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The StrongLifts' Eight Simple Rules

By Michele M. Howard

A 5X5 workout, five sets of five repetitions of specific exercises, is a systematic strength training program designed to build muscle mass, burn fat and lose weight. Mehdi Hadim, author and creator of the website StrongLifts, outlines this workout in conjunction with a specific diet plan. He stresses eight nutritional rules to help you be successful in a 5x5 workout program.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

By starting out your day with a good breakfast, you will be less hungry and less likely to snack throughout the day. The StrongLifts diet suggests that you stay away from carbohydrates such as cereals for breakfast. Vegetable omelets with feta cheese and spices, cottage cheese with fruit and chopped nuts, or a fruit smoothie with whey are all good options for your breakfast.

Eat Every Three Hours

This diet recommends that you eat smaller meals every three hours. A suggested meal schedule might be breakfast, lunch, dinner, after your workout and before bedtime, with two snacks in between. Going longer between meals may cause you to overeat to satisfy your hunger. Suggestions for snacks are nuts, carrots or fruit with low-fat yogurt.

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Include Protein in Every Meal

Building muscles and losing fat requires protein, and in the StrongLifts diet you should have 1 g for every 1 lb. you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., eat 150 g of protein each day. Sources of protein include beef, pork, chicken, tuna, salmon, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. If you are a vegetarian, you can get your daily intake from beans, peas, peanut butter, nuts, pumpkin seeds, soy milk, whole grains, vegetables and protein powder.

Include Fruits and Vegetables in Every Meal

In addition to being low in calories, fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Many help prevent heart and eye diseases and bone and muscle loss. Because they are low in calories, the risk of gaining weight from eating large quantities is slim.

Eat Carbohydrates after Workouts

The StrongLifts diet calls for eating only one portion of carbohydrates, and that it be after your workout. However, if you are thin and trying to gain weight, you eat twice as many carbs after working out. Carbohydrate options include pasta, potatoes, bread and rice. Substitute whole grains for white-flour starches.

Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats improve fat loss and should be included in your meals, StrongLifts says. Avoid artificial trans-fats. Your daily intake of food should balance saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats are found in red meats, butter and eggs. The American Heart Association states that monounsaturated fats help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Examples of foods high in these fats are extra virgin olive oil, avocados and mixed nuts. Foods high in polyunsaturated fats include mixed nuts and fatty fish such as salmon and trout.

Drink Water

You need to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Suggested intake is 1 cup of water when you first wake up, 2 cups with each of your meals and several sips during your workouts. Water on an empty stomach keeps you from feeling hungry and wanting to snack. An acceptable substitute for water is green tea.

Eat Whole Foods

Whole foods are unprocessed and have no added sugar, trans fats or other artificial chemicals. They are fresh and as close as possible to their original state. Examples include fresh meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruits. This StrongLifts diet plan suggests you eat whole foods 90 percent of the time. If you limit your intake of sugary sodas, alcohol and processed junk food to 10 percent of the time, in a week when you eat seven small meals a day, you could have five junk-food meals.

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