I ask my clients everyday how there off-session fitness and nutrition programs are going. The answers I get range from; My schedule is busy. It takes too long to meal prep. I have to cook for four people, so cooking for myself too is hard. I don’t know what to eat. Aren’t three workouts enough? I have to eat based on my workouts and activity each day? Won’t my workouts make me lose weight by themselves? I could go on and on here…
Too often, fitness and nutrition are treated as two totally separate aspects of my client’s lifestyle. Most focus primarily on the exercise aspect (burning calories) with little to no thought about what they consume (calories taken in). These two components need to be in sync for you to receive your desired results, that will last. Some use exercise to allow them to eat whatever they want, and the thought process should be redirected to, ‘I eat healthy so I can exercise how I want.’ Food is fuel for our workouts and what is needed to recover so you can do it all over again efficiently.
Some days I see my clients dragging and ask why their performance is less than usual. I hear, I was busy today and skipped lunch. Food must be thought of in the same way as we need gas for our cars. They won’t perform if they don’t have fuel. Our bodies will do the same and maybe to the extent that you sacrifice good lean muscle tissue for fuel as we become catabolic. Not eating for your workouts will create low energy, lack of motivation, and inability to complete basic workout progressions. Not only is this bad physically, mentally it may throw a stick in your wheel of progress, causing frustration and sometimes failure to stick to your program.
Always plan ahead! Make sure you always have healthy snacks, bars, nuts, Ziplocs of protein powder, etc. A healthy balanced snack should be consumed 60-120 minutes before your workout session to provide adequate time for digestion and the conversion of fuel to energize your session. A good example of a healthy snack includes protein and carbohydrates. Maybe a protein shake and piece of fruit (banana, pear, apple, berries). A quality protein bar, yogurt with berries, nuts. For those that workout first thing, maybe a simple scoop of protein with almond or milk-alternative of choice early enough so it starts to get absorbed. Try not to eat too close and something too heavy right before your workout. You are just asking for additional problems =)
Another thing to always keep in mind when coupling these two components, keep a log to note your journey, feelings, issues that arise, and your performance. I ask clients to do this so they can see how certain food items affected their workouts, performance, and recovery. If you don’t track your food, you will never know what works best for YOU and what doesn’t. Sometimes the best workout sessions are based upon what you ate the previous day, that day, along with other factors in your life like sleep. That is another topic for another day.
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