by M. Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
1. Consider eliminating grain-based foods from your diet, and focus more on fruits and vegetables for your carbohydrate sources. Despite the fact that most so-called "health professionals" tell you to eat 6-9 servings of "whole grains" daily, they may be inadvertently leading you down the wrong path, and causing digestion problems, reduced energy, and even weight gain.
The truth is that the human digestive system has developed over almost 100,000 years to process a "hunter gatherer" type of diet most efficiently -- this means fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, and meat (from healthy animals, a far cry from today's factory farmed animals).
Grains, on the other hand, were not introduced to the human diet until more recent times with the invention of agriculture (only a couple thousand years ago), and therefore, our digestive systems are still not designed optimally for grain foods. It's no surprise that it's estimated that the majority of the world's population has at least some degree of problem digesting gluten, a protein which is common to most grains (wheat being the biggest problem for most people).
My advice -- test out giving up grain foods for 1-2 weeks and see if you have more energy, feel better overall, and start losing weight. I have another article here that talks about 2 foods worth doing a test for eliminating from your diet, and see if you notice improvements in energy and health.
2. When it comes to eating meat, you MUST choose organic and grass-fed (or free range). Grass-fed meats (such as grass fed bison or beef) have as much as 2-5 times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than do conventional grain-fed meats. CLA is a natural healthy fat that can help to reduce cancer risks as well as help to burn off body fat and build muscle (according to some studies).
Also, grass-fed meats contain a healthier, more balanced profile of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, which helps to reduce inflammation in your body. On the other hand, typical commerical grain-fed meats contain fat profiles that are far out of whack and way too high on the omega-6 fatty acids, and too low on the healthy omega-3's.
My advice -- forget about conventional meats and stick to only grass-fed or free range on the labels. It may cost slightly more, but isn't your body and health worth it? The same goes for wild fish vs farmed fish... Farmed fish are never fed a healthy diet, and are instead fattened up with grain-based meal pellets, which are not the natural diet of fish. Wild fish that ate their natural diet will have much healthier ratios of omega-6 fats to omega-3s. Also beware of this issue with toxic fish that you can get at grocery stores.
3. For exercise, most people think that cardio exercise is the best way to lose fat. What most people don't realize is that high intensity weight training (when done in a specific fashion) increases your metabolic rate to a higher degree than typical "same-pace" cardio exercise routines. Not only that, but weight training done at high intensity has also been shown to have powerful effects on your body with reducing blood pressure and increasing your body's efficiency at processing blood sugar.
If you're not already making high intensity resistance training (weight training) the foundation of your exercise routines, start putting more focus on this, and less focus on the boring cardio exercise routines.
4. You MUST ENJOY your workouts if you are ever going to be consistent with them for long term results. Although sports are great (and the type of exercise that most people consider fun), and I highly recommend getting involved in sports to keep yourself in great shape, you also still need to incorporate weight training (or some form of resistance training) into your regular routines for many reasons.
The bottom line is... you need resistance training to keep maximum bone density as well as to keep your metabolism as high as possible. Most sports typically won't give you the same benefit as the best basic full body weight training exercises. If you want a lean strong body for life, resistance training on a regular basis is a must!
5. Diet Pills are a TOTAL WASTE of your money!
Although you may have been duped in the past with flashy ads showing fitness models with perfect bodies, I guarantee you that they did NOT get their perfect bodies from taking any ridiculous diet pills (or so-called fat-burner pills)... they achieved their high levels of fitness and sexy lean bodies through dedicated exercise routines and smart healthy nutrition... after all, their career revolves around eating extremely healthy and working out hard on a regular basis!
Think you're too busy to squeeze workouts into your schedule?
Click here for some super time-efficient workouts you can do at home with nothing but bodyweight exercises or dumbbells.