This week's blog focuses on the proper nutrition we need to get the most out of our training.
We go to the gym to get fitter, stronger, and leaner and to look better but does this actually occur when we work out? The answer is, to a degree, no. We hit the gym to stimulate body composition changes but It’s actually outside the gym that these changes take place through proper nutrition and sufficient rest. The training end of things is the relatively easy part. Getting to the gym and focusing on why you’re there is simple. You’ve no distractions, you grab your music, check your programme and away you go. 1 hour or so of not having to think about anything else other than working out. The hard part is the 23 other hours in the day when your job, family and other factors like tiredness, stress and being out and about can hinder good food choices. Stress causes us to reach out for sugary foods as well as hindering a good night’s sleep, which in turn leads to more stress, which leads to increased body-fat levels!
Training in the gym makes up about 20-40% of the effort to change your body composition. Outside of the gym is when we actually become fitter or when our muscle mass actually grows. If we’ve not supplied our bodies with the right number of proper nutrients and rest, then this won’t happen. All macro-nutrients (carbs, protein and fat) can be used for energy, help with satiety (that feeling of fullness) and are broken down at different rates. Carbs are quickly digested and turned into glucose and is the primary fuel for the body. Protein and fat take longer to digest and produce energy at a more gradual rate. So, what should you be eating and in what amounts? This is the holy grail of all the questions I’m asked as a trainer and the honest answer is… there is no right answer! Age, gender, genetics, body composition, goals and training specifics all contribute to deciding what’s best for you for maximum results.
People, mainly girls, but I’m also seeing a sharp rise in guys doing this, all too often revert to dieting when they’re training to get into shape. This simply won’t happen. Why would you engage in extra physical activity and at the same time, reduce the food needed to perform these activities? Your body needs fuel to train, grow, lean out etc., so depriving it of what’s needed will hinder not only performance but also progress and results. When you’re in a kcal deficit, you will initially lose some weight, primarily water, but your body soon cops on to what you’re doing and holds on to fat to feed itself. Look at the average female physique bodybuilder. These are the beach bodies you see on the cover of fitness magazines. These girls don’t diet. Yes, they are really careful with their food, but if you counted up their kcals, you’d see that they probably eat more than you and I. When it comes to guys wanting to get lean but also put on some mass it totally perplexes me why they think that they can achieve this without eating more (but good) food.
Carbs are best kept to post-training; you have to deserve them. Fats, a small amount, should be eaten with all meals and plenty of good quality protein should be consumed to aid in recovery and lean mass growth. Obviously the amount of food depends on what your goal is but in general the above rings true for most people. Make your plate colourful. Yes, we advise eating plenty of green veg for fibre, but there’s nothing wrong with having different colours on your plate. Bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and beetroot along with some lean protein is an ideal way to get all your vitamins in at the same time.
Try to eat little but often, 4-6 small meals are ideal. It reduces the risk of an insulin spike and also keeps the sugar cravings at bay. If you go too long without eating you can get headaches, cramps, dizzy and nauseous. You will also crave sugar to beat the pangs. A content belly is a happy belly. Go for foods in season, this is when their at their most vitamin rich. Go for foods as close to their natural state as possible. The general rule is if you can pick it up in your hands in the shop its food. If it comes in nice fancy packaging it’s a product. Products tend to have a long shelf life and this can be down to the fact that their riddled in preservatives. It also means they can be made in bulk with cheaper ingredients with less expense to the manufacturer.
So, eat smart. Make the majority of your food healthy, have that odd little treat and see positive changes for life!
Louise Kavanagh - Spencer Health Club Manager