How to Tackle Nutrition and Working Out
Eating nutritious meals is important for maximizing your workout. Without the right balance of nutrients, your body can't effectively burn fat and build muscle. Most experts agree you should eat a well-balanced meal at least one to two hours before your workout and give your body all the nutrients it needs to recover. Unfortunately, most people don't eat balanced meals and still expect to reach their fitness and health goals. Eating healthily is important not just for losing weight, but it can help you build muscle, feel more energized, and recover faster.
If you're an average person who is exercising for health and fitness, you don't typically need a strict diet. However, there are a few things you should focus on.
Importance of Nutrition for Working Out
Food affects every aspect of your life, from when you wake up to when you fall asleep and even during your sleep! The food you eat plays a role in how you feel. If you've ever noticed how tired you get after eating fast food, then you already know what we're talking about, at least in part. Exercise is also important for your overall health and wellness. However, nutrition plays a large role in fitness because it can make you feel energized enough to work out while providing your body with the fuel it needs to build muscle and support the health of every organ in your body.
Eating well can help you lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, feel more confident, and help you get enough fuel to stay energized throughout your entire day. In fact, eating healthy food is the most important part of a successful fitness program because you can't become physically fit by eating junk food.
Nutrition Tips for Fitness
Now that you understand the important relationship between nutrition and exercise, it's time to find a way to eat healthier to optimize your workout routine and help you feel your best. Here are a few tips to improve your fitness routine through nutrition.
Don't Skip Meals
Skipping meals can make you feel lethargic throughout the day because your body isn't getting enough fuel to function properly. When you're hungry, the last thing you want to do is work out. Instead, eat balanced meals at least three times a day to help you get the energy you need for an effective workout. Food is fuel so dump the bad habit of meal skipping and prioritize the needs of your body.
Make Your Own Meals
After a long day of work, stopping at the nearest fast food restaurant might be tempting to grab a quick meal instead of cooking dinner for yourself. However, doing this prevents you from effectively tracking everything you eat. The food at home has nutritional labels that tell you about the different nutrients, including essential vitamins, carbs, calories, and fats. If you're trying to watch what you eat, cooking your own food at home and tracking your micro and macronutrients is your best bet to ensure you're eating a balanced diet.
Eat More Protein
To build muscle and burn fat, you need to eat protein. Protein repairs and builds muscles after every workout. Many experts say to eat a high-protein meal after you work out, but you can eat protein any time throughout the day to support your fitness goals. Protein also makes you feel fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating before going to the gym. Foods rich in protein include eggs, tuna, lean meats like chicken, nuts, grains, and beans. If you want to get the protein you need in a simpler or vegan/vegetarian format, you can also opt for protein shakes.
You must maintain adequate hydration if you want to make it through a long, sweaty workout. Dehydration can make you feel horrible even when you're just sitting at your desk all day, so imagine what happens when you're dehydrated during a workout session. When your muscles are dehydrated, they can't get enough oxygen and nutrients, which can prevent you from building muscle during your workout.
During periods of more intense physical activity, you must continue to drink water to replenish your fluids and fight fatigue.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Listening to your body after you eat can tell you a lot about the foods you eat. For example, you may feel more energized after eating a salad instead of a hamburger in the afternoon. Paying attention to your body while eating your pre-workout meal and during your workout can help you determine which foods boost performance versus hinder it.
Don't Skip Carbs
Many people who are working out to lose weight go on low-carb diets or avoid carbs as much as possible. However, you need carbs for an effective workout, especially during high-intensity exercise. Low-carb diets might hinder your progress because carbs serve as fuel for your brain and muscles. However, some carbs are healthier than others. If you want to load up on carbs to keep yourself energized for your workout, consider healthy carbs like quinoa, whole grain bread and pasta, fruits, and vegetables.
Eat Healthy Fats
Fats are another nutrient that doesn't get enough positive attention. Healthy fats, known as unsaturated fats, keep your body energized and enhance its ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
We've just discussed the importance of a healthy diet, but unfortunately, many people's diets don't give them enough vitamins and minerals to effectively support their workout routines. While you can get more vitamins through diet alone, doing so is quite difficult unless you're able to track the nutrients in everything you eat. Additionally, some individuals are more at risk for nutritional deficiencies than others. For example, vegans can't get B vitamins from meat, so they may have to take a supplement for healthy energy levels.
If you're worried your diet is lacking in nutrients even though you eat fruits and vegetables, consider taking a daily supplement or talking to your healthcare provider about the types of fitness supplements that can boost your workout performance.
We're not saying it's impossible to get abs if you don't eat healthily. However, you can tone your body and feel better by eating a healthy, balanced diet before and after your workouts. Good nutrition provides your body and brain with the vitamins and minerals it needs to support every cell in your body. Without these vital nutrients, your body can't repair itself or build new muscle.
Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a freelance who loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, painting, and her pup Ruby.