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6 Golden Rules For Optimal Health....

RULE 1: Water

This may seem like a rule that has been touted left right and centre by many health professionals but I think people still don't get the point of how important this vital nutrient is. When I look at the diet diaries from my clients the water intake is always around 1 litre, or if it's more half of it is squash, juice and other fluids that are far from ideal. If you are one of these people that hate water or don't drink it for some reason then I only have one piece of advice, find a way to love it, and quickly.

Water hydrates the cells and enables all systems of the body from the blood to the organs to operate at their full potential. It will also provide vital trace minerals and electrolytes if you are drinking spring or mineral water or water with added sea salt. Water carries toxins out of the system keeping you squeaky clean. Water keeps your mind sharp and enables your muscles to have full flexibility and strength. A 2% loss in hydration can lead to a 10% drop in performance, a vital component for anyone in training.

Water is also vital for weight loss for many of the reasons listed above and many more. If you can drink mineral or spring water then do, if not reverse osmosis, filtered or tap water with an added pinch of sea salt per litre of water.

So here is a well researched rule of thumb, aim to drink half your body weight in pounds (lbs) in fluid ounces. So if I am 180lbs (half of which is 90), I will want to consume 90 fluid ounces of water a day, which is 2.5 litres. If you exercise, then this requirement will increase to approximately 500ml extra for every hour of exercise completed.

RULE 2: Protein at every meal

Protein is a seriously important nutrient to the body, and does more than just build and repair muscle. The magnitude of protein at each meal will vary from person to person and is key in getting real results and maximising ones energy levels. This protein is also best served as animal protein as this is the only complete protein source with all the essential amino acids. If you're looking to build muscle in your training program then this is even more important.

When people think of protein they also tend to think about chicken and fish. There are many protein sources that are all good sources as long as they are good quality and are nice high quality lean cuts. And yes that includes fattier meats such as beef, an excellent form of protein and a great weight loss food due to its CLA content. So ditch that cereal for breakfast and get some eggs and oatmeal with yogurt and fruit on the menu.

RULE 3: Controlling your blood sugar level

Now controlling your blood sugar level is not always the easiest thing to do on your own if you are not good at listening to your body and the response it has to different foods. Being able to manage your blood sugar level comes from eating the correct amount of carbohydrate, fat and protein at every meal so that energy production is optimal from the food intake. Not listening to your body and understanding the correct ratio of foods to eat at every meal for your body type will not enable you to reap you the rewards you desire as a result of your efforts.

If this is something that you want to discover for yourself then start playing around with the ratio of fat, carbohydrate and protein you are eating at your meals and take note of the reaction you get as a result. Your energy an hour after your meal will tell you whether you have got your macronutrient proportions right or not.

RULE 4: Changing your exercise program

Now keeping the body guessing can be the key for a lot of people in maintaining their lean physiques, and there is no better way of doing this than regularly changing your exercise program and challenging your body to bigger and harder workouts. The body gets complacent very quickly, especially with cardio based exercise programs such as running and cycling. These types of programs need to be changed very often as the body adapts very quickly.

This is not quite as important with weight training, but weight training programs should still ideally be changed every 4 weeks. If you are a runner and enjoy running, then try mixing every other workout up with an interval or sprint based training session. If you usually lift weights to build muscle then try a growth hormone boosting lactate circuit to bolster your weight training efforts. There are many ways to change your exercise program, so think outside the box and get sweating.

RULE 5: Eat your greens

Vegetables are touted as the health super food across the board, and guess what? Everyone that said it was right, they really are. Vegetables, especially green ones, are vitally important for providing all the vitamins and minerals for the body but also to mop up all those nasty free radicals that are produced throughout exercise and stress. Green vegetables such as spinach also provide many key nutrients that are vital for building lean muscle tissue. So the next time you think of your failing forearms and think of Popeye, think to eat your spinach. Vegetables should make up at least 50% of your carbohydrate content throughout your daily food intake.

RULE 6: Eat your fats

I don't care what anyone says about fats, these are a seriously important nutrient in maintain health, losing weight and building lean muscle tissue. Fats provide all the building blocks for all the hormones in the body and hormones control most of the functions within the body, including the hormones that tell us to gain and lose weight.

Firstly if there is a lack of fat in the diet then the body will drop into a survival mode where it feels it is nutritionally under threat and will hold on to any fat that it has. When more fat is consumed the body will then store this as a continual response to being in a survival mode. One reason to have a healthy supply of good fats in the diet.

Fats also provide two fat stripping nutrients called omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, which both in their own way cause the body to maintain healthy levels of fat in the body and use fat effectively as a fuel source. So what are the good fats you may ask? Stock your cupboards with good quality animal protein, omega 3 fats, olive oil, coconut oil for cooking, butter for spreading and cooking (not vegetable spreads or oils) and various other nut or seed oils for dressing and dips. Dairy is another great source of fat in anyone's diet that provides great amounts of CLA if the cow was raised on a natural diet of grass.

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