The standard American diet, also known as the “Western pattern diet,” provides, on average, 2,200 daily Calories. Roughly 50% of that comes from carbohydrates, 15% from protein, and 35% from fat.
On paper, these levels fall within Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (ADMR) as they’re defined by the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States Institute of Medicine. In practice, however, especially if you’re a gym-goer, the “standard” American diet food items providing those macronutrients are far from ideal.
What’s Wrong with Common American Dietary Habits?
According to the research, and as supported by USDA data, too many Americans eat “processed and artificially sweetened foods, and salt, with minimal intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and whole grains.”
These dietary patterns have been associated with an increased risk for obesity, cancer, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and other potentially lethal conditions.
But even if you’re disciplined enough to avoid added sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods, healthier modern diets are still likely to provide your body with insufficient nutrients.
According to the research, we need to consider seven crucial characteristics:
- glycemic load
- fatty-acid composition
- macronutrient composition
- micronutrient density
- acid-base balance
- sodium-potassium ratio
- fiber content
And even though the modern diet is “associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases while providing adequate intakes of essential nutrients,” this simply means that you’re unlikely to suffer from starvation, malnutrition, scurvy, rickets, pellagra, or other ancient-sounding third-world diseases.
It’s nothing to get complacent over, especially for those of you who work hard on lifting weights and running sprints to sculpt the perfect body. If you spend a couple of hours every other day sweating in the gym, you might as well make sure that your nutrition — which is critical for weight loss, muscle gain, increased stamina, and strength — is on point.
Improving dietary habits is always better than turning to pills. Still, certain nutrition-related issues are pretty easy to fix with the help of some simple, safe, and inexpensive supplements. The idea behind this approach is to compensate for the lack of micronutrients, vitamins, and other crucial compounds by supplementing an already well-rounded whole-foods based diet.
Here’s our top 5 supplements which will make you feel healthy and look great, all the while improving your performance at the gym.
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First on the list is the most studied and the most beneficial supplement for strength and improved physical appearance. Creatine is naturally found in meat, eggs, and fish, and it does two things: boost the body’s reserves of ATP (the main energy source on the cellular level), and make your muscles retain more water, meaning you look bigger and more ripped compared with someone with the same level of lean body mass.
This mineral is responsible for over 300 processes in the body. Magnesium helps improve functional muscle performance and is connected to a healthier blood pressure. Being deficient in magnesium has been linked to clinical depression and cardiovascular disorders. Great sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
#3. Fish Oil
Fish oil is a great source of health-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel, salmon, and sardines are great sources, but if fish isn’t your thing, supplements will do the trick. Aside from providing a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, fish oil also improves muscle metabolism and functional response during physical exercise.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is an umbrella term for three essential amino acids: valine, leucine, and isoleucine. They’re all used as protein building blocks. Unlike other amino acids, they can’t be made by your body and need to come from your diet. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and dairy products are full of them, but a protein shake can be a great source of BCAAs as well.
Consuming BCAAs helps reduce physical and mental fatigue, as well as muscle soreness post-exercise. It may also increase lean muscle mass.
#5. Vitamin D
This vitamin, which acts as a hormone, is known to provide many health benefits, including improved muscle function and physical performance, as well as bone health. Eating fatty fish, beef liver, and vitamin-D-fortified foods, as well as getting enough sunlight, will provide your body with enough vitamin D.
According to the statistics, 50% of the population has vitamin D insufficiency. If you’re among that crowd, vitamin D supplements would be a great addition to your medicine cabinet.
Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
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