Healthier You – Get Fit!

By Luis Gutierrez

January is here and many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. Many resolutions regard increased fitness levels, weight loss, or both. For service members, a healthy, fit body is essential. No rank or age is exempt from the rigorous demands of combat, and no full-duty service member is exempt from the physical fitness test. As you set your New Year’s resolutions for 2012, here are some tips to keep you healthy and fit.

Drink like a fish. Pass up the tequila bottle and grab a water bottle. Think back to basic training. Remember the long days, restless nights and lack of food? Despite that, you had energy to train all day and into the night. This is due primarily to water consumed during training. Water is the single most important component of a healthy body. It makes up 75 percent of your muscle mass. The average person needs to drink approximately three liters of water per day (according to the Mayo Clinic). As you work out, you need to replace the water you lose.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. Well, protein shake, actually. Protein is the most important nutrient needed for muscle growth. A good rule of thumb is 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, so a 180-lb person requires 90 grams of protein per day to maintain current muscle mass. For those trying to gain muscle, one gram of protein per pound of body mass is generally recommended. People do not absorb all proteins equally, however. Red meat has a 60 percent approximate absorption rate, while a high-quality whey protein isolate has a 90 percent approximate absorption rate. This is why protein shakes are so important: high absorption, low waste, more bang for your protein buck.

Go nuts. Nuts are one of the most poorly understood health foods out there today. Nuts provide a great source of healthy fat, necessary for helping your body metabolize and process food. They are also a good source of vegetable protein. Additionally, nuts help the body maintain healthy levels of testosterone, which helps to build muscle and maintain a healthy libido. Testosterone is a cholesterol-based chemical, so these benefits exist in all nuts, regardless of type or size. Nuts are best consumed between meals by themselves, or when combined with a protein shake.

Open wide. Don’t starve yourself … it isn’t worth it and it doesn’t work. Remember, your body is really smart, and when you deprive it of food, it can go into hibernation mode, lowering your metabolic rate and decreasing the number of calories you burn. Eliminating whole food groups or types from your diet is equally as dangerous as starvation. Completely cutting out carbohydrates, fats, sugars or other types of calories can be harmful to your body and can actual make dieting harder. Your body is designed to work on a balanced mix of fuels, and requires a blend of protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as the nutrients and vitamins found naturally in a large variety of foods. Eating a balanced diet with fewer calories consumed than burned is always the healthiest and most effective way to lose weight. Get off the computer or video game. Instead of adding new armor to your character or more friends to your profile, imagine adding an inch to your biceps or losing an inch from your waist. Just a few hours in the gym every day yields noticeable results. It may take weeks or months to get to your goal, but the increased energy and self-confidence from a regular workout routine has a multiplying effect, and you won’t regret your decision.

The Workout: Click image to see full-size.

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