Welcome to another installment of Why Your Workout Isn’t Working – our guide to helping you make the most out of your workouts. Hopefully you’ve followed along these last few weeks and have learned some valuable strategies for planning to succeed in your fitness and health endeavors. That means you’ve learned to set realistic goals, have chosen the right forms of exercise to attain them, been consistent with a regular exercise regimen, exercised with sufficient intensity to create a stimulus, and as we discussed last week, you understand the importance of rest and recuperation.
But to truly maximize your health and fitness potential you must also provide adequate, appropriate, and intelligently timed NUTRITION. Think about it – what provides the supplies needed for new muscle growth, recovery, daily life support and maintenance. FOOD. It’s the fuel that your body runs off. And what you put in the tank (and when) directly correlates to the way your body performs. As an active individual your demands for energy and quality nutrients are far higher that your couch potato counterparts. In a nutshell you need more carbohydrates for energy and lean proteins to keep that muscle tissue “fed” throughout the day.
This is especially true when your goal is to lose body-fat. It’s always easier to maintain weight than to try and lose it, and the diets that each goal requires can be vastly different. For instance, on a fat loss diet I wouldn’t recommend foods that contain many simple sugars. The sugars are such a good source of fuel that your body won’t feel the need to burn fat for energy. If you were looking to maintain weight though, I wouldn’t recommend such a restriction on sugars. And don’t underestimate the importance of protein, as it is needed to help keep the muscle on your body while you concentrate on restricting calories
Each food nutrient plays a key role in your diet and health, and in my opinion every diet should consist of carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Eliminating just one of them is like missing a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, and the picture that you’ll end up with is never going to be quite right. I know many people have seemingly achieved success on various crash diets, but in my opinion the results never last and always end up doing more harm than good.
Like your exercise program, the right diet has to be both realistic and attainable. You may need to slowly learn how to eat correctly, one meal at a time so that it doesn’t seem overwhelming to make a change. Ideally, you’d want to be eating or snacking at least 5 – 6 times per day to supply a steady flow of nutrients and keep your metabolism running strong. This may require a bit of planning, but trust me it is very achievable.
The truth is this, your exercise is only one part of the equation, and represents a small time commitment of your health and fitness program. It’s what happens after you exercise and outside of the gym that also holds enormous weight (pun intended). Along with everything else I’ve suggested, you need to master proper nutrition in order to achieve your true potential. Take a look at my Angry Diet and Top Ten Snacks posts for some great insight on how I eat and a few tips for staying on track. I hope this helps and sets you off on a course for success!
But what do you think? How do you eat and have you reached your goals? I’d love to hear your comments…