Whatever physical activity you do your body relies heavily on the nutrition you provide for it. It’s a no brainer really, I mean have you ever tried working out on a ridiculously empty stomach? I have and let me tell you… it doesn’t get you very far!
In order to get the best out of your workout and not to mention, a healthy lifestyle, you need to be supplying your body with the correct nutrients regularly throughout the day as well as ensuring you get in some food before you workout and after. Fuelling your body correctly can seriously improve your energy levels, decrease stress levels, keep your heart healthy and increase the chance of sleep – all of which affect your fitness levels and progress.
When looking at my nutrition I make sure I live a 80/20 lifestyle. I ensure I eat healthy throughout the week, getting in my protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, water intake and vitamins and minerals. However, when it comes to the weekend I like to relax my diet a little. Sure, I still eat healthy but if it comes to the evening and i’m craving a big fat pizza then you can sure as hell bet that i’ll eat it all! Life is about balance and if you’re serious about committing to a healthy lifestyle then you need to make sure your diet is healthy and balanced. Work hard and play hard too!
If you’re new to this ‘eating healthy’ malarkey then you may believe the big bad myth of ‘carbs are bad for you’. Well let me say this: carbs should be your best friend – in moderation, of course.
Carbohydrates help to provide the essential energy that your muscles need to perform. The carbs you eat pre workout and from during the day not only burn as fuel (think of it as a car) but also accumulate in your muscle tissue and liver as glycogen (a storage form of starch that your muscles rely on during your workouts).
You should aim to get in carbs post workout too in order to help re-nourish your muscles which allow them to recover and build.
My favourite carbs are: Veg, fruit (although I don’t count veg as a carb if I macro count), beans, brown rice, oats, rye bread, buckwheat, quinoa, bulgar wheat.
Protein is crucial not in everyday life but also in building muscle fibres and repairing tissue that is damaged during your workout. After that ‘toned’ look? Well then girl, get in your protein!
Getting in the correct amount of protein daily (2 grams for each kilogram you weight) allows the muscle to increase and in turn this leads to increased progress. By eating enough protein daily you’ll soon be growing/maintaing muscle (depends on your goals) and hitting personal bests – aka, increasing your weights and stamina in the gym!
My favourite sources of protein are: Chicken, pork, red meat (once a week), fish, protein drinks, beans and yoghurts.
This one is often left out when people consider the most important nutrients however, healthy fats should be a crucial part of your diet.
Whether you like the word ‘fat’ or not, fats help provide your body with energy and vitamins A, D E and K. Not to mention the fact that fats play an essential role in brain development, blood clothing and inflammation.
The importance of fat for our body is so that it can rely on the fat to make essential fatty acids which our body cannot make itself. Fat is an extremley powerful energy source and has more than twice as much energy as protein and carbohydrates. Plus, at times our body relies on it’s fat storage for energy when our carbohydrate storage is quickly burned.
However, not all fats are particularly good which is why I use the term ‘healthy fats’ above. Fats come in three classes:
Saturated fats – Usually found in animals products and increase bad cholesterol.
Transaturated fats – Often found in fried foods. This fat is formed when vegetable oil hardens – not exactly healthy nor natural.
Unsaturated fats – Found in nuts, olive oil (don’t fear it!) and fish, to name a few. This one is your ‘healthy fats’. Aka, the good guy.
My favourite healthy fats are: Nuts (particularly almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts), avocado, peanut/almond butter, mackerel, salmon, olive oil and eggs.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout you’ll need to make sure that you’re well hydrated before and during. I must go through a pint and half during my workout and I always chug back at least half a pint or more beforehand.
Seeing as we’re made up of 60% of water, we need to ensure that when we lose water sweating and panting that we replace it quickly to help our body perform at it’s best level. Water actually acts as a lubricant for our muscles, joint and vital organs and because of this it’s necessary to have energy for our workouts because it is the supplier of oxygen and glucose throughout the body.
Not to mention we also need water for strength, flexibility and brain needs. So kids, drink up your water – it’s important.
Vitamins and minerals
Again, another pair of nutrients that can often be overlooked at when considering the essentials for your diet.
Vitamins and minerals should be an essential to your daily diet to help maximise your performance, strength and help decrease the chances of injury. Thiamin, vitamin C, sodium and iron can help in correcting deficiencies that interfere with your fitness goals.
Your metabolism is also heavily dependant on micronutrients as well as macronutrients (your proteins, fats and carbs). The vitamins and minerals act as essential needs for your energy levels and reproduction. For example, your energy cells are at risk if you have a low or high dietary intake of vitamin B.
I always make sure to get in my vitamins and minerals from basic fruit, veg and meat. However, I do also take cod liver oil tablets daily along with my multivitamins.
So there you have it… You’re nutrition plays a massive part in your workout. Like I said earlier, think of your body as a car. Without the right amount of protein, healthy fats, carbs, water, vitamins and nutrients your body will start to struggle in different areas, whether that be from low energy, aching joints, sore muscles or headaches (from lack of water or injuries.
To ensure I get the best out of my workouts I always make sure that I:
• Hydrate before, during and after my workout. I aim to drink at least 8 pints a day.
• I workout fasted in the mornings however, I always fuel my body the night before with carbs and protein. Although, you should always listen to your body and if you’re lacking energy before a workout then squeeze in a banana or some dates.
• Get in my protein after my workouts
• Ensure I hit my protein levels daily
• Listen to my body. Feeling tired? It may be you’re body telling you to eat something!
• Get in 6 meals a snack. 3 main meals, 3 small snacks.
• Take my vitamins and get in essential minerals from veg and fruit.
• Take a much needed rest day every week!