Everyone has their own health and fitness goals, whether that is to lose weight, complete a physical challenge or to improve their physique, muscle tone or mass. While exercise clearly plays a vital part in achieving these goals, it goes hand in hand with your diet which is equally as important in realising your fitness ambitions.
Tailoring your diet to exactly what you’re looking to achieve is easier than you would think. The first thing you need to do is have your end goal in mind. Different people will require different diets depending on what it is they’re looking to do. For example, if you’re training for a marathon then your diet and nutrition needs are going to be very different from somebody who is looking to gain lean muscle mass through weight training. Those looking to lose weight will need to eat differently to somebody looking to increase in size.
It’s important to fuel your body and even if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, eating is extremely important. Diets that starve you are not only unhealthy but will be detrimental to your exercise programme. Diets that starve you are not only unhealthy but will be detrimental to your exercise programme. Our bodies need calories for energy and to get us through our workouts and daily lives. Below are a few examples of simple nutrition requirements for different fitness goals that you may be looking to achieve.
Training for an endurance event
If you’re looking to get stuck into one of the many fantastic endurance events in Perthshire - 10K races, half and full marathons, triathlons or the upcoming Spartan Race 2018 - then your diet will play a huge role in both the training phase and before the race itself.
Carbohydrates are extremely important for those doing endurance training. The intense exercise means that your body needs to rely on the fast burning carbs to give it the fuel to keep going. During high cardio exercise, your body’s sugar needs are elevated and the carbohydrates are essential in meeting those needs. Performing high intensity cardio exercises without taking on enough carbs can lead to light-headedness, weakness, fatigue and poor motivation.
Before you get the running shoes on and start racking up the miles in training, you may want to load up on things like pasta, rice, potatoes and other high-carb foods to give you the energy to go the distance.
Gaining lean muscle mass
To gain lean muscle mass, you need to have lots of protein in your diet while steering clear of fatty foods and too many carbs. Gaining lean muscle is arguably the toughest one when it comes to nutrition because you need to get it just right to get optimal results. Gaining lean muscle is arguably the toughest one when it comes to nutrition because you need to get it just right to achieve optimal results. You can’t eat too little as you will start to lose muscle and if you eat too much, you will become bulky. It’s a fine balance!
A rough guide to follow when it comes to protein consumption for a lean muscle diet would be 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. If you consume plenty of chicken, fish, dairy and eggs within the recommended amount per pound of body weight, then you should have plenty of protein to meet your lean muscle goals. There are also protein supplements and vegetarian friendly protein sources for those who choose not to eat meat.
When it comes to losing weight, many people go on quick fix diets that starve the body which may seem to work but can be very unhealthy. Not only that, but they don’t work as a long-term solution and quite often result in ‘yo-yo dieting’ where the weight is quickly regained once the person comes off the plan.
You don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight. Making some simple adjustments such as cutting out fizzy drinks and processed foods, and cutting back on your alcohol intake can make a big difference. You want to make sure that each day you have a calorie deficit. That doesn’t mean that you don’t eat – it means that at the end of the day, once you’ve eaten your meals and done your exercise, you should have burned more calories than you have eaten.
Using a phone app such as MyFitnessPal is a great way to track your calorie intake to make sure that you keep on track and don’t overeat day-to-day!
So while exercise is clearly important, it is also crucial to make sure that your diet is tailored to match your training. Whether it’s loading up on carbs for a marathon or slapping chicken and turkey on your dinner plate most evenings to build lean muscle, your diet and nutrition is key to making sure you get the most out of your health kick!
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