Whether you’re trying to lose a few pounds, gain some muscle mass, or just get your beach body ready for the summer months ahead, you’ll have to do more than hit the gym. It all starts in the kitchen.
What you put into your body has as much—if not more—to do with the shape your body takes (or doesn’t take, depending on your perspective) as all those hours of pumping iron, sweating, cycling, Zumba-ing, etc. at the gym. According to many experts in the fitness world, it’s 75% food and 25% workout. Crazy, right? This varies from trainer to trainer and expert to expert, but common sense dictates that broccoli beats Doritos every time.
It Starts In The Kitchen
Yes, the food we eat plays a huge part in how our body responds to exercise. No surprise there. But it is definitely something to keep in mind the next time you’re out to brunch or contemplating a beer with lunch. Know that each decision will impact your body beyond just feeling full or getting tipsy. What we put in our mouths matters when it comes to maintaining the body we have…or achieving the body we want. As the saying goes, “Eat for results.”
If you expect success in the gym, it might be best to start and end your workout by thinking about what goes down in your kitchen—or in the kitchens of those restaurants you frequent (side note: Taco Bell is not a restaurant).
When You Eat Matters
Also of significant importance: Scheduling meals and snacks around your workouts. What you eat and when you eat can make all difference in how you feel during a workout, and how much you benefit from the food and the exercise after you’re done. The amount of food you should eat depends, of course, on your body weight, fitness goals, and daily exercise routine. The most important factor is finding a balance between what your body takes in for nutrients and what it expels for energy use.
Most gym-goers know they should always eat something before going to the gym. But did you know you should eat a meal at least a couple of hours before your workout? Some people try to shove the nutrients in their body right as they’re running out the door. This is not a good idea. A light snack is OK immediately before a workout (a high-carbohydrate bar or sports drink for energy). But there are so many other real foods that can make all the difference, too: honey, beet juice, blueberries—these all have significant health benefits.
Replenish Your Body
Getting healthy food into your body immediately after a workout is important too. This helps you recover from all that work you just put in. After a strenuous exercise, carbohydrates are depleted, and protein has been broken down, so the nutrients need to be replaced. And, while protein shakes are popular, they should never replace real food. Fish and chicken are your friends (yes, in this case, you should eat your friends). Having pre-cooked chicken breasts, or tuna fish premade, and ready in your refrigerator for quick consumption after a workout is always a great idea.
The evidence clearly shows that eating the right things both before and after a workout—and throughout your day—will maximize the benefits of both your workout and your overall health. So, put down the pint of Haagen Dazs and pick up something healthy and healthful. You’ll soon see that you can lose weight, gain muscle, and treat your body right by being committed in the kitchen first.