Most people are aware of the fact that although they can do as much intense exercise as they want, if they don’t accompany their workout routines with appropriate nutrition, they probably won’t see any improvements in their fitness in the long run.
This is because nutrition is just as important – if not perhaps more important – as the actual exercise you do at the gym. In this article I want to help you get the most from your gym workouts by sharing the best knowledge I have about a healthy diet and nutrition.
I am writing this article for the widest possible audience, which is why I have decided to split it into three separate sections:
1.The first section is for those who are interested in losing weight and decreasing their body fat levels.
2. The second section is for those who are generally interested in becoming more fit.
3. The third and last section is for those explicitly interested in gaining and building muscle.
Nutrition and Weight Loss
As mentioned in the introduction, you can do as much physical exercise as you like, but if it is not coupled with proper nutrition, depending on what your goal is, you likely won’t get very far.
This may be particularly true for people who are trying to lose weight. The first piece of advice I have for people in this category is to increase your daily protein intake.
Some studies have found that by regularly consuming protein-rich foods throughout the day, you may feel more full and will subsequently be less likely to snack on carbohydrates and fats.
Furthermore, by increasing your protein levels you will also boost your metabolism, which will help you burn more calories throughout the day. This is because the body requires more energy to digest protein compared to other nutrients such as fats and carbs.
In terms of possible diets that you can embark on, there are a number of options that you may be interested in:
- 5:2 diet. This diet is based on the concept of intermittent fasting wherein you eat normally for five days and fast for two days. A 2013 study found that people on the 5:2 diet lost more or less the same amount of weight as those on the Mediterranean diet.
The main benefit of this diet is that the two days of fasting are effective in reducing overall fat levels. The main drawback lies in the fact that fasting, if not done properly, may unbalance your nutrition levels and your daily life may be affected.
- Dunkan diet. The Dunkan diet is a low carb, high protein diet designed for individuals who intend to lose weight fairly quickly.
It is quite strict and follows different stages, which may require quite a bit of discipline in order to get right.
The main benefit lies in the weight loss; the main drawback is that at the beginning of the diet you may feel unwell following the drastic reduction in carb consumption you will undergo.
Nutrition and Fitness
By now you probably grasped the principle that protein is one of the most essential nutrients for the human body – this applies to everyone, people who want to lose weight, people who want to get ripped, and people who are simply looking to become fit.
So, if your objective is to generally become more fit, the first thing you should do is look at your protein consumption and establish whether you are getting appropriate amounts of this nutrient from healthy food sources.
Besides this, I have three main pieces of nutrition advice for people looking to become more physically fit:
1.Learn how to cook. By learning how to cook your own meals, you will become more disciplined with your eating habits and, over time, will notice that you are heating in a much healthier way.
2. Consume protein-rich food in small amounts throughout the day. This is very useful in relation to the point I made earlier regarding protein and its effects on your appetite and fat loss.
3. Cut back on refined carbohydrates. Unfortunately for our taste buds, not all carbohydrates are created equal. While you don’t necessarily need to completely cut carbs from your diet, cutting the refined version will undoubtedly help you reach your fitness goals.
This is because refined carbohydrates are fundamentally detrimental to your fitness goals: refined carbs have been stripped of almost all vitamins, minerals and fibres, making them essentially empty calories.
Furthermore, they are digested very quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels after eating, which is associated with a number of negative health conditions.
Nutrition and Muscle Building
Lastly, let’s turn our attention to nutrition in relation to building muscle. In relation to this group, I have three main pieces of nutrition advice:
1.Protein, protein, protein. Yes, the rule still applies, and perhaps applies most importantly for people who want to build muscle. Protein plays an essential role in muscle-building (your muscles are essentially made of protein) and, perhaps most importantly, in muscle repair.
You may be interested in looking into protein supplements to go hand in hand with your workouts – there are many different types from different food sources and I am confident that you can find something that suits you out there, as protein powders are quickly becoming more and more popular.
2. Get enough calories. If you want to build muscle, you are going to be gaining weight; and if you want to gain weight you are going to have to consume more calories than you burn daily!
You should generally aim to consume a minimum of 20 calories per pound of your body weight.
Many people don’t think about this and worry about gaining ‘fat weight’ – but if you are putting in the exercise, this should not worry you!
3. Fat is not necessarily bad. You probably heard the myth that fat is unequivocally bad for you a number of times. Fat is actually a considerably important part of our diet – particularly when wanting to build muscle – and should make up about 30% of your daily calorie intake.
The best types of fats are polyunsaturated and monosaturated!
Ultimately, nutrition is just as important as exercise when it comes to getting fit – whether you want to lose weight, become fitter or be a body builder, you simply cannot ignore what goes into your body – you are what you eat, after all! I hope this article was useful and that you can use this information to reach your fitness goals.