I cannot say this enough: food, food, food, followed by more food. The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry whose sole purpose is to sell stuff. EVERY nutritional store is packed from floor to ceiling with the latest and greatest new pumped up workout product. Let’s not play nice, diet is key and these products can hide a poor diet. Pre-workouts, post-workouts, fat burners, hormones producers, etc. can be effective BUT IN CORRELATION to a food program that is on point. Once again, I cannot say this enough: food, food, food, followed by more food. To make things easy, I have always found for a day to day meal plan is to stay isocaloric. This means that each of your macro-nutrients (protein, carbs and fat) will be 33% of your caloric intake. There will be an even balance. This means that in a 1000 calorie diet, 333 calories come from fat, 333 calories come from protein, and 333 calories come from carbohydrates. Why is this important? The main reason is to make sure that the body has what it needs nutritionally. We want to use supplements exactly how the name implies, to SUPPLEMENT a balanced diet, not to REPLACE a balance diet. Most, if not all supplements, are based off of a balanced diet. By making sure that the body has what it needs nutritionally, we actually help increase the effectiveness of any given supplement, if not eliminating the need to use the supplement completely. Let’s look at what these macro-nutrients do.
I cannot stress enough the importance of protein. It is essential for a tremendous amount of metabolic function and structural support for the body. Here are just some of the responsibilities of protein:
1. Growth and maