Motivating yourself to go to the gym can be tough but the benefits for your health can’t be denied! Whether you are in it for the cardio, the weight lifting or a great combination of the two, your body will thank you in so many ways as your training develops. Your diet plays a huge role in the success of your workout efforts and it is important not to sabotage yourself by making unhealthy food choices.
A strenuous exercise session can make you feel like you need to go home and raid the fridge, so avoiding this 'one step forwards, two steps back' pitfall is essential. Adequately nourishing your body pre-exercise will help to keep your energy levels up as you train and will also make it less likely that you will over-eat afterwards.
Making Positive Food Choices
There are obviously certain foods that you will need to avoid completely if you want to succeed when it comes to fitness. Additionally there are also some foods that are in a grey area. These grey area foods are often touted as being health foods but can actually be detrimental to your overall fitness. Knowing how to recognise these foods will enable you to avoid them and make sensible choices instead!
A popular food for eating both pre and post workout is the banana. It is a fantastic source of potassium and also a healthy source of carbohydrates. If this is a snack that you use then you should always make sure you opt for the ripe version as opposed to a green banana.
Green bananas might be delicious but they actually have quite a high starch content and this can be problematic for digestion. The last thing you want when you need all the energy you can get is for some of it to be zapped by your digestive system. On the other hand, ripe bananas have already converted most of this starch to simple sugars which are easily digestible.
Pasta is a fantastic source of carbohydrates and can be great fuel for a workout. However, be careful with the kind of pasta you buy and try to avoid loading it with calorie dense sauces and creams. If you do have to have yours with a sauce then opt for a basic tomato version. Tomato sauces will usually be low in fat and will settle well in your stomach.
Choosing whole grain pasta, as opposed to the standard versions, will pack a more powerful nutrient punch as well as providing you with a higher quality energy boost.
Steering clear of dairy could help you to avoid a workout slump. Many athletes tend to avoid dairy at least a few hours before they train and it is thought that this enables them to power through. Avoid drinks that contain dairy and choose to hydrate with water instead. Dairy has been linked to certain gastrointestinal issues, so it could be affecting your performance even if you don’t have an actual allergy to it.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is a great way to support your body when you are exercising. This is especially the case when you are engaging in weight training workouts as your body will need help to support muscle growth and repair.
There are a wide variety of protein powders available that you can consume before, during and after your exercise routine. These powders are scientifically formulated to give your muscles the support they need. However, you should also aim to get a reasonable amount of protein into your system through dietary sources.
Amazing plant-based sources of protein are soy, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and certain vegetables, such as mushrooms and kale.
Similarly to dairy you will more than likely want to avoid sugar if you are really trying to pay attention to your health. Sugar is harmful to the body in a wide variety of ways that can be detrimental to reaching your fitness goals.
When you really take the time to evaluate your diet you may quickly be surprised by how much sugar is in many of the items in your kitchen. Cutting back on sugar slowly is a good place to start, but in order to really protect your health it is advisable that you work to eradicate it entirely. You can do this by choosing natural whole foods instead of processed and packaged food items. As you work to remove sugar from your diet you may begin to notice that your energy levels become more consistent which can also help out when it comes to powering through your workouts at a sustainable pace.
Remember, it's much easier to make changes to your diet at a slow and steady pace! Try to look at one aspect of your diet at a time and build up to serious positive changes over time!