Any fitness goal – be it losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving endurance – depends in large part on feeding the body correctly so that it has the proper blend of nutrients for a full 24 hours each day. Dialing in your diet will go a long way to ensuring you reach your fitness goal and will eliminate “wasting” time in the gym. And, while dietary needs vary from person to person and for different fitness goals, there are key elements to proper nutrition that never change. In this article, we’ll take a look at the key nutrition elements everyone should keep in mind when planning their meals each week.

1. Eat Often

Often is a relative term. After all, bodybuilders frequently eat 6 or more (high calorie) meals per day. And we know that’s not the right meal plan for everyone. When I say “eat often,” I mean avoid going long periods of time throughout the day without giving your body nutrients. Never skip meals. And avoid eating fewer “big” meals.  

Let’s say, for example, you’re on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. You generally eat a breakfast, lunch and dinner consisting of roughly 500-750 calories for each meal. Instead of eating three meals per day, and going 4+ hours between meals, try to eat smaller meals but break up the time between meals with a healthy snack. This will ensure that you’re feeding your body steadily throughout the entire day.

2. Try to Consume Protein with Each Meal

In the world of fitness, protein is often made out to be the king of the nutrients. And, if you’re looking to build or maintain muscle mass, you might think of it that way. Consuming protein frequently throughout the day allows your body to consistently break the protein down into amino acids that allow your body to recover from strenuous exercise, build muscle and complete its natural processes throughout the day without hiccups. But protein isn’t just for muscle building! It’s also a key nutritional component for endurance athletes and those who are working to lose weight.

3. Eat Carbs, Too

I mentioned this above, but carbs deserve they’re own spot on this list. For all the talk that protein gets for being “good,” sometimes carbs are looked at as being “bad.” But that just isn’t true at all. Carbs are what give your body energy – literally it’s the fuel that allows your body to carry out all of its daily functions. Fueling your body with high quality carbs is absolutely essential to achieving any fitness goal.

But keep in mind that not all carbs are created the same. Complex carbs are the idea carbs for those with health goals in mind. Complex carbs take longer for the body to break down which allows the body to feel full for a longer period of time. To maximize your carb intake, consume them as evenly as possible with each meal throughout the day.

4. Stay Hydrated

Did you know that more than half of the human body is made up of water? So, it stands to reason that its fairly important to stay hydrated, right? The human body uses water for all kinds of processes that allow it to function properly each and every day. And dehydration, especially when prolonged, can cause all kinds of catastrophic problems for the body. In order to avoid any setbacks, it’s critical to remain hydrated and to consume 15-16 cups of water per day for men, and 11-12 cups per day for women.

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