The one thing that can determine the success of any fitness program is nutrition. If you are not fueling your success from the inside, you will find yourself struggling. Healthy eating is key to a successful fitness routine, especially if your goal is to build strength. You may be under the impression that to lose weight you need to eat less, but food is what provides the energy for your workouts and what helps you perform every action. Making sure that you’re putting the right nutrients in your body throughout the day can ensure that you feel great while you’re building confidence and creating a harmonious relationship with your body.
Calories are Energy
It’s simple. You want to perform, you need calories. To fuel your body, you need to eat enough calories to sustain your daily activities and your fitness routine. You’ve no doubt been introduced to calorie counting as a way to lose or manage weight. While this practice can be helpful for some, it’s extremely important to recognize that not all calories are created equal. The calories from a fast food meal will not give you the same energy as the calories from a fresh chopped salad. Calorie intake is a daily balance of input and output. It is important to choose foods that are nutrient dense as the calories in these foods are packed with potential energy. When you fuel your body with a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients, you are giving your muscles and other body systems the fuel they need to work at their peak.
It Comes Down to Nutrition
The United States Department of Agriculture suggests a healthy eating style called MyPlate. MyPlate is divided into food group categories to provide the average, healthy body with the adequate nutritional intake needed for daily energy. They suggest fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains. Each of these basic food categories provide a different nutritional component to fuel activity and muscle recovery. While MyPlate is a great place to start, thinking about food from a holistic approach can be extremely beneficial when you’re working for a healthy relationship with your body and diet.
For the Love of Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables supply a rainbow of nutrients. They are essential for any diet because the vitamins and minerals available in fruits and veggies are what help to repair your muscles after a workout and keep your body systems working properly. Vitamins like C and B help to convert the food you eat into energy your body needs and Vitamin D helps build strong muscles, bones and skin. The soluble and insoluble fiber found in fruits and veggies keep your digestive system working which is also very important for holistic wellness.
Proteins provide the nutritional components your body needs for muscle repair and growth. When you perform strength-training exercises, your muscle tissues experience small tears. To repair these tears and become stronger, your body needs proteins. Protein is non-negotiable when it comes to strength training. The great news is protein can be found in many sources. Beans, eggs, lean meats and nuts all provide substantial sources of protein needed for healthy muscle repair and growth.
Calcium is essential for strength and wellness. Calcium is stored in the bones and is one of the nutrients that allows your muscles to move in the first place. Without calcium, your body will become fatigued and your progress will be slowed. When you are calcium deficient, you may not be able to lift as much as you were able to before, it may be harder for you to lift less weight and cramps can be common. Getting enough calcium is imperative for both your muscles and bones if you wish to transform your body with strength training. Calcium is found commonly in dairy products but also is rich in leafy greens like spinach, chard and kale.
Carbs have gotten quite the bad rap in recent years. There are more low carb/no carb diets than you can shake a baguette at. The problem is that our bodies need carbohydrates to properly function. They are what give us energy. When a carbohydrate enters the body it’s broken down into sugars that the body uses to move our muscles and carry out every function from breathing to your heartbeat. Excess calories from carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat for use at a later date. If you want to get the most out of your carbohydrates choose whole ones that take work to digest. Carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat provide you with the energy you need and aren’t as easily available so they’re more likely to be used instead of stored. Whole carbs also carry with them a host of nutrients and fiber.
Your daily food choices impact your workouts, energy level and results, so it is important to choose your food based on its nutritional value. When you find yourself reaching for a snack or preparing a meal, think about what your body needs. Choose colorful, nutrient-packed foods that will help to fuel your success and make you stronger. It may take time to learn what foods are best for your body and your routine. But as you slowly discover what you like and what your body needs, you’ll develop a healthy relationship with food and your body.