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[vc_custom_heading text=”Born 2 Dominate Fitness Challenge.” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:center” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]

Exercise is so much more than a means to score a “toned body”. This 4-week challenge is designed to make you feel energized, fitter, and stronger than ever before.

It is estimated that it takes people 21-28 days to form a new habit. This 28-Day Workout Challenge is a commitment to making physical health a priority by moving your body for 30 minutes each day for 28 days in an effort to form a new healthy habit. That is it! There are no rules or stipulations around how you should or can do that.

Prior to commencing a purposeful change to your diet, you should first understand your regular eating routine by tracking everything you eat and drink for a week.

You can track your usual percentages of carbohydrates, proteins and fats with an online food diary – we suggest one of the following:
• Myfitnesspal.com
• Fitday.com
• My-calorie-counter.com
• Myfooddiary.com

Wouldn’t life be great if we could just eat what we want (within moderation) and still look good? As you probably know, you need to eat properly to see the results from working out. Unless you eat accordingly you will never see the results that you seek. You need
the right amount of nutrients to repair the muscles you will damage during your training sessions, if you do not
eat enough you can lose muscle.

Your body can’t lose fat unless you make it operate at just the right deficit of calories. Eat just a few hundred too many calories per day, and you’ll find yourself stuck in the miserable rut of feeling like you’re “on a diet”
without losing any weight.

Most “diets” out there do not go well in the fact that most people can’t stomach the same handful of food
options every day, or that being severely restricted in one’s diet can lead to all-out splurging, which then leads
to the dreaded weight gain yo-yo.

When you learn how and what to eat and have the right balance of foods at the right times you can really eat what you want and still either lose weight or put on lean muscle. You will have a diet that allows for a variety of foods and that allows you to indulge now and again along with enhancing your overall health by incorporating healthy carbs and fats instead of the junk found in most people’s cupboards and fridges.

Getting proper nutrition is a precise science, but it  doesn’t have to be agonizing. In fact, I recommend a  more laid-back approach. If you make planning or  tracking meals too complicated, you’ll have trouble  sticking with it. The good news is that, you can look and feel great without breaking out a calculator every time  you eat.

However, to lose body fat, you must keep your body  burning more energy than you’re feeding it, and the  energy potential of food is measured in calories. When  you eat too many calories—you give your body more  potential energy than it needs—and it has no incentive  to burn fat.

To gain muscle, your body needs a surplus of calories to  repair and rebuild the muscles you damaged through  training (along with plenty of protein). Thus, you need  to eat slightly more than your body burns to get bigger.

A calorie is a measurement of the potential energy found in food, and your body burns quite a bit of energy every day. Everything from the beating of your heart to the digestion of your food requires energy, and your body must get it from the food you eat.

Thus, it’s important that you feed your body enough,  and that’s especially true when you work out. If you underfeed your body, don’t be surprised if you don’t have the energy to train hard or if you feel generally exhausted.

•Eat 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight
per day.
•Eat 1 gram of carbs per pound of body weight
per day.
•Eat 1 gram of healthy fats per 4 pounds of body
weight per day.

That’s where you start. For a 200lb male, it would look
like this:

•400 grams of protein per day
•200 grams of carbs per day
•50 grams of fat per day

That’s about 2,850 calories per day, which should work for making slow, steady muscle and strength gains without any fat added along the way (which really should be the goal of “maintenance”—not staying the exact same). If your priority is to gain muscle, then you need to add about 500 calories per day to your  “maintenance” diet. The easiest way to do this is to bump up your carbs by about 50 grams per day, and your fats by about 30 grams per day. If you’re trying to lose fat, then you need to subtract about 500 calories per day from your maintenance diet. To do this, drop your carbs by about 100 grams per day and your fats by about 10  grams per day.

This will all depend on your personal goals and how much muscle you are looking to put on or fast you are looking to lose.

It’s also important that you consume high-quality foods.  Junk food calories, such as white bread and pasta,  chips, and juice and soda, will make you look and feel like crap, while good calories, such as fruits, vegetables,  whole grains, and lean proteins, will keep you feeling and looking, great.

EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN

When you do any form of training especially weight training, you break down your muscles causing damage and the best way to repair those muscles is to feed them good nutrition, for this, you will need to consume more protein than someone who doesn’t work out. If you work out, you need more protein than someone who doesn’t work out. Why? Because exercise causes muscle damage. With every rep you perform, you’re causing “microtears” in your muscle fibers, and your body needs protein to fully repair this damage.

