Calisthenics is a form of exercise dating back to Greek times, with its name meaning beauty (kalos) and strength (sthenos). It utilizes your body weight and inertia to exercise and build a stronger body. It may sound like something fancy and exotic, but many of us are familiar with the exercises practiced in calisthenics. Sit-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, and much more “no equipment” exercises fall into the category of calisthenics because you are using your body and principles of physics to make yourself stronger.
Calisthenics is often practiced today in street workouts and physical education classes. Additionally, the military and sports teams will often practice calisthenics as a group. It is a very efficient method of body weight training, and because it requires no equipment, it is highly convenient for those who can’t afford gym equipment or membership.
Dieting for Calisthenics: Why Dairy is Essential
Depending on your goals for your calisthenics training, there are many different options for dieting. If you are practicing calisthenics more casually, eating a balanced diet, every day should be sufficient to keep you going. A balanced diet consists of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and some dairy. To be healthy, most of your daily caloric intake should be from these food groups. You should also be reducing your salt intake and increasing how much water you drink. For someone practicing calisthenics casually, a balanced diet plus a little extra protein should be fine. Good sources of protein include fish, eggs, and lean cuts of meat.
However, for someone practicing a more intensive training program with calisthenics, a change in diet is needed. Firstly, to fuel your calisthenics workouts, you’ll need to take in more calories to burn. In general, this means eating foods with more calories or eating more food in general. For a sedentary man between the ages of 14 and 30, anywhere from 2,000 to 2,600 calories per day is sufficient (depending on the person). For a sedentary woman, the numbers are 1,800 to 2,000. However, caloric needs drastically increase for active men and women. An active man between 14 and 30 needs 2,800 to 3,000 calories, while an active woman between the same ages needs 2,400 calories.
Calisthenics is a program designed to train body strength, endurance, and flexibility. Much like bodybuilding, it sculpts the body so that it is more defined and leaner as you practice it. For this reason, protein is as necessary for calisthenics as for bodybuilding. Protein helps build up and repair muscle tissue. However, if you don’t want to inject a bunch of meat into your diet for protein, dairy is an excellent option for adding in the additional protein and calories needed for intensive training.
Dairy is already an essential part of a balanced diet – milk contains vitamins and nutrients such as protein, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and small amounts of many other vitamins. In short, dairy is a vitamin powerhouse, but of those nutrients, calcium is paramount for anyone practicing calisthenics. Calcium helps build stronger bones, and for an exercise program that uses only your body, stronger bones are vital. Not only that, but a cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein – in comparison, a large egg has 6 grams of protein, and eggs are hugely popular among athletes as a source of protein. A cup of milk also provides about 100 calories, so for someone trying to increase their caloric intake for fuel, it provides a solid portion of those extra calories.
Milk is not the only thing that provides a ton of protein and vitamins, however. Another option for incorporating dairy into your calisthenics training diet is yogurt. A cup of nonfat Greek yogurt contains 17 grams of protein, with some brands boasting even more. Greek yogurt also contains about 100 calories, and it comes in many different flavors, so you don’t have to feel like you’re sacrificing great taste for a diet. Cottage cheese is also another healthy dairy product that can provide many of these nutrients.
While many people tout the reasons that dairy may be unhealthy, when eaten in moderation and alongside a healthy training program like calisthenics, dairy is quite essential to nutrition. The key to choosing dairy products is simply choosing low-fat and tailoring your daily intake to your needs. For calisthenics training especially, the protein and calcium that dairy provides are indispensable. For beginners to moderate athletes, you can begin with an online course like this street workout training: program for beginners. It will shave months or years of your learning curve while ensuring solid foundations of calisthenics.