By now most of you know that I have a major sweet tooth. Anything chocolate or, OMG!, mint chocolate chip ice cream, ranks high on my list of favorite foods. But at the same time, I am also very keen on how eating these types of foods affects my mood, energy level, and performance in the gym. In a previous blog post I wrote about the importance of including fat, protein, and carbohydrates in your daily nutrition regimen. I’m going to take this a step further and discuss how making some changes in the amount, timing and types of food will help your performance in the gym and also change your body composition for the better!
Before I get into this I think it is incredibly important to remind everyone that there is NO ONE WAY to eat. Absolutely every single one of us is different. So what works for me may not work for you or anyone else. Learning to eat for your own individual goals takes dedication, time and trial and error. Your lifestyle, job, activity level, sleep, age, etc. are all factors in determining how you should be fueling your body.
My goal today is to explain 3 main points in how to properly fuel your body for your goals and lifestyle.
- Macronutrient Calculations
The first step to eating for your goals, whether it be to put on 10lbs of muscle, lose body fat, etc. is to know how much you should be eating. Weight loss, maintenance, or gain is determined by energy balance. The bottom line when it comes to fat loss is that you have to be eating at a caloric deficit. This means that you will consume less food than energy you expend throughout the day. This doesn’t have to be a huge deficit and I definitely don’t mean that you have to cut everything you love out of your diet. As little as 250 calories per day is all that you need to start. For example, if you drink 1 bottle of soda a day, switch in some 0 calorie seltzer water. Couple that with at least 250 calories burned through our CrossFit class and you’ll likely see yourself down 1lb per week.
If you haven’t seen the scale move in years, you’re doing well at eating at maintenance. If you’d like to put on some weight, add in some extra calories. Whatever your goal, knowing HOW MUCH you need to eat is pivotal.
- Nutrient Timing
Nutrient timing is something that may or may not benefit you as an individual but I do think that there’s more pros than cons in trying. Nutrient timing is exactly what it sounds like. Timing when you consume certain macronutrients (fats, protein, carbs) throughout the day. *Important note, protein should be consumed evenly throughout the day and with every meal!*
As a competitive athlete, consuming the bulk of my carbohydrates up to 1 hour before and 1-2 hours after my training sessions has proved to be the most beneficial for ME. It allows me to have the most energy going into each training session rather than feeling depleted or tired and also kick starts my recovery process so that I am feeling prepared and ready for the next day’s session. Consuming carbohydrates post workout will allow my body to replenish lost glycogen, what your muscles burn during exercise,
Now what about you, the busy professional? I understand that most of us work behind a desk for the majority of our day. Nutrient timing can still work for you similarly to how it does for me. What is the difference? Quantity. Someone who exercises for 2-3 hours a day needs to eat more than someone who exercises for 1 hour a day but the timing can be very similar. If you train first thing in the morning, you would want to consume the most carbs in your first meal of the day (a banana, oatmeal, sweet potato, rice, grits, etc.) with a serving of protein and very minimal fat, and then lessen your carbs as the day goes on. If you’re an after work exerciser, start your day off with mostly fats and protein, and as you get closer to your workout time start increasing your carb intake.
Aside from whatever your carb source is after your workout, the rest of your meals should be nutrient dense. Nothing processed or filled with chemicals. Eat. Real. Food.
Reaching your dietary and performance goals takes time and patience. It can be a fun process or a very stressful process depending on how you look at it and go about your strategy. Having a flexible mindset is the key to success. If you’re ultimate goal is to be healthy, look good naked, and improve performance in the gym you do not have to sacrifice every single item of food to be successful. Learning how to incorporate foods like ice cream, cake, pizza, beer, etc. will make the process more enjoyable. With that being said, moderation is very important. Keep track of your macronutrients to leave no room for error or miscalculations. Always remember, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
If you’re ready to make a change with your nutrition and start reaching your performance and aesthetic goals, our coaches are here to help you! The Diamond State Nutrition program might be exactly what you need to motivate you and hold you accountable as you go through your fitness and health journey. Let a coach guide and teach you the keys to be successful in and out of the kitchen. Visit our website, www.crossfitdiamondstate.com/flexibledieting for more information on what we have to offer!