The 10 Best Science-Backed Lifestyle Changes To Make 2022 Your Best Year Yet
Make 2022 your year for maximizing your health!
When January first rolls around, the season of excess quickly transforms to a season of new expectations – more than 40% of Americans report making New Year’s resolutions. But 80% of those people are no longer following them by the first week of February.
So let’s make it a little easier on ourselves. Below are ten of the most effective and most actionable tips for health and fitness that will help boost your self-improvement goals, without leading to early burnout. They’re my condensed cliff notes from many of the world’s leading strength, conditioning, and nutrition coaches over the past year.
1. Carbohydrates Aren’t (Always) The Enemy
Contrary to what some would have you believe, carbs aren’t always evil, but they do need to be regulated based on individual goals, digestive health, and activity levels. While a high-level athlete training twice a day needs adequate glycogen replenishment through carbohydrate intake, a desk-jockey’s carb intake should be minimal. Generally, the acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges are 40–60% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats, and 10–35% from protein – though most people should aim for the lower end of the range for carbohydrates.
A study published in the BMJ found that those who limited their carb intake to 20% of their daily calories burned 247 calories more than those with a 60% carbohydrate ratio. People with higher insulin responses had even more extreme differences – as high as 478 extra calories burned when on a low carb diet vs. a high carb diet.
2. Gram For Gram, Whey Protein Is Nearly 2x Effective As Plant Protein
New research from the journal Nutrients shows that for muscle growth and maintenance, 35g of whey protein is as effective as 60g of wheat protein – that’s nearly twice the bang for your buck!
Why? The chemical structure of animal protein is more digestible than plant-based protein and is generally easier for our bodies to break down, leading to better absorption. Additionally, unlike animal protein, plant-based proteins lack a variety of essential amino acids – the basic building block of proteins. Muscle growth isn’t nearly as effective if you’re not absorbing the complete spectrum of essential amino acids.
3. Workout Programming: Follow the Law of 72 Hours & Rotate Exercises
Muscles need 72 hours to recover after a heavy, taxing workout. You can’t train similar motor patterns within three days and give it your all, so split your workouts appropriately. 95% of gym-goers will do best by limiting themselves to four main heavy lifting workouts per week, saving the remaining days for accessory exercises or cardio.
Having a big library of exercises helps overall performance and prevents injuries by allowing you to choose accessory work that addresses weaknesses. Don’t know where to start or looking to change up your current workout program? Check out our free Ascent Gym Essentials workout programs, six of the most popular, evidence-based, spine-and-extremity-safe workouts I give to my patients.
4. Get To Bed Between 10 and 11pm & Sleep 7½ Hours Per Night
Sleep is the greatest anabolic activity; it’s absolutely necessary for muscle growth, fat loss, and hormone regulation. But when should you get to bed and how long should you stay there?
In November, the team behind the UK Biobank published the results of a long-term study of 88,000 volunteers that suggest the optimal bedtime is between 10pm and 11pm. People who went to bed later or earlier than this ideal bedtime had a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and hypertension.
An extensive study from Sleep recently explored the effects of sleep duration on intelligence (specifically, short-term memory, reasoning, spatial working and planning). They found that the optimal nightly sleep duration was 7.4 hours. Sleeping more than 8 hours or less than 6.2 hours per night – even for a single night – significantly affected intelligence scores.
5. Warming Up Before a Workout: Stretching & Cardio Are a Waste Of Time
Stretching before a workout is useless, and cranking out cardio on a treadmill before lifting actually reduces insulin sensitivity by 46%, inhibiting muscle growth and fat-loss. That said, you still need cardio, just do it at the end of your workout. Cardio should alternate between short low intensity (<120 bpm) sessions, which helps heart health and recovery, and higher intensity 1-3 minute bursts of resistance exercise (HIIT), which increases strength and helps burn fat.
The better warm-up option for preventing injury while improving form and strength? Do ‘potentiation’ exercises before your main lifts – isolate each muscle group involved in the main lift, choose a relatively light weight, and rotate 3 sets of 25 of each with no rest. For example, if the squat is your main compound lift in your workout, choose exercises that isolate each of the upper back, lower back and hamstrings for 3×25 without rest. Then attack the main lift.
6. Take A Brisk Walk After You Eat A Meal (Seriously)
A ten minute walk after eating improves digestion, decreases delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and helps with insulin sensitivity. But don’t by lazy – brisk 10-minute walks with an elevated heart rate far outperform leisurely 10k-step walks for fat-burning and cardiovascular-helping benefits. Most strength and conditioning experts agree that you can totally replace steady-state cardio with short walks and HIIT.
Recent studies have also shown that short brisk walks improve enthusiasm, relaxation, and reduce nervousness at work, encourage creativity, and help with focus. Furthermore, research published in the journal Neurology found that people who walked daily preserved significantly more of their gray matter, and therefore cognitive function, than those who didn’t.
7. You’re Stronger After Chiropractic Care
Surprised? Research has shown that spinal manipulation increases maximum voluntary muscle contraction for 30 minutes and elevates cortical spinal excitability for at least 60 minutes. Chiropractic care has long-term results as well, with studies showing that athletes under chiropractic care for a 14-week trial period showed significant improvement in muscle strength, long jump distance and capillary blood counts.
A separate study found that athletes treated weekly for 12 weeks by a chiropractor showed a combined 16.7% improvement in agility, kinesthetic perception, power and reaction time compared to those not under chiropractic care.
8. Build Your Backside
For most people, if a muscle is on your backside, it’s probably weaker than it should be. The average American has weak lats, hamstrings, glutes, calves, traps, and rear deltoids – and it’s a major reason for our epidemic-levels of chronic low back pain. Build those up by making them a priority in your accessory exercise selection and you’ll see the results everywhere else.
What do I mean by that? For example, strengthening your latissimus dorsi/rhomboids with lat pulldowns and rows improves scapular position, leading to better pec recruitment and power on the bench press.
9. Increase Your Salt Intake Before Intense Workouts
Iodized salt stimulates the thyroid, immune system and the liver. When you ‘hit the wall’ in the gym, it’s far more likely because you’re low on sodium, not carbs. The single biggest thing you can do to impact stamina and endurance at the gym is increase your intake of iodized sodium.
10. Post-Workout Nutrition: Carbs, Not Protein
Your body super-compensates after a workout, so you need immediate replenishment of glucose and electrolytes. The optimum post-workout nutrition contains fructose (fruit juice) for stimulating your liver, dextrose (sugar) for glycogen replenishment, sodium for replenishing electrolytes, and caffeine for accelerating their absorption.
A high protein and fat meal should be consumed up to 6 hours before a workout, but not immediately after, as they slow absorption. Rule of thumb: protein and fat before your workout, carbs after.
*Note: If you’re diabetic or have blood sugar problems, your body plays by a different set of rules. Check with your doctor and nutritionist before making changes to your diet.
The Ascent Chiropractic Difference
Whether you’re a pro athlete or weekend warrior, study after study shows that regular chiropractic care is an essential part of both recovery and reaching your full potential as an athlete.
We’ve experienced the high-volume chiropractic and therapy clinics where you’re treated like a number, clinics where they sign you up for 40 appointments where they perform the exact same adjustment each time without ever actually getting results. At Ascent Chiropractic we’re different; we’re not salespeople pushing a one-size-fits-all treatment at our office. We believe your doctor should be your teammate, and work with you to specifically address what’s going on in your body.
Ready to perform at your peak and make 2022 your best year yet? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.