The body doesn’t just repair them to their previous state, however; it builds them bigger and stronger, so it can better handle the stress of exercise. So, to get the most out of your workouts, you need to eat enough protein. And that doesn’t mean just eating a lot after working out. It means having protein 4 – 6 times per day with a few hours in between each meal. By doing this, you can keep your body in an “anabolic” state, which means a state in which it is building muscle and repairing tissue. If you fail to feed your body enough protein, it will fall behind in the muscle breakdown and repair cycle, and your body will go into a “catabolic” state, meaning that it will break down muscle and other tissue despite exercise.

There are two main sources of protein out there: whole food protein and supplement protein. Whole food protein is, as you guessed, a protein that comes from natural food sources, such as beef, chicken, fish, etc. The best forms of whole food protein are chicken, turkey, lean red meat, fish, eggs, and milk. If you’re vegetarian, your best options are eggs, low-fat cottage cheese (Organic Valley is my favorite brand), low-fat European style (Greek) yogurt (0% Fage is my favorite), tempeh, tofu, quinoa, almonds, rice, and beans.

While we’re on about vegetarianism, some people claim that you must carefully combine your proteins if you’re vegetarian or vegan to ensure your body is getting “complete” proteins (all the amino acids needed to build tissue). This theory and the faulty research it was based on was thoroughly debunked as a myth by the American Dietetic Association, yet it still hangs around. While it’s true that some sources of vegetable protein are lower in certain amino acids than other forms of protein, there is no scientific evidence to prove that they lack them altogether.

Protein supplements are powdered or liquid foods that contain protein from various sources, such as whey (a liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained in the process of making cheese), egg, and soy —the three most common sources of supplement protein. There are also great plant-based supplements out there that are a blend of high-quality protein sources such as quinoa, brown rice, peas, hemp, and fruit.

You don’t NEED protein supplements to eat well, but it can be impractical for some to try to get all protein from whole foods because you will be eating protein 4 – 6 times per day.

Another thing to know about protein is that different proteins digest at different speeds, and some are better utilized by the body than others. Beef protein, for example, is digested quickly, and 70 – 80% of what’s eaten is utilized by the body (the exact number varies based on what study you read, but they all fall between 70 – 80%). Whey protein is also digested quickly and its “net protein utilization” (NPU) is in the low 90% range. Egg protein digests much slower than whey and beef, and its NPU also falls in the same range.

EAT GOOD CARBS

The carbohydrate is probably the most misunderstood, maligned, and feared macro-nutrient. Thanks to the scores of bogus diet plans and suggestions out there, many people equate eating carbs with getting fat. While eating TOO MANY carbs can make you fat (just as eating too much protein or fat can), carbs are hardly your enemy. They play an essential role in not only muscle growth but in overall body function. Regardless of what type of carbohydrate you eat—broccoli or apple pie—the body breaks it down into two substances: glucose and glycogen. Glucose is commonly referred to as “blood sugar,” and it’s an energy source used by your cells to do the many things they do. Glycogen is a substance stored in the liver and muscles that can be easily converted to glucose for immediate energy. When you lift weights intensely, your muscles burn up their glycogen stores to cope with the overload.

Now, why is broccoli good for you but apple pie isn’t? Because your body reacts very differently to broccoli than to apple pie. You’ve probably heard the terms “simple” and “complex” carbs before and wondered what they meant. You might have also heard of the glycemic index and wondered what it was all about. These things are simple. The glycemic index is a numeric system of ranking how quickly carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body. Carbs are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100 depending on how they affect blood sugar levels once eaten. A GI rating of 55 and under is considered “low GI,” 56 to 69 is medium, and 70 and above is high on the index.

A “simple” carb is one that converts very quickly (is high on the glycemic index), such as table sugar, honey, and watermelon, while a “complex” carb is one that converts slowly (is low on the glycemic index), such as broccoli, apple, and wholegrain bread. It’s very important to know where the carbs you eat fall on the index because studies have linked regular consumption of high-GI carbs to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The amount of carbohydrates that you should eat every day depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Building muscle requires that you eat a substantial amount of carbs while dieting to lose weight requires that you reduce carbs. Regardless of how many carbs you need to eat per day, there’s a simple rule to follow regarding high-, medium and low-glycemic carbs. Eat carbs in the medium-high range of the glycemic index (70 – 90 is a good rule of thumb) about 30 minutes before you exercise, and again within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

The reason you want some carbs before training is that you need energy for your training. The reason you want them after is that your muscles’ glycogen stores are heavily depleted, and by replacing them quickly, you help your body maintain an anabolic state and not lose muscle tissue.

