The Six Pillars Of Successful Fitness Nutrition

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Not eating the right foods to support intense activity only holds you back. These six pillars of nutrition form the foundation for fitness success!

The golden rule of any fitness program or lifestyle is that nutrition is king. Poor recovery between workouts can usually be traced to a lack of nutritional support. Muscle fatigue during a workout is normal; waking up and feeling like your body took a beating is not.

Without a proper nutrition regimen to complement your active lifestyle, you could be wasting your efforts, seeing the slowest—or non-existent—progress, or worse, putting your entire body at risk for a bevy of dysfunction, including injuries, hormonal imbalances, and adrenal fatigue.

Consider great champions like eight-time Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman. If he neglected to adequately nourish his body after his intense training sessions day-in and day-out, I doubt he’d be able to realize his full bodybuilding potential, nevermind winning the Olympia eight times.

While you may not come close to attaining Ronnie-esque proportions, you can still realize your own body’s potential through an ideal balance of dedicated training and solid nutrition. Who better to ask for fitness nutrition advice than athletes who practice what they preach and have the results to show for it?

Cellucor athletes like WBFF fitness pro Jen Jewell, Karina Baymiller, IFBB physique competitor Craig Capurso, and strongman competitor Colton Leonard live the fit lifestyle every day. Here, they present the six pillars of nutritional success.

You’re eating chicken and broccoli for dinner again? Carving adipose fat from your body should not be a constant drudgery of eating the same ol’ things. You can still achieve your dream body by adhering to a nutrient-dense eating plan 90 percent of the time and giving yourself the occasional treat. Fitness pro Jen Jewell agrees.

“I don’t always turn down invitations to eat at a restaurant, and, no, I don’t bring my pre-packed meals in Tupperware. I enjoy healthy, balanced meals 80-90 percent of the time with the remaining 10-20 percent consisting of a few of my favorites, like the occasional brownie or Mexican food.

“Knowing that I can enjoy these types of foods when I want them helps me stay focused, on track, and balanced on a day-to-day basis. No longer do cheat meals turn into cheat days or cheat weeks as they did in years past when I had been too restrictive. This has ultimately led to me achieving even better results year-round.”

Being too restrictive, even when dialing down to single-digit body fat levels, can take a huge toll on your metabolism—sometimes permanently. Restriction deprives us of adequate nourishment and makes life plain miserable, which may undermine your efforts to achieve an ideal weight or your desired vitality.

Fitness model Karina Baymiller has pretty much perfected her dietary balance: “I was so obsessive about fat, carbohydrates, calories, sodium, sugar, and preservatives that I could count the number of foods I would allow myself to eat on one hand,” says the former cheerleader, who also holds a B.S. in Kinesiology. “”Somewhere between these two extremes, I’ve found a sweet spot, a middle ground that combines the best of both worlds. It’s something maintainable. It ensures both my physical and mental health are prioritized and it allows me to have my cake and eat it too—literally. This is what I like to call ‘balance,’ and it’s the foundation of my nutritional approach.”

For Jen and Karina, anywhere between 70-90 percent of daily calories come from nutrient-dense sources, and the remainder consists of typical “off-limits” fare. Karina says, “My diet includes things like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and nut butters, and seeds. The foods I consume the other 20-30 percent of the time are things I crave or just regularly want.”

Pro strongman competitor Colton Leonard, one of many strength athletes who ingests maximal calories for maximum performance, also thinks balance is key: “It’s all about balance. I do not recommend going long periods of time on low or extremely high carb diets. After long spurts of employing low carb days, athletes may find that they have a hard time maintaining muscle and they may also notice reduced performance. Low carb diets have their place, but try to limit these periods to spurts of 1-3 days max followed by higher, normal carb days.”

Whatever the perfect mix is for you, make sure you keep a balance of nutritious foods that fuel both your body and mind.

Be real with yourself. Know your body’s limitations. Knowing when to say no and when to let loose are finely honed dietary skills that develop from knowing yourself. A dietary regimen that is hard to maintain or creates undue pressure isn’t realistic for the long haul.

For long-term success, your nutritional strategy must be tailored to your realistic needs.

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