Feeling Like You Need to Sacrifice Gains in Order to Drop a Few Pounds? Read On!
There’s a common refrain going around that exercise won’t help you lose weight nearly as much as watching what you eat will. While this may be true, staying active can still help supplement your weight loss program and is a critical component to overall health. If you’re a lover of our blog, you don’t need us telling you about all the benefits you get when you make daily, moderate-to-vigorous activity a part of your lifestyle.
That said, if you’re not being careful with how you’re fueling your body, you may feel like you don’t have the energy to support your fitness routine or find you’re struggling to improve your performance in the gym. So, while it may be true that you can’t out-train a bad diet, it’s also true that a great diet can work synergistically with your fitness habits to help you hit both weight and strength goals in quicker time.
Time Your Carbohydrate Consumption
There’s a lot of tricky and often controversial science around nutrient timing, but most nutrition enthusiasts agree that eating the right foods at the right time can give you more energy and get you through your workout feeling stronger.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to focus on when you’re eating carbohydrates—it all comes down to managing insulin levels. Insulin plays a major role in delivering macronutrients to all the different areas of your body, including your muscles.
Stack nutrition breaks it down well: “The body releases insulin after eating carbohydrates...After a weight training session, your muscles are running on empty. Carbohydrates consumed post-workout are used to replenish this energy supply, which means there isn't much left over to store in fat cells.” When you eat carbs immediately after a workout, you help fuel up your muscles so they can repair themselves—all while sidelining fat accumulation.
With that in mind, here’s one simple rule for when to cycle in your carbs: Eat more carbs on days when you know you’re going to have a tougher workout (lifting heavy weights, high intensity interval training, extended periods of exercise like playing a sport) and less on days when you’re relatively sedentary.
For more info on nutrient timing, check out this article from Precision Nutrition.
Make Proper Recovery a Part of Your Fit Lifestyle
As noted above, carbohydrates play a key role in workout recovery. That said, don’t forget about your protein!
Combining your post-recovery carbs with a good dose of protein can go a long way toward helping your muscles heal and build new tissue, helping you look and feel stronger.
So, how much protein do you need? Healthline points to studies that suggest “ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body's ability to recover after exercise.”
Note that recovery doesn’t stop at what you eat. While this article is all about fueling up properly, it’s also important to remember that following a good regimen of stretching, icing (when necessary), and resting is key to ensuring that you’re back in the gym as soon as possible to continue to make those gains. Without treating yourself to some post-workout self-care, you run the risk of straining muscles or dealing with unnecessarily long bouts of delayed muscle soreness that will make you want to stay in bed instead of getting up and at ‘em.
Focus on Volume
Stop for a second and think about how you feel an hour after eating a donut versus a giant, homemade, veggie-rich salad. Which item made you feel more full? Which kept you satiated?
And which had more calories?
By focusing on quality and quantity, you can keep both the calories and the hunger pangs at bay. Eating for volume is all about consuming large quantities of low-calorie foods, especially when those foods are high in fiber. Think veggies, legumes, whole grains, etc. When you pair these with lean proteins (like chicken) and healthy fats (like avocados), you’ll find the satiation puzzle is a lot easier to solve.
When thinking about whether or not a food is going to keep you feeling full in the right way, there’s one simple trick to follow: Avoid sugar (which means avoiding processed foods, since sugar tends to be added to everything.) If you’re eating meals that are large, but rich in whole foods, fiber, lean protein, and friendly fats, you’re more likely going to feel strong during your workouts and keep calories in check.
Drink Some Coffee to Get Pumped Up
Studies suggest that consuming caffeine can improve performance in a variety of ways: It can boost endurance, give you greater power, and your increase speed during your workout.
And the good news is, if you’re naturally sensitive to the substance, you can still enjoy some of the positive outcomes of consuming caffeine pre-workout by taking in a smaller dose. According to a 2014 study published by Sports Med, ingesting caffeine in almost any amount before a workout can have a positive impact on your performance. The study highlights that consuming even 3mg of the good stuff per kilogram of body mass about an hour before a workout can “improve vigilance, alertness and mood, and improve cognitive processes during and following strenuous exercise”—all without the side effects that often come from overdoing it on the java. As the study points out, “This is no more caffeine than may be consumed in 1–2 small cups of coffee or one large coffee.”
Supplement! Supplement! Supplement!
We’re not talking skeezy weight loss supplements here. We’re talking a well-balanced, high-quality multivitamin to help fill in the gaps of your diet. As noted in our recent post on nutrient deficiency, dieters tend to be at higher risk of falling short of their daily nutritional needs.
The good news is that we formulated our VitaYears Anti-Aging Multivitamin with 30 handpicked vitamins, minerals, nutrients and botanicals geared specifically toward supporting total body health. And we didn’t just stop there—we made sure to include each nutraceutical in a clinically relevant dose, meaning that we’re not giving you too much or too little of any one ingredient. Finally, we sourced out the highest quality of ingredients and employed the best in manufacturing processes to ensure that every single nutraceutical absorbs into your body and starts working its magic as expected.
Ask yourself this: If you’re going to take a multivitamin (which you should), why not take the best?