My favorite pre-and post-workout carbs are bananas, but other good choices are baked potato, instant oatmeal, and fruits that are above 60 on the glycemic index, such as pineapple, watermelon, dates, apricots, and figs. All other carbs you eat should be in the middle or at the low end of the glycemic index (60 and below is a good rule of thumb). It really is that simple. If you follow this rule, you’ll avoid so many problems that others suffer from due to the energy highs and lows that come with eating high-GI carbs that burn the body out.

So, forget stuff like sugar, white bread, processed, low-quality whole wheat bread, bagels, junk cereals, muffins, white pasta, crackers, waffles, rice cakes, corn flakes, and white rice. I wouldn’t even recommend eating these things often as pre-or post-workout carbs because they’re just not good for your body.

Even certain fruits, such as watermelon and dates, are bad snack foods because of where they fall on the glycemic index. If you’re unsure about a carb you like, look it up to see where it falls on the glycemic index. If it’s above 60, just leave it out of your meals that aren’t immediately before or after working out.

EAT HEALTHY FATS

Fats are the densest energy source available to your body. Each gram of fat contains over twice the calories of a gram of carbohydrate or protein. Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, flaxseed oil, many nuts, and other foods, are actually an important component for overall good health. Fats help your body absorb the other nutrients that you give it; they nourish the nervous system, help maintain cell structures, regulate hormone levels, and more. Certain fats are unhealthy, though, and can lead to disease and other health problems.

These types of fats are called saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are a form of fat found mainly in animal products such as meat, dairy products, and egg yolks. Some plant foods, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, are also high in saturated fats. Eating too many saturated fats can negatively affect cholesterol levels, so they should be eaten in moderation. Trans fats are scientifically modified saturated fats that have been engineered to give foods longer shelf lives.

Many cheap, packaged foods are full of trans fats (such as run-of-the-mill popcorn, yogurt, and peanut butter) as are many frozen foods (such as frozen pizza, packaged pastries, cakes, etc.). And fried foods are often fried in trans fats. These fats are bad news, and eating too much of them can lead to all kinds of diseases and complications. They have no nutritional value for the body and thus should be avoided altogether.

Most people eat more fat than is necessary, thus adding lots of unnecessary calories to their daily intake. Getting enough healthy fats, every day is simple. Here’s how it works: Keep your intake of saturated fats low (below 10% of your total calories). Saturated fat is found in foods like meat, dairy products, eggs, coconut oil, bacon fat, and lard. If a fat is solid at room temperature, it’s saturated fat. Completely avoid trans fats, which are the worst type of saturated fat. Trans fats are found in processed foods such as cookies, cakes, fries, and donuts. Any food that contains “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” likely contains trans fats, so just don’t eat it. (Sure, having a cheat here and there that contains trans fats won’t harm anything, but you don’t want to eat them regularly.) Get your fat from unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, peanut oil, avocados, flaxseed oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, or cottonseed oil. If a fat is liquid at room temperature, it’s unsaturated fat.

EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES

Your body requires many different things to function optimally. It can’t look and feel great on protein and carbs alone. You need calcium to ensure your muscles can contract and relax properly. You need fiber to help move food through the digestive tract. You need iron to carry oxygen to your cells and create energy.

There are many other “little helpers” that your body needs to perform its many physiological processes, and fruits and vegetables contain many vital nutrients that you can’t get from vitamin supplements. By eating 3 – 5 servings of both fruits and vegetables per day, you enjoy the many benefits that these nutrients give to your body, such as lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other diseases.

This isn’t hard to do, either. A medium-sized piece of fruit is one serving, as is half a cup of berries. A cup of greens is a serving of vegetables, as is half a cup of other vegetables.

Fruit juices, however, are another story. While they may seem like an easy way to get in your daily fruits, they are not much more than tasty sugar water. Not only do most fruit juices have sugar added, but the juice has also been separated from the fruit’s fibrous pulp, which slows down the metabolism of the sugars. Without that, the juice becomes a very high- glycemic drink. You’re better off drinking water and eating whole fruit. The exception to this is creating juice using a juicer or blender to grind up the entire piece of fruit, removing nothing.

This, of course, is no different than chewing up the fruit in your mouth. Fruits widely recognized as the healthiest are apples, bananas, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and pineapples. Vegetables often recommended as the healthiest are asparagus, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and eggplant.

DRINK A LOT OF WATER

The human body is about 60% water in adult males and about 70% in adult females. Muscles are about 70% water. That alone tells you how important staying hydrated is to maintaining good health and proper body function. Your body’s ability to digest, transport, and absorb nutrients from food is dependent upon proper fluid intake. Water helps prevent injuries in the gym by cushioning joints and other soft-tissue areas. When your body is dehydrated, literally every physiological process is negatively affected.

