Your diet is probably the single most important action you take for your health. For any ailment, there is almost always a way of eating that can improve symptoms or completely reverse them. Additionally, you can work out like you’re in the military, but if you don’t maintain the right diet, your efforts will never get you in the shape you are hoping for. Could a sports car could be in racing shape if you don’t fuel it with the best gasoline? If you filled it up with orange juice it wouldn’t be capable of much even if it was a brand new model. The same philosophy goes for your body. You need to carefully plan your meals pre and post workout along with the right nutritional supplementation for it to run efficiently . While that sounds pretty intuitive, there are a ton of gym rats and class takers who are not happy with the shape they are in (whether it’s not losing their desired weight or being unable to gain body mass). Many people think that they can eat unlimited “healthy” foods if they are exercising. You still have to be conscious of your caloric, fat, sugar and carbohydrate intake even if it’s coming from a good source. Additionally it’s wise to focus on meal timing or you could be sabotaging your efforts.
I recommend eating a small snack pre workout and then your main meal post workout. A big mistake I see with clients is eating before the gym, then feeling so hungry post workout that they end up eating another whole meal. So even though they may have had this killer workout, it was negated by all the calories consumed. Just eat enough pre- workout for energy but not until the point of fullness. These pre- workout snacks can be as simple as a handful of raw nuts, a few organic turkey slices or even a couple bites of your leftover salmon from lunch.
Noticed how everything I mentioned was protein? You need to make sure to eat enough protein when working out. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. They are what helps us get those beautifully defined muscles, prevent brittle hair, skin, and nails, strengthen our bones, and regulate hormone function. Eggs, lean meats, low-fat dairy, poultry, beans, lentils, and soy (in moderation) are all proteins that support building muscle. High quality protein bars and shakes are also good for muscle building pre- and post-workout. Protein also keeps you fuller longer.
While some carbohydrates are still an important part of your diet, we don’t need them in the quantities like big bowls of pasta or loaded sugary smoothies before a run (unless you really want to put on size). Heavy servings of carbs will not help with muscle definition. Your diet should be rich in a variety of vegetables, adequate protein and limited carbohydrates coming from non-glutenous grains and starches like quinoa, rice, squash and sweet potato.
Amino Acids taken in supplement form can really help with sports performance and recovery. They can increase the secretion of anabolic hormones, provide fuel during workouts and prevent the side effects of overtraining. Below are my pics for the top supplements I use with clients (and personally) being that I’m an avid runner.
(BCAA) Branched Chain Amino Acids have been studied for their positive effects on physical and mental fatigue during and after prolonged exercise. Increased exercise boosts serotonin levels, although too much serotonin – even though an important neurotransmitter can cause fatigue. BCAA can naturally reduce serotonin levels to decrease fatigue and enhance athletic performance.
Glutamine can benefit the cells of the immune system, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, that may be decreased with prolonged intense exercise (which can be related to overtraining). Glutamine may also promote muscle glycogen synthesis, and has been studied for potential enhancement of muscular strength..
Arginine increases Nitric Oxide which helps to stimulate blood flow to the muscles and increase blood circulation. It also works to stimulate growth hormone. While arginine has many benefits, those with herpes may want to avoid arginine supplementation or take the amino acid lysine in conjunction to prevent outbreaks. Lysine seems to have an anti-viral effect on the herpes virus.
Taurine plays a role in several metabolic processes, such as heart contraction and antioxidant activity. It’s often used in energy drinks to help mental performance, mood and focus.
Be conscious of not overtraining. You need to give yourself adequate rest if you want to gain muscular strength. The body needs this time to repair the micro trauma that occurs within muscles during training. The other reason rest is required is to not overexert your adrenals. It’s good to mix your exercise between high intensity exercises (running, cycling, and heavy cardio) to low intensity activities (yoga, swimming, walking) to achieve the most balance and best results.