If you want to hit your upper limits in the gym, the first thing you should do is take a look around your kitchen to see if you have what you need to help you meet your fitness goals. Aside from what to eat, it’s also important to consider when you take your meals, as it could make a difference in your workout performance and your post-workout recovery.
Here are some food tips to follow when you want to optimise your workouts and hit your upper limits in the gym.
Nutritionists and fitness experts agree that it’s best to consume a heavy meal a few hours before hitting the gym. Meals should consists of plenty of carbs as well as lean protein. Recommended are pasta, rice, peanut butter, fish, chicken and other nutrient-rich food. Eating is important especially before doing extended aerobic exercises, such as running on the treadmill.
Within an hour or so during gym workouts, you should consume a snack that’s rich in carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. Avoid consuming proteins immediately before workouts as these take a longer time to digest and may cause stomach cramps, making it difficult for you to do exercises properly.
It’s important to eat immediately after workouts to help the body recover from exertion faster, especially after a physically demanding routine. How much you need to eat after your workout would depend on your body size, type of exercise routine as well as your fitness goals.
What’s important is to find a balance that will let you build muscle and replace the carbs and proteins used up and broken down during the workout, but without converting the extra food into unwanted fat. Post-workout protein powder supplements work best for those who may be too tired to eat, but it’s important to note that these shouldn’t replace proper, nutrient-rich meals.
Eat according to fitness goals
Achieving optimal performance in the gym requires a good nutrition plan, which would depend on your fitness goals. Here are examples of the kinds of food to eat if you’re looking to improve endurance and build muscle.
- Endurance – To keep endurance up, choose complex carbs that take a longer time to digest such as whole grains (oats, rice and quinoa are good examples), beans, fruit, leafy greens, beets and legumes. Half an hour or an hour before your workout, pop in a piece of toast with jam for fuel. Starchy veggies such as potatoes are also good carb sources that keep blood glucose levels consistent during rest days.
- Muscle mass and overall health – Building lean muscle mass isn’t just for bodybuilders! If you want to burn more energy even after a workout, pay attention to your muscles and eat a balanced meal containing whole wheat, protein such as turkey and fruit. Make sure you also get micronutrients such as vitamins A, C and E as well as iron, zinc and magnesium.
- While these can be obtained from natural food sources, you can also take in supplements if your daily diet lacks them.
No matter what you eat, make sure you drink enough fluid (water is best!) to compensate for liquids lost during gym training. Stay hydrated to help your body process the food you eat, get the nutrients you need to where they’re needed and function properly as a whole.