Sometimes, decay appears to be an unavoidable fact of life, particularly if you look in a full-length mirror after staying away from the gym for three months or more. In addition to having lost muscle tone, you will likely have piled on a few more pounds than you realized. It’s time to face one unpleasant fact: If you want to get back into shape, you’ll have to do more than return to the gym. You’ll also have to start watching what you eat.
Luckily, the combination of exercise and good nutrition can get you back in shape before you know it. Just make it a point to:
- Start thinking of fast food as poison. Given its overload of salt, fats and calories, this might not be far from the truth.
- Make brown-bagging a habit. Pack a high-protein chicken or turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard rather than mayonnaise. Throw in an apple or banana as well in case you’re in need of a snack. This type of lunch will leave you feeling slim and energetic, unlike that greasy burger that was never your friend in the first place.
- Refrain from skipping meals. The practice will only lead to binging later. Instead, put yourself on a three-meal-a-day schedule with morning and afternoon snacks of fruit or yogurt in between. This will help you lose weight while putting the brakes on potential hunger pains.
- Just say no to french fries. You’re better off with a salad instead. Just be sure to ask for the dressing on the side, and remember: Eating food from your dinner partner’s plate will pile on the calories just as fast even if your friend is paying for them.
- Concentrate on working those abdominals. A focus on strengthening this region will do more than just beef up the muscles. It will also serve as a reminder to keep them in shape by eating right and avoiding fattening foods.
- Stop drinking soda altogether.
If you want to get the most from your workout routine, good habits of nutrition can do more than just improve your performance. They will also assist in keeping muscle damage to a minimum. The vital macronutrients to keep in mind are carbohydrates, proteins and fat.
The Importance of Carbohydrates to Your Workout Routine
When your body needs fuel, it will always look to get it first from any carbohydrates you have eaten. Carbs provide the glucose that your muscles require, and this becomes particularly important to anyone whose workouts tend to be short and intense. Your muscles are not very good at storing glycogen, and once your body has used it up, their ability to function will suffer. Fortunately, the carbs you have eaten will come to the rescue by providing immediate fuel while boosting your body’s ability to store and utilize glycogen.
Top-class athletes in training will often engage in the time-honored practice of carb-loading. The technique consists of eating a high-carbohydrate diet for one to seven days before an important event and will maximize your body’s ability to make use of its glycogen stores.
Protein and Your Athletic Prowess
The consumption of proteins before a workout will improve your subsequent performance. Whether you eat this nutrient alone or combine it with carbohydrates, its presence will increase the ability of your muscles to do their job.
Eating protein prior to your workout will:
- Enhance muscle development.
- Shorten your recovery time.
- Enhance strength and performance.
- Foster the growth of lean body mass.
The Role of Fats in a Workout Regimen
When your choice of exercise leans toward longer workouts of moderate intensity, your body turns from carbs to fat in its never-ending search for fuel. While carbs will help your body to make the most of its glycogen stores during short and fast workouts, fats help it endure during less-intense exercise that is longer in duration. However, fats will serve you better when consumed on a regular basis over time rather than just before you engage in exercise.
Eating Before and After Workouts
If your upcoming workout will consist of biking, running, swimming or anything else that’s bound to boost your heartrate, do yourself a favor and have a small snack before starting out. Your body will need this for energy.
On the other hand, if you plan to engage in weight-lifting or high-rep calisthenics, you’ll need to add some protein to your pre-workout snack. This type of exercise will break down the muscles to some extent, and you’ll need that protein to help them rebuild.
Once you’ve finished working out, feed yourself again. A sports drink combined with some high-protein snack will help you regain energy by replacing the carbs and electrolytes that your body has expended.
For more information, speak to one of our personal trainers!