Are you working hard in the gym to build strength, power and fitness? Well make sure you maximise your nutrition to get the results you want!
If you’re training to build a bigger booty or simply want to get stronger, you shouldn’t be eating in a calorie deficit – it’s so important that you eat plenty of natural, whole foods to feed your muscles and aid your recovery.
When lifting weights and taking on strength challenges, you’ll be taxing your central nervous system, causing micro tears in your muscle fibres and fatiguing your body. This is why you should think carefully about the food you eat around your workouts to ensure that you have the appropriate nutrients to repair, recover, aid your kick-ass performance and ultimately, get stronger.
No matter what time of day you exercise, it’s important to start as you mean to go on. Choosing a balanced breakfast will ensure glycogen stores are topped up within your muscles and give you a good dose of energy for the day ahead. Tasty, healthy options include omelette with spinach and wholemeal toast, natural granola with yoghurt or even a quickie fruit smoothie blitzed with oats for sustained energy. Making sure that your first meal is a healthy one increases the likelihood of you continuing on this path through the rest of the day.
Aim to have another good, balanced meal approximately an hour before you hit the gym so you feel ready to tackle those lunges and give your best on the treadmill. If you do feel you digest food fairly slowly, you could eat up to 90 minutes before. Look for meals with a balance of lean protein and carbohydrates plus an optional side of healthy fats. This will see you reap the benefits of all the macronutrients and have plenty of energy to take on the weights. This could be chicken & egg fried rice with sesame seeds & broccoli, a simple tuna jacket potato with a little butter or mayonnaise or a warm tofu, quinoa and avocado salad.
As soon as the session is over, you might a little protein and carbohydrate top-up to help kick start the refuelling process and start recovery. This is where protein shakes could come in handy as a convenient, tasty and easily-digestible snack. You could always add a banana or some raisins for some quick sugar and to help replenish minerals lost such as potassium and magnesium. If you’re heading straight home to eat a meal, you have the option to skip this and increase the size of your next meal instead.
This is the meal that you’ll eat in the hour or two after you’ve exercised and again, is necessary to contain the right balance of macronutrients for optimal health and recovery. It tends to be your biggest meal of the day and be more calorie-dense because you’ll be particularly hungry after expending so much energy in the gym. Your muscle cells will be primed and particularly receptive to absorption so macro and micronutrients become even more important. Protein and carbohydrates are a good refuel blend – a turkey meatball pasta, lean beef noodle stir-fry or oven baked cod with potato wedges would all work well – just ensure you add a side of fibre-rich vegetables and that the size of this meal reflects the energy demands of your workout. This is your recovery meal after all.
You might find you feel peckish before bed and there’s nothing worse than sleep interrupted by hunger pangs. Choose something that will digest slowly as you’ll be more likely to get a good night’s sleep. A protein snack coupled with some healthy fats is ideal for that undisturbed rest and muscular recovery. Try a bowl of cottage cheese with berries and some nuts, a chia seed and coconut milk pudding or even some peanut butter balls made simply from peanut butter, protein powder and milk. These snacks aren’t just tasty, but healthy and satiating too.
As you can see, exercise and nutrition most certainly go hand-in-hand. To be better in the gym, you also have to be good in the kitchen. However, do remember , it’s not just about being strong or changing your body shape but it’s also about optimal health and happiness. Hopefully this guide and the meal ideas included helps you to think about the choices you make. Food is fuel – it should be used as a help, not a hindrance.
Wishing you all a successful week ahead!