Nutrition can be confusing, stressful and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Below are 10 simple ways to get your eating habits on track. You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel at the gym.
Eat the majority of your carbs around your workout.
One of the easiest tweaks to make to your diet and one we’ve personally seen some ridiculous results from. It sounds counter-intuitive but eating more carbs before and after your workouts is going to help you lift more weight and lose weight. We’ve had countless Nutrition Series athletes bring up the same thing. If you make just one change from this article, let it be this.
Limit fat post-workout.
Fat slows your digestion down so instead of all those great post workout carbs going right to your muscles to help you workout, they’re just chilling in your stomach instead. A small amount of fat in a carb-heavy snack is OK. Having a cheeseburger or bacon and eggs as your post workout fuel is not.
Experiment with an intra-workout snack.
No, we don’t want you eating cookies while doing 400-meter runs and pullups. But if you know it takes you an hour to back squat and you still have snatch pulls and jerks, it may be helpful to have some sips of Gatorade, Kool Aid or coconut water. Again- stick to carbs. Powerlifter Silent Mike likes to have a PopTart while weightlifter Kristin Pope will have a cookie during or after. This also applies to CrossFit athletes on competitor programs. Experiment with some intra-workout nutrition. It’s very often a missing element and one that can really elevate your workouts.
Figure out what you’re eating.
Do you record PRs ? Daily WOD times? Do you know your fastest mile time? You can guess at what you’re eating everyday or you can spend a few days tracking and get a much, much better idea of where your problems are. I can’t tell you how many people have no idea how much they are under-eating or how they’ve blown through their daily fat allotment by breakfast. You don’t have to be a crazy person that weighs their protein scooper. But you should have a rough idea of what you’re putting in your mouth if you want to improve your nutrition.
Have a plan for eating out.
And don’t let that plan be attack the bread basket. Going out to eat is fun and social and there’s no reason you can’t do it. (Seriously, I’ve been out in groups where girls on diets refused to order.) If you’re tracking your food you’ll have a good idea of what mix of carbs, protein and fat you need. If you’re not tracking your food, think about what you’ve eaten already. (It helps to be diligent in the meals leading up.) If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with lean protein and veggies.
Go easy on the alcohol
Do we really need to explain this one? It’s empty calories, limits your inhibitions and can wreack havoc on training sessions. Try to stop for a few weeks and see what happens. Powerlifter Krissy Mae Cagney, among others, noticed a serious physique change as well.
Eat more protein
You don’t get fat by eating more lean protein. As an active person, you need a lot of protein. As a regular human being, you need a lot of protein and most people don’t come close to hitting those needs. (No, you won’t damage your liver.) Protein has amino acids, muscles are built on protein and you burn calories just by eating protein. Plus, the right protein shake is delicious. Win, win.
Stop cutting carbs
I wish I could find the person who started giving carbs a bad rep and make them eat my pre-workout oatmeal surprise all day. (They probably wouldn’t appreciate it, though.) Seriously, if you truly think cutting carbs is the long-term way to fuel success, you either skipped down to this tip without reading or are still scared of carbs. So, one more time: stop cutting carbs.
Pay attention to timing
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to benefit from nutrient timing. Simple things- like not going from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. without eating, really go a long way in your performance at the gym and the scale. A good general rule of thumb is to be eating something every four hours.
Focus on whole foods
Supplements are great. But they aren’t meant to taken the place of actual meals. Sure, we’ve all had the emergency protein shake for lunch or dinner for one reason or another, but that’s the exception. Not the rule. Micronutrients in veggies, meat, fruits and carbs are great not just for the gym, but for life. And aren’t we all trying to maximize our nutrition for a great life inside and outside the gym?