The Body for Life Diet
The Body for Life diet is an exercise and nutrition program created by Bill Phillips, founder of EAS, a performance-nutrition company, and author of Body for Life, a bestselling book about the program.
Body for Life Diet: What Is It?
The Body for Life diet is a 12-week nutrition and exercise program. The dietary component of the program promotes eating small meals of lean protein and healthy carbohydrates every few hours, up to six times a day. The exercise component of the program entails 45 minutes of weight training three days a week, alternating with 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week. On the seventh day, you can eat whatever you want and take a break from workouts.
Body for Life Diet: How Does It Work?
According to Phillips, the Body for Life diet is based on research that suggests eating smaller meals more frequently speeds up your metabolism and helps you maintain steady energy levels throughout the day. “Every time you eat, you get a little metabolic boost,” says Amy Lanou, PhD, nutritionist and assistant professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. “When you graze, you don’t have a lot of time between meals, and you’re burning up fuel at a faster rate.”
The Body for Life diet also stresses balancing protein and carbohydrates. According to the Body for Life diet, protein stabilizes insulin levels, which helps keep energy levels steady throughout the day, and can also help curb your appetite.
The weight training and cardio exercise component of the Body for Life diet is intended to burn fat, increase your metabolic rate, and change the shape of your body.
Body for Life Diet: A Sample Day’s Menu
A typical day’s meals might include a burrito breakfast; a nutrition snack bar; a turkey sandwich and an apple for lunch; a nutrition shake as a second snack; steak, steamed veggies, and a sweet potato for dinner; and rice pudding as the final snack. Water is suggested with each meal and snack.
Suggested snacks include products from Phillips’ performance-nutrition company, including the Myoplex nutrition bar and the Myoplex shake.
Body for Life Shopping list:
MEAT And Fish And POULTRY
OILS and DRESSINGS
TOPPINGS And CONDIMENTS
Body for Life Diet: Pros
“Lots of people have been helped by Phillips’ work,” says Lanou. The Web site has testimonials and photos of people who have participated in the Body for Life diet.
There are also healthy components to the Body for Life diet nutritional recommendations. “It’s high in vegetables and whole grains,” says Lanou.
Another factor: “Compared to many other diets, the Body for Life diet is more doable,” says dietitian Lona Sandon, MEd, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson. “It has more variety so you’re less likely to get bored than with [other diets]. People can stay on it for the long term.”
Body for Life Diet: Cons
“My biggest problem with the Body for Life diet is that it’s way too high in protein,” says Lanou. “It has as much as 40 to 50 percent of daily calories from protein. We only need 10 to 15 percent.” Animal proteins in excessive amounts, says Lanou, have been linked to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also faults the diet for its heavy emphasis on protein.
Another potential stumbling block for some individuals may be the Body for Life diet’s emphasis on intense exercise. “It seems like it’s more about exercise and less about diet,” says Lanou. “And while there are some instructions on tailoring training to individual needs, the acceleration to intense training may be too high for some sedentary individuals.”
Body for Life Diet: Short-Term Effects, Long-Term Effects
“The Body for Life diet is likely to help you gain muscle, lose weight, and help speed up your metabolism in the short term,” says Lanou. Long-term effects are also likely to be positive. “In many ways, the program is quite responsible,” says Lanou. “Using something like this to lose weight and get fit is a good idea, especially if you replace the recommended diet with one that has less animal protein. That would be healthy.”
The Body for Life diet is a program that can be used long-term, unlike many fad diets that promise quick results only to end in quick failure and weight re-gain.
Weight Loss with the Body-for-Life Diet
One of the great strengths of the Body-for-Life program is its simplicity. You can read the book, written by Bill Phillips, in one or two sittings. You can be up and running with the program in no time.
It is one of the few weight loss programs out there to place an equal emphasis on diet and exercise. When it comes to diet the rules are relatively straight forward:
* Eat small meals, six times per day.
* Each meal should include a portion of carbs and a portion of protein.
* A portion is defined as the size of your fist.
* Include a portion of vegetables with a couple of the meals.
* Drink plenty of water.
* Replace some meals with nutrition shakes when in a hurry.
* Plan ahead to be sure old habits don’t fill the void.
* One day per week, your free day, eat whatever you want.
The concept of the free day, in particular, is brilliant. How could you consistently follow any weight loss program that said you could never again eat your Mom’s apple pie?
The psychological lift you will get from the free day far outweighs any downside. The food you eat on this day may not do much to nourish your body, but it surely does nourish the soul. Besides, the “free day” food barely has a chance against your revved up metabolism from all that exercise the other 6 days!
Follow these rules and you will get the basic nutrients you need. Portion control is handled without complex calorie counting. Since the size of your fist is proportionate to your body, your portions will be appropriate for your body size.
As with any weight loss program, when starting out it’s probably best to focus primarily on changing your eating habits. If you are coming off of years of bad habits then you need to focus on changing your patterns and attitudes towards food.
Food is there to nourish your body through the transformational changes you will experience on this program. In order to grow muscle you need to feed it the proper nutrients. Apple pie, as good as it is, will simply not contribute to weight loss!
This is what separates a program like Body-for-Life from other diets. You are not simply limiting your calorie intake. You are expending a lot of energy with the workouts, and you need to replenish that energy with muscle building nutrients.
Combining intense exercise with a proper diet is a potent combination. The exercise burns fat off your body and the high protein diet feeds your muscles. This makes the Body-for-Life program far more than your average weight loss program. You will experience fat loss at an impressive rate and replace that fat with muscle.
You are essentially working things from two sides, from the outside in (the fat loss), and from the inside out (the muscle growth). A great physique occurs when the two meet, when the muscles develop to a point where they break through the remaining fat layers to see the light of day!
But a great physique is merely the icing on the cake. This program has a dramatic effect on your metabolism, and you will find yourself making it through the day with more energy than before.
You will find that your metabolism is strong enough to withstand the once weekly free day without missing a beat from a weight loss point of view, although if you truly over-indulge on your free day you will still find you don’t feel as good as the days when you are eating “clean”.
This can be a revelation for some people, since the free day style of eating was simply business as usual before starting the program. The trick is realizing this, and not focusing on how bad you feel after an over-exuberant free day.
Stay focused instead on the fact that you are truly experiencing something special the other 6 days of the week. That “special something” is what some like to call a “healthy lifestyle”.
It is in this moment that you can see clearly what these words really mean. Rejoice in the fact that your body is becoming healthy enough to distinguish between food that nourishes and food that simply taxes your system.
So by all means eat some of your Mom’s apple pie on your free day, just don’t eat the whole pie! If you are like most people, you will over-indulge your first few times. Then, as this revelation begins to sink in, you will progress naturally toward a more moderate approach.
Getting through the other six days eating “clean”, which is to say eating according to the rules laid out above, takes some planning. Body-for-Life author Bill Phillips places a lot of emphasis on planning. This is especially important when it comes to your Body-for-Life Diet.
If weight loss is your goal, then you simply cannot wait until you are hungry to decide what to eat. Choosing not to eat that double cheese pepperoni pizza is far too much to ask of yourself if you are hungry and that’s all that is available in that moment. Take it easy on yourself, spend some time on the weekend planning your meals for the following week, and give yourself a fighting chance to succeed!
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