People mistakenly believe that if they workout long enough, and hard enough, they can achieve that cover model look. But nothing could be further from the truth. You can workout till the cows come home, but if your diet isn’t dialed in, your training will suffer, not to mention your health and well-being.
A friend once told me, “You gotta eat big to get big; and you’re training won’t progress in the right direction if your diet isn’t leading you in the right direction.” You know that saying about “Not being able to out-train or out-exercise a bad diet.” Well, it’s true.
The truth is, exercise is a small component of the equation. Nutrition, hydration, and rest are the primary factors to a successful training program.
Your body needs energy to carry out daily activities. Energy balance between what is eaten and what is used determines if you will gain or lose body weight. This energy comes from the foods we eat. These foods are measured in units of calories.
How many calories do I need to maintain my current weight? On average, physically active men require 3000 calories a day, while active women require 2000 calories.
How many calories do I need to gain weight? On average, active men and women interested in gaining muscle mass require an additional 300-500 calories of quality “real” food each day.
It goes without saying that athletes require the proper nutrition to fuel performance. This varies depending on training frequency, type, intensity, body composition, size, and goals.
Let’s look at two examples of fueling for performance.
**For comparison purposes, we’ll use similarly matched individuals of age, weight, gender, body type, training schedule, and goals.**
Breakfast: three eggs, sausage patty, avocado slices, dry toast, cup of coffee
Mid-Morning snack: 8 oz. milk, 1 cup of mixed frozen fruit, 1 scoop of protein powder
Lunch: grilled chicken salad, lite dressing, 5 Ritz crackers, bottle of water
Mid-Afternoon snack: ½ cup of almonds, pepperoni slices
Pre-Workout: pre-workout formula (creatine blend)
During training: carb or protein based sports drink
Post-Workout snack/meal: 2 Fuel For Fire packs
Evening meal: 1 large bowl of Buffalo chicken chili and bottle of water
Evening snack: half peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk
Bedtime Snack: 8 oz. water, 1 cup of mixed frozen fruit, 1 scoop of protein powder
Daily Water intake: 2 liters per day on average
Breakfast: a cup of coffee
Mid-Morning snack: none
Lunch: pre-packed tuna sandwich and latte
Mid-Afternoon snack: cup of coffee
Post-Workout snack/meal: none
Evening meal: fast food grilled chicken sandwich and fries. Latte
Evening snack: none
Daily Water intake: Drinks water during workouts but nothing during the day
So which athlete do you think will have more success fueling their goals and performance?
As you can see, the bulk of Example A’s nutrients come from real, whole foods, with the additions of supplemental support and sports-performance nutrition to enhance their performance and recovery.
We won’t go into great detail on protein, carbs, and fats but consider: Protein levels adequate to fuel muscle tissue growth; post-workout carbs for recovery; fats for fuel; supplement based on needs. Your individual output will dictate the exact levels required to fuel your progress.
No matter how hard you train or what type of training routine you’re on, it’s all in vain if you don’t provide yourself with the right nutritional support. The best way to govern your eating is to make mindful, well informed decisions that relate to your individual lifestyle and goals.
If your performance is lacking or plateaus, think about what you’re putting into your body. If you aren’t happy with your body composition, think about what you’re putting into your body. If you’re energy level continues to tank, think about what you’re putting into your body.