I really can’t stress enough the importance of drinking clean, pure water. It has zero calories, so it will never cause you to gain weight regardless of how much you drink. (You can harm your body by drinking too much water, but this would require that you drink several gallons per day.)

The Institute of Medicine reported in 2004 that women should consume about 91 ounces of water—or three-quarters of a gallon—per day, and men should consume about 125 ounces per day (a gallon is one 128). Now, keep in mind that those numbers include the water found in food. The average person gets about 80% of their water from drinking it and other beverages, and about 20% of the food they eat.

CHEAT CORRECTLY

Many people struggling with diets talk about “cheat days.” The idea is that if you’re good during the week, you can go buck wild on the weekends and somehow not gain fat. Well, unless you have a very fast metabolism, that’s not how it works. If you follow a strict diet and exercise, you can expect to lose 1 – 2 pounds per week. If you get too crazy, you can gain it right back over a weekend.

So, don’t think cheat DAYS, think cheat MEALS— meals where you eat more or less anything you want (and all other meals of the week follow your meal plan). When done once or twice per week, a cheat meal is not only satisfying but can speed up your metabolic rate. Scientists aren’t sure why, but it might have to do with a similar factor of muscle growth: overload. By “overloading” your metabolism occasionally, you make it work extra hard, and it has to always be ready to handle a large influx of calories. I would recommend, however, that you don’t go too overboard with your cheat meals—don’t eat 2,000 calories of junk food and desserts and think it won’t do anything. When you’re eating to stay lean and gain muscle slowly, two cheat meals per week is totally fine. When you’re dieting to lose weight, you can have one cheat meal per week

[vc_custom_heading text=”Protein” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]
FOODAMOUNTCALORIESPROTEINCARBSFAT
Skinless boneless chicken breast100 grams1202303
Skinless boneless chicken thigh100 grams1212004
Ground beef100 grams1522107
Ground turkey100 grams1501908
Plain nonfat Greek yogurt100 grams591040
Sirloin, trimmed of visible fat100 grams1272204
1% cottage cheese100 grams721231
Skim milk100 grams34350
Whey protein isolate100 grams34576100
Whole egg100 grams14313110
[vc_custom_heading text=”Carbs” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]
FOODAMOUNTCALORIESPROTEINCARBSFAT
Sweet potato100 grams862200
Potato100 grams692160
White pasta100 grams37113752
White rice100 grams3657801
Brown rice100 grams3678763
White bread100 grams2669493
Pearled barley100 grams35210781
Oatmeal100 grams37913687
Quinoa100 grams36814646
Lentil100 grams35225631
[vc_custom_heading text=”Fats” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]
FOODAMOUNTCALORIESPROTEINCARBSFAT
Avocado100 grams1602915
Almond100 grams579212250
Walnut100 grams619241059
70 to 85% dark chocolate100 grams59884643
Creamy peanut butter100 grams598222251
Olive oil100 grams88400100
Canola oil100 grams88400100
Butter100 grams7171081
Half-and-half100 grams1313412
Cheddar cheese100 grams40323333
[vc_custom_heading text=”Fruits” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]
FOODAMOUNTCALORIESPROTEINCARBSFAT
Banana100 grams891230
Grape100 grams691180
Strawberry100 grams32180
Watermelon100 grams30180
Orange100 grams471120
Pear100 grams570150
Blueberry100 grams571150
Apple100 grams520140
Raspberry100 grams521120
Cantaloupe100 grams34180
[vc_custom_heading text=”Vegetables” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]
FOODAMOUNTCALORIESPROTEINCARBSFAT
Broccoli100 grams34370
Zucchini100 grams17130
Carrot100 grams411100
Brussels sprout100 grams43390
Lettuce100 grams17130
Tomato100 grams18140
Green bean100 grams31200
Onion100 grams40190
Mushroom100 grams22330
Asparagus100 grams20240
[vc_custom_heading text=”Condiments” google_fonts=”font_family:Bangers%3Aregular|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”]
FOODAMOUNTCALORIESPROTEINCARBSFAT
Mayonnaise100 grams6801175
Ketchup100 grams1011270
BBQ sauce100 grams1721411
Pesto100 grams418101038
Mustard100 grams60463
Horseradish100 grams481111
Balsamic vinegar100 grams880170
Soy sauce100 grams601160
Tabasco sauce100 grams12111
Sriracha sauce100 grams932191