Are you an elite competitor training for the next bodybuilding event?
Are you a fitness novice struggling to adopt a stable exercise routine?
Are you some place in the middle maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle, while always in search of ways to increase your stamina, muscle mass, and improve diet?
According to Jim Stoppani, Ph.D, people of all fitness levels and abilities can apply these 10 fundamental fitness truths to their exercise routines, eating habits, and life. These fitness principles might be old news to the elite athlete and fitness enthusiast, however they will maintain their validity from today to the years still to come.
Rule 1: Be Positive
- Maintain a positive mindset
- Avoid negative thoughts (from yourself or others) disrupting your fitness goals, career path, and life.
- Push yourself, but be aware of your body’s limits.
Rule 2: Prioritize Protein
- Regardless of your fitness goals (fat loss or increased muscle mass), consume protein at every meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. This macronutrient will aid in muscle recovery and provide increased strength, while maintaining satiety.
- It’s simple: add a tablespoon of nut butter to an apple at breakfast; add chicken, steak, fish, or tofu to a salad or pasta dish at lunch or dinner; and, stash a protein RTD (ready-to-drink product), beef jerky, low-fat string cheese, or a small bag of nuts and seeds at your desk for a couple snacks throughout the day.
Rule 3: Change is Good
- Mix up your work out routine, performing a variety of exercises for each muscle group.
- Cross-train, diversifying your exercise regime to avoid a plateau in your fitness level.
- Try decreasing the repetition range and increasing the weight each week during a four-week period:
Week 1 – Perform 12-15 repetitions of each exercise
Week 2 – Perform 9-11 repetitions of each exercise
Week 3 – Perform 6-8 repetitions of each exercise
Week 4 – Perform 3-5 repetitions of each exercise
Rule 4: HIIT It!
- Research indicates that high-intensity-interval-training exceeds slow and steady cardiovascular activity for fat loss, athletic performance, and heart health.
- Apply a 2:1 ratio of exercise to rest.
- Try performing 30-second intervals of high-intensity exercise alternating with 15-second intervals of rest. Or, 1-minute intervals of high-intensity exercise alternating with 30-second intervals of rest.
Rule 5: Recover with Sweets
- Despite the current sugar controversy, it is beneficial to consume sugar in moderation post-workout.
- When you exercise your body depletes its glycogen stores (storage form of carbohydrates). The most effective way to replenish your body’s glycogen stores is to eat high-glycemic sugars, such as fat-free gummy bears or jelly beans.
- Try to consume 20-30 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates from non-fat or low-fat sweets immediately after exercise – and do not forget your protein shake too!
Rule 6: Favor Fat
- Fat yields twice the energy in comparison to carbohydrates and protein: 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates or protein contains 4 calories.
- A higher percentage of monounsaturated and saturated fats maintains high testosterone levels.
- For fat loss, muscle mass, and overall improved health, approximately 20-30% of your total daily caloric intake needs to come from fat: 10% from saturated, 10% from monounsaturated, and 10% from polyunsaturated (including omega-3 fatty acids). Or, simply, consume about 0.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight each day.
- Try supplementing your diet with 2-3 grams of essential fatty acids, such as fish oil, two or three times each day. Or, add 1-2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil to your coffee or Greek yogurt in the morning.
Rule 7: Stay Active
- Research indicates that a sedentary lifestyle can turn off the genes responsible for burning fat.
- If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days per week, one hour of exercise before or after work is not enough!
- Find an enjoyable physical activity and incorporate it into your work day: walking or cycling to and from work, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a brisk walk at your lunch break, to name a few.
- Make it an effort to stand up, stretch, or walk around once each hour spent during your 8 hour work day.
Rule 8: Take a Multivitamin
- First and foremost, add a multivitamin to your diet: no matter how healthy your diet, it is nearly impossible to consume all required amounts of vitamins and minerals each and every day.
- Athletes and fitness enthusiasts who exercise intensely lose many critical vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and copper during exercise, recovery, and increased protein synthesis. A deficiency in any vitamin or mineral can weaken performance, fat loss, and muscle growth.
- What multivitamin do I take? Keep it simple: Select a multivitamin that contains 100% of the daily requirement for most vitamins and minerals. For the multivitamins low in specific vitamins and minerals, consume a separate supplement to make up for the difference.
- Multivitamin recommendations:
Men and Postmenopausal Women: Centrum Men Under 50; Centrum Silver Men 50+; CVS Spectravite Adult 50+ Multivitamin; One A Day Women’s 50+ Healthy Advantage; Walgreens A thru Z Select Multivitamin
Premenopausal Women: CVS Spectravite Ultra Women’s Multivitamin; Kirkland Signature Daily Multi; One A Day Women’s; Target Up & Up Women’s Daily Multivitamin; Walgreens One Daily for Women
Rule 9: Supplement with Creatine
- Creatine is not only for men with the goal to increase muscle size and strength: men and women, alike, need to consume this protein supplement.
- Creatine provides energy to muscle and nerve cells.
- In addition to improved muscle function, research found that creatine can also help brain function and prevent depression as well as aid in heart health and protect the skin from sun damage.
Rule 10: Cheat!
- First and foremost, healthful eating is most important. Filling your body with quality protein, vegetables, and healthy fats will help you feel better, look better, perform better, and live longer. However, you deserve to indulge and enjoy yourself in moderation.
- Allow yourself one meal each week of anything: anything you have been craving. Pizza and beer, pasta and wine, homemade mac and cheese, donuts, ice cream, BJ’s Brewhouse’s famous Pizookie, you name it! Eat it, but not all of it! Choose one good meal and one dessert, and enjoy every last bite.
- One cheat meal each week will allow yourself to maintain a healthy diet the remainder of the week – and, the cheat meal will taste better because you will not be eating it limitlessly!
- Lastly, one cheat meal will not damage you diet – as long as you eat healthy the rest of the week. Lose the guilt and enjoy – you only live once!
About Jim Stoppani
Jim Stoppani received his doctorate in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Connecticut. Following graduation, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow in the prestigious John B. Pierce Laboratory and Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine, where he investigated the effects of exercise and diet on gene regulation in muscle tissue.
He was awarded the Gatorade Beginning Investigator in Exercise Science Award in 2002 by the American Physiological Society for his groundbreaking research. Currently Jim runs his own fitness website www.jimstoppani.com.
Dr. Stoppani has been the personal nutrition and health consultant for numerous celebrity clients, such as LL Cool J, Dr. Dre, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Mario Lopez, and has appeared on the NBC television show Extra as an Extra LifeChanger and as a science expert on the Spike television shows Jesse James is a Dead Man and MANswers.
Stoppani, J. (2014). 10 rules to live, lift, and eat by. doi: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/10-rules-to-live-eat-and-lift-by.html?mcid=deals_full_03272014&rmid=deals_full_03272014_NULL&rrid=7407829. Accessed April 3, 2014.
Schardt, D. & Scarmo, S. (2013). Multi dilema: Should you take one? Nutrition Action Health Letter, 3-5.