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A man's guide to a great body
Samreedhi Sharma Goel |
June 01, 2006
If you're a guy and want to build your body, you are in luck.
Men naturally have more muscle mass than women. If you are a guy, you can tone your body and lose body fat much more easily and much faster than if you were a woman as men have a higher metabolic rate. Your muscles also acquire definition faster and can bulk up sooner, all thanks to the hormone testosterone.
You could hit the gym or practise our 5 recommended exercises regularly to keep in shape.
Besides working out, though, you are what you eat. So, you should know your carbs from your protein or your fat. You must also know how much of each to consume. Here are some diet nuggets for all men; this will help you understand the various components of food.
You may think increasing your protein intake by way of protein foods and supplements is the answer to big muscles. You couldn't be further from the truth.
Carbs are one of the most misunderstood nutrients (after fat!). They are the only nutrients that can be broken down aerobically and anaerobically (with or without the presence of oxygen) for energy release -- without releasing a by-product that is harmful to the body.
Carbs contribute to the all important muscle glycogen; this supplies energy to the muscles that work as you exercise.
Two types of carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates, like the fibre present in all fruits, vegetables and whole grains, give you a feeling of fullness and add bulk to the food without increasing its calorie value.
On the other hand, simple carbs present in maida and fruit juices are not as filling; they also yield less energy.
Carbohydrates have a protein sparing action -- ie if you eat enough carbohydrates, it allows proteins to do their work of building your muscles. However, if you don't, then proteins end up doing the work of carbohydrates -- ie supplying energy -- so they cannot build the body anymore. Besides, they also release harmful by-products.
Percentage of carbohydrate needed: Fifty to 80 percent of your calories (depending on your activity level) should come from carbohydrates.
Food list: Complex carbohydrate foods include whole grain cereals like wheat, jowar, bajra, etc, and pulses like rajma, chole, whole moong, masur, etc, whole fruits and vegetables.
Simple carb foods include refined sugars, maida and fruit juices.
While excess fat will make you gain weight, some amount of fat in the diet is essential.
The reason? Fats provide 'satiety' value in the diet and are a concentrated source of energy.
They are a stored form of energy and store fat-vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K until the body requires them.
Fats also provide insulation and cushion the body's vital organs.
Percentage of fat needed: Ten percent of your calories should come from fat.
Food list: Always choose unsaturated fat (olive, peanut, almonds, cashew, corn, sesame oil) over saturated fat (butter, ghee, coconut oil).
While protein is a structural component of muscles, just adding more protein to the diet does not make your muscles grow. Excess protein in the body is stored as fat.
Besides, the breakdown products of this unutilised protein are toxic to the body and are an added burden to the kidneys.
For protein to perform its functions of bodybuilding and repair efficiently, it has to be taken in balance with other nutrients like fat and carbohydrates.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids, nine are 'essential' and cannot be produced by our body; the source for these amino acids is the food we eat. If a food contains all nine essential amino acids, it is said to be a complete protein (example: eggs).
Most men working out in gyms believe they should consume at least 1-1.2 gm of protein per kg of body weight. While this may be true for professional body builders who train for a minimum of three to four hours a day at the gym, this figure is totally over-the-top for the average gym-goer. The average Indian male requires about 60 gm of protein per day. This can be met through a normal diet rich in milk, eggs and lean meat.
Vegetarians, too, can easily meet their protein requirements by having a good combination of cereals and pulses in order to get a complete protein intake.
This is because cereals lack in amino acid lysine (ensures adequate absorption of calcium, aids in the production of antibodies, hormones, enzymes, etc).
Pulses lack in methionine (provides sulphur content, lowers cholesterol, etc).
However, when combined, they give you high quality protein as each has what the other lacks.
Percentage of protein needed: If 20 percent of your day's calorie intake come from protein, you are in the correct range.
Food list: Milk, eggs, chicken, fish, whole grain cereals, pulses.
When you may need a supplement
- You cannot manage to have five to six meals in a day at three hour intervals.
- You are strictly vegetarian and have a very low milk intake.
- You train heavily in the gym six days a week.
- You are constantly on the run.
When to avoid supplements
You experience excess fatigue. This could be due to the build up of toxins, the by-products of protein breakdown when protein is taken in excess.
You have unexplained excessive hair loss.
You have taken a break from training with weights, the protein will be treated as extra and stored as fat.
You do not find any difference in your body after supplementation.
You do not know the correct dosage.
Anyone other than a nutritionist/ dietician has recommended it to you.
The supplement label does not show approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
The label does not have a list of ingredients with the source of protein.
Note: If you train alternate days, take supplements also on alternate days only.
Water helps you recover from your workouts, aids fat based fuelling of muscles and is stored inside the cells.
Waiting till you are really thirsty to drink water means you are already close to dehydration. Dehydration will lead to reduced performance and will not allow the toxins to be thrown out of the blood.
What's more, water is stored along with glycogen in the muscles. If you do not drink enough water the extra glucose remains in the bloodstream . On reaching the liver it is stored as fat instead of being converted to glycogen.
How much to drink: Make it a point to drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water a day.
Samreedhi Sharma Goel is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. She runs Size Wise, her training studio. She also conducts fitness workshops. Besides training with the International Sports Science Association, USA, she has a PG Diploma in nutrition and food technology and writes for a variety of publications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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