The famous saying goes that abs are made in the kitchen and there is absolute truth in that! Eating and exercise go hand in hand to make you a fat burning, muscle building or toning machine and it all comes down to what you’re putting into your body and what you want to achieve.
I’ll break it down as simply as possible, but to get a proper idea of what it is you should be eating, how much and when you should book a consultation with me to discuss your goals and to come up with a healthy eating plan that is tailored to your own personal goals.
However, that being said, here are the basics – but be warned, it can get a bit overwhelming to take in all at once which is why I recommend you get in touch with me to get a better idea.
What is Food?
Now, I know you all probably know what food is. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you didn’t, but do you really know what it is that’s going into your mouth? If you’re a complete beginner, you’re probably only looking at the calories of foods and none of the other nutritional information – this is wrong! I’m not saying calories mean nothing, but looking at the macros is so much more important.
People on a weight loss journey often have a deeply ingrained fear of carbohydrates, but don’t be! Carbs are your friends and help to fuel your workout so you can reach maximum potential.
General dietary guidelines suggest that around half of calories consumer should be derived from carbohydrates. This is true, but it also depends on who you are and what you are trying to do with your body. Some people need fewer carbs, some people need more.
Carbs are made up of three main categories: sugars, starches, and fibre. All of these categories provide the body with energy as most carbs get broken down into glucose, which can be used in two of the energy systems.
Of carbohydrates, you get either refined carbs or unprocessed carbs. Refined carbs are associated with obesity but a lot of unprocessed carbs are actually very healthy. However, that being said, carbs are not a direct cause of obesity.
If carbs instill a fear in people, fat is a macro that sends people running for the hills and saying their final prayers. Don’t be afraid of fat, you need it, there are good fats and bad fats. Fats give you energy, keep you warm, protect your organs and help your body function.
Just like with carbs, there are two main categories of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are generally not good for you but unsaturated fats are actually healthy!
Saturated fats can be found in the likes of red meat, butter, eggs, and dairy products and it is only recommended these make up 6% of your daily calorie intake.
Protein is arguably one of the most important things you need to be putting in your body when it comes to fitness and working out. Protein is made out of amino acids, which help build muscle and repair tissue. It is also an energy source.
If you are working out a lot, you’re going to need more protein than the average person. This is when protein shakes and supplements come in really handy.
Eating to Lose Weight
If you’re looking to lose weight, then the bones of it is that you need to be burning more calories than you’re consuming. But, as with all things health related, it’s never that simple. You still need to get all of your macros in your diet, but the percentages of each will need to be adjusted depending on your workout plan, your current weight and body fat percentage and your overall goal.
It’s also really important that you are actually eating too. Running a diet down to the bare bones and being really restrictive can have dire consequences on your health and can event prevent weight loss due to your body going into starvation mode and clinging onto any bit of fat it has for sustenance.
A general guideline to a weight loss diet is to minimise the amount of saturated fats that you consume, while keeping the good fats, cutting carbs down to after workouts only or for breakfast, eating chicken and other white meats and loading up on leafy and green vegetables.
Eating to Gain Muscle
When you’re working out to gain muscle and bulk up, you should be placing a heavy focus on your diet and really concentrating n getting that right to fuel your workouts and help your body recover.
You should be including nutrient-dense food into every single meal that you eat and, if you’re going really hard, you’ll need to be adding an extra 25% to your calorie intake every day.
Some nutrient-dense foods you may want to consider adding to your diet are: beef, brown rice, turkey, broccoli, eggs, milk, spinach, quinoa, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt.