Although all calories are universal units of energy, not all calories are created equal. There are some food sources that are more beneficial to your body than others, depending on your fitness goals. Some exercises require plenty of energy, therefore plenty of carbohydrates. Others require more strength and endurance, so they may need more protein. And then, when it comes to post workouts, depending on how much time you may have spent sweating or lifting, you need proper fuel for recovery. All of these factors play a big role when it comes to reaching your ultimate fitness goals and making the most of your work out.
For those who enjoy both weight lifting and cardio, the best time to cycle, run, swim or climb up a stepmill would be in the morning, right after finishing weight lifting. Your pre-workout meal should be composed of a healthy dose of both carbohydrates and protein. All of the carbs you consumed before the workout will be used during the weight lifting portion of your exercise, so once it is time for cardio, there will be nothing left for your body to use for energy except fat. If the goal is to lose body fat, this is the best training sequence. If weight lifting is not included in your workout, eat a fairly light breakfast before going to the gym, both protein and carbohydrates, and be sure to drink plenty of water during and after exercise.
If your involved in races or marathons and have no specific body transformation goals outside of winning or finishing the race, feel free to enjoy a meal of carbohydrates and protein before hitting the track. Though the body will be fueled from the carbohydrates instead of fat, your endurance levels will be higher and therefore you will have enough energy to run or bike a longer distance.
Bulking season requires more calories than any of these other forms of exercise in order for muscle growth to happen. You must eat big to get big. For protein options, pick lean meats like chicken, tilapia, bison, ground turkey or tuna. When choosing the proper carbohydrates to fuel for heavy lifting training sessions, opt for low-glycemic carbohydrates such as whole grains, oatmeal, fruit and veggies. The amount of calories burned in weight training workouts must be eaten back, preferably split equally into the pre and post workout meals. A common pre and post workout meal would be one scoop of protein powder mixed with oats or another fast absorbing carbohydrate. It is recommended that any physically active person should consume 1 gram of protein for every 1 lb of your weight. For muscle growth, multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.4-1.8 and that number will be the total grams of protein to aim for each day. The total number of calories needed for muscle growth per day would be 250-500 calories more than the number of calories burned on average each day, or your BMR.
Different methods of training require different methods of eating. The two go hand in hand when it comes to body transformations and progress. Neglecting proper nutrition will most likely lead to delayed or undesired results, so be sure to do your research in order to reach your fitness goals. Remember, what happens in the kitchen is as important as what happens in the gym!
Speaking of eating for your goals….
This week I decided that I would finally venture away from chicken for a night and substitute shrimp as my protein source! It’s amazing how easy it is to spice up a dish without using any oils, sodium-filled spices or fats. I made broccoli and chilled shrimp, with lime and rosemary as seasonings:) Super healthy, clean and low calorie. Great evening meal!