There are countless benefits to working out, including better heart health, an improved mood, better sleep, and weight management. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week, but some people prefer working out more often to lose weight, build muscle, or make other improvements to their health.
No matter what your goal is with working out, though, you won’t achieve it without proper nutrition. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, and you won’t truly reap the benefits of exercise until you adjust your diet as well. One supplement I have used daily for the last three years has been Shakeology. Check it out here to learn more about superfoods that keep you healthy and energized.
Proper nutrition provides energy for workouts
Eating poorly will affect your exercise performance, but proper nutrition will help you thrive during your workouts. A balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in your diet will give you the energy you need for a successful workout, maintain your blood glucose levels, and improve your recovery time.
According to the American Heart Association, healthy carbohydrates before a workout will provide a steady supply of energy. Healthy carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains
If you don’t eat in the hours leading up to a workout, it will be like driving a car with no fuel. Eating junk food or simple carbs can hinder a workout as well. It may provide a quick rush of energy, but you’ll feel a crash shortly after. Without any energy, your workout will be weak, uncomfortable, and unsuccessful.
A healthy diet is essential for weight loss
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t outrun your fork.” Although exercise can burn extra calories and help with weight loss, this saying is completely true. If you have poor eating habits, it will be impossible to exercise enough to compensate.
Weight loss is usually a combination of 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. Exercising certainly helps with weight loss and brings a wide variety of other health benefits. However, if weight loss is your primary goal with your workouts, you have to make changes in the kitchen, too.
A large cookie may have 300 or 400 calories. You could eat this in less than five minutes, but it will take more than an hour of strenuous exercise to burn these calories off. It’s much easier just to lower your caloric intake than try to make up for it at the gym. Because exercising can make you hungry, and because people tend to overestimate how many calories they burn while exercising, you may end up overeating after working out if you don’t monitor your diet.
Many studies have proven that diet is more important than exercise for weight loss. For example, a study from 2011 determined that exercise can be helpful for weight loss, but it’s only effective when combined with healthy caloric consumption.
Eating low calorie, nutritious foods will help you feel full while lowering your caloric intake to promote weight loss. Any exercise you do on top of this will speed up your progress, build muscle, and lower blood pressure.
Nutrition is an important factor in building muscle
If the goal of your workouts is to build muscle, eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential. Protein is especially important for gaining muscle because it’s the most important component of muscle tissue. It helps your body build new muscle fibers and repair damaged tissue.
Getting enough protein in your diet will increase your muscle mass as you work out, and it can promote muscle recovery after your workouts. You should consume up to 1 or 1.5 grams of protein for every pound of lean muscle mass, which is your body weight minus your fat percentage.
Without adequate protein every day, you may find yourself struggling to build as much muscle as you want to. Fortunately, you can get all the protein you need for building muscle in a healthy diet. High-protein foods include:
- Lean beef
If you don’t think you can get enough protein in your diet, you can supplement with protein powder. However, this is not always necessary. For building muscle, about 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories should come from protein. Any more could be harmful to your body, though, so don’t overdo it.
No matter your reason for working out, eating a balanced diet is necessary to see results. Protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates will help your workouts reach their full potential. To lose weight, gain muscle, or feel more energetic while you exercise, you have to pay attention to your diet. If you don’t already eat a nutritious diet, you don’t have to drastically change your meals right away, but you can start making small changes. Adding a little more protein, vegetables, fruits, or whole grains to your diet will help you see more results at the gym.
One of the best resources I have used has been the Ultimate Portion Fix System. Using the UPF, I have learned to balance all macro nutrients, fuel my body for performance and eat to lose weight, conserve muscle and perform at my best. Check it out here!