By Jane Sandwood
Are you the type of person who uses working out as an excuse to eat junk food or simply overeat?
Well, while it might not affect you as much in the beginning—thanks to what’s known as newbie gains—as you get deeper into your training, you’ll start seeing less-than-stellar results. Sure, you don’t have to eat clean 100% of the time. In fact, even professional bodybuilders rarely do.
But you still need to get not only your post-workout nutrition game on point at least 80% of the time but your overall diet as well if you want to make quality gains.
It’s easier to manipulate calories than your workout schedule
The science behind fat loss is simple: calories in versus calories out. If you eat more than you burn, you get fat. Do the opposite and you lose weight. Balance them out and you stay the same. It doesn’t matter what weird diet you follow, the science does not change.
The thing is, to burn more calories through exercise, you’ll need to increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of your training sessions significantly—which is not an easy thing to do, especially if you’re already training at a pretty high level. You’ll need to have superhuman strength, endurance and recovery to do so without getting injured or risking over training.
In contrast, cutting or adding a couple more grams of food from or to every meal takes no real effort but can quickly add up given how many times the average person eats in a week.
You need energy to crush your workouts and recover from them
How can you expect to lift heavy, run fast (or long distances) and then bounce back stronger if you don’t give your body the fuel it needs to do so? Hitting the gym hungry—or running on nothing but junk food—will cause you to perform poorly and therefore not give your body the stimulus it needs to get bigger and stronger.
Not eating enough or getting most of your post-workout nutrition from things like cake and chips, on the other hand, keeps your body from effectively repairing the damage your training has caused it.
It’s time to give your diet the attention it deserves
You spend so much time figuring out the best exercises for each muscle group. It’s about time you gave your eating plan the same level of focus. After all, without proper nutrition, the most carefully laid out training program would still not be able to give you the results that you’re looking for.
When it comes to your diet, eating a variety of food will ensure that you meet your nutritional needs. Stick to vitamin dense fruits and vegetables, especially dark greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli that are full of protein and iron to keep your energy levels high on few calories.
High fiber fruits will leave you feeling full for longer, while healthy omega-3 fats from oily fish and avocados are a great replacement for junk food.
These meals are simple to prepare and can be delicious, while filling you with long-lasting energy. There's really no excuse to eat junk when there's so much incredible, nutritious food available.
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