Whatever your workout goals, it’s important to keep in mind that the time we spend exercising is only part of the equation for our physical fitness. It’s impossible to ignore diet and nutrition and the very important element that what we eat plays into our fitness goals.
We give ourselves our best opportunity to get in shape when we appropriately pair our diet with how we work out. So let’s see if your diet complements your workout plan…
The first step to this is to know what you want to gain (or lose) from your exercise plan. This will help you know your goals and plan your meals and workouts accordingly.
• Are you training for something?
• Do you need to gain body mass in the form of muscle?
• Are you intending to lose weight or gain more tone?
Knowing your goals helps to narrow down the kind of diet needed to reach those goals.
Generally, people who work out tend to fall into two camps that determine their nutritional and dietary needs: losing weight and gaining muscle.
While both of these goals may have similar base nutritional needs, they require two different dietary mentalities.
Tailoring your Diet to Gain Muscle
When working out to build muscle, your diet will require a calorie surplus. This simply means that you will need to consume more calories than you burn throughout the day and during exercise.
Protein will be converted into muscles, while carbohydrates will give you the energy needed to build strength.
Without a surplus, you will have nothing to convert into muscle during and after your workouts.
Tailoring a Diet that Helps to Lose Weight
If your primary goal from your exercises is to lose fat, you need to have a caloric deficit. That means that each day you need to burn more calories than you consume.
In some cases, this may mean restricting how many calories you consume. Preparing and eating quality, whole foods will help you to feel more full and satisfied from what you eat.
Ultimately, achieving weight loss all comes down to calories in versus calories out. If, however, while you’re exercising, you’re also interested in converting muscle or toning and defining, then nutrition remains a very important dietary consideration.
How to Eat When Working Out
It’s important to supply your body with the right kind of energy that it can use efficiently during the workout.
Meals before and after workouts should contain both protein and carbohydrates. This will not only give you the energy for peak performance during the workout, but it will also make sure that your body has enough protein to convert into muscles.
Pay Attention to Your Macronutrients
Converting muscle and losing weight requires meals that are made up of three basic groups, often referred to as macronutrients: high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and poly-unsaturated fats.
Protein synthesis for muscle-building requires high amino acid consistency in the blood as well as vitamins and minerals. These amino acids come from the high-quality proteins that we eat.
The best high-quality proteins for working out come from both plant and animal sources. If you don’t eat animals, you can still obtain enough plant-based protein but you will need to pay additional attention to your diet in order to do so.
Fitness goals are intersectional, so it’s important to keep track of how your nutritional decisions impact your other life goals. For example, the more high-quality plant sources you choose over animal sources, such as red meat, the more environmentally friendly your diet is likely to be. Additionally, an increasing number of health professionals suggest a plant-based diet as the best for your health
When looking for high-quality proteins for building muscle, we can’t overstate how useful and versatile eggs can be. Also look toward lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, legumes, and soybean products.
While sometimes demonised as the food group to stay away from, high-quality carbohydrates have an important place in the diet of people who exercise.
If you consume more carbohydrates than you are likely to use as energy throughout the day and for exercising, these excess carbs will convert to glucose and become stored as body fat.
However, carbohydrates also have the important job of providing energy to muscles and helping you feel sated.
When it comes to determining high-quality carbohydrates, look for whole grains and other foods that provide slow, steady amounts of energy throughout the day. These are known as foods with a low glycaemic index. For example, sweet potatoes have a GI of 50 as opposed to baked potatoes with a GI of 83.
Fats or Lipids
Healthy fats are generally known as unsaturated fats and are a necessary part of the diet, as they provide calories and fatty acids for energy. They also help to reduce inflammation, which facilitates healing. Some of the best fats are flax oil, coconut and avocado oil, olive oil and the fats found in oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, as well as avocados and nuts.
Keep in mind, however, that even healthy fats should be limited in your diet because they do pack a lot of calories.
No matter what your workout goals are, hydration is essential to having your body remain healthy and functioning.
Your body requires hydration to regenerate and strengthen, before and after exercise and each and every day.
You should attempt to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. Furthermore, on workout days, try to drink an additional litre to replenish any fluids lost during the exercise.
Avoid consuming commercial energy drinks which invariably contain high levels of sugar and caffeine..
At the end of the workout, your body is working hard to convert what you eat into energy and muscle. The best way to ensure its success is to feed it high-quality foods that will help provide you with the energy to work out and grow strong every day. Pay close attention to your habits, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your goals
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