber one

  3. Infusions: Green tea, coffee

  4. Fruits: watermelon, melon, pears, apples, kiwi, plum, pomegranate, peach, banana, papaya, pineapple, peach, natural grapes and raisins

  5. Citrus: grapefruit, lemon

  6. Fresh Berries: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants and strawberries

  7. Seeds: chia, pumpkins, sunflower, flax

  8. Legumes: all kind of beans, lentils, chickpeas

  9. Green leafy raw vegetables: lettuce, watercress, spinach, arugula, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, chicory

  10. Vegetables: carrots, celery, turnip, radish, leek, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant, beets, pumpkin, zucchini, artichokes, peppers, mushrooms, onion, chives, shallot, garlic, nopales, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, basil, avocado

  11. Sprouts of: alfalfa, radish, oats, watercress, chickpeas, lentils, peas, sunflower, pumpkin, soy, wheat grass

  12. Spirulina and seaweed

  13. Spices: cayenne pepper, mustard, cumin, turmeric, cloves, allspice, curry in powder, red pepper, ginger, paprika

  14. Chili peppers (in moderate portions)

  15. Eggs (2 daily at breakfast)

  16. Home made soups: beans, rice, chicken, vegetables, noodles (whole grains), oatmeal

  17. Chicken breast

  18. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, peanuts (in small portions) without salt or sugar

  19. Cheeses (ricotta and cottage) (avoid it light)

  20. Lean meat of: beef, pork, chicken, turkey

  21. Fish: salmon and tuna (fresh and canned in water)

  22. Seafood

  23. Peanut butter

  24. Extra virgin olive oil

  25. Coconut oil

  26. Apple cider vinegar, Apple vinegar

  27. Boiled potatoes

  28. Whey protein or soy protein

  29. Natural oatmels (with no sugar)

  30. Yogurt based smoothies prepared at home

  31. Cold water

  32. Coconut water

  33. Lemonade

  34. Chia water

  35. Natural fruit juices

  36. Natural vegetable juices

  37. Kéfir ​

Foods that you should avoid for a healthy diet:

  1. White flour

  2. Refined sugar

  3. Baked goods even those done with whole wheat flour (muffins, bagels,donuts, cupcakes)

  4. Desserts

  5. Cakes

  6. Sodas

  7. All kind od sweeteners

  8. Syrup and jam

  9. Seets, Treats and Candies

  10. Cookies

  11. Hidrogenated or partially hidrogenated oils

  12. Processed food

  13. Fast Food (Hamburgers, Fried Chicken, Pizza, Tacos)

  14. Fried Food

  15. Salty snacks (salty sticks, chips, doritos, nachos, cheetos, pretzels)

  16. Refined and Sugary cereals

  17. White Chocolate

  18. Microwave Popcorn

  19. Margarine

  20. Canned soup

  21. Ice Cream

  22. Alcohol

  23. Processed meats

  24. Salad dressings (mainly creamy and cheesy)

  25. Dips

  26. Soy Sauce

  27. Condiments (mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce)

  28. Flavored Yogurt, Whole milk, skim milk , low in fat, flavored or sweetened

  29. Canned Fruit Juices

  30. Commercial Smoothies

  31. Snack and granola bars. Look for those with short ingredient list and minimal sugar

  32. Lunch meat with high sodium and fats (salami, peperoni, mortadela, cooked ham)

  33. Dried Fruits with sugary ingredients

  34. Trail mix and nuts with sugary or salty ingredients

  35. Sport drinks

  36. Commercial Sushi with fried food, mayonnaise or cream cheese

  37. Farm fish

Water: Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. As you know our body accounts for more than 60% of our total body weight and even mild dehydration can tire you out, weaken your muscles and kill your concentration. The more you sweat, the more you need to drink. Drink 2 to 3 liters oa water a day. Water helps your joints and is one of our main allies in the quest to lose weight. One tip: drink cold water. The body needs to heat it, which requires more energy, accelerates your metabolism and make you burn more calories. Finally: If you can't avoid it let the sodas for your free day.

Free Day: Once a week, break all your rules of food. It is your day off. It is important that you do it without guilt. Restrict yourself six days a week and rest the seventh. It is very likely that the next day after breaking rules you do not feel very hungry and you do not like junk food. The calculation is simple;your weekend extra loading in your body is what you should remove with a combination of Cardio and eating smart through the week.

  • Nutritionists tell us that the simple and constant is what allows us to control our body weight throughout our lives. If you have doubts, I strongly recommend that you consult a nutritionist who prepares an eating plan appropriate to your goal.

  • In my case, I have eaten the same type of food throughout my life: European and Argentine food.

  • I also keep a constant record of my weight through a scale that monitors body composition: body fat percentage, body water percentage, muscle mass, visceral fat level, caloric intake, metabolic age and bone mass. My goal is to be at 8% body fat.

Supplements: These can be excellent contributions to your body, which supplement the gaps in your diet: multivitamins, sports nutrition, protein, minerals, herbal, preventive, to relieve or help you in your diet and your health, but in no way replace it.

You should consume them smart and responsibly (always consult your doctor) and they can help you make a difference.

If you are looking to optimize your athletic level or build your muscle mass you can use protein supplements that allow you to supplement a good diet and provide you with nutrients to increase your strength, your stamina, duration and support you in the process of fat burning but in any case you should not do it constantly but for limited periods since excess protein can bring negative consequences. Always opt for products of well-known brands in well-known shops.

I consume protein supplements such as Whey Protein Powder, essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), Beta Alanine, PreWorkout Powder with Creatine to provide energy to the muscles; to nourish muscle fibers; Multivitamin supplements with minerals to nourish the functions of the body and Omega 3, 6 and 9.

Finally: Stay away from steroids and other stimulants, they are definitely harmful and once again: The key is in you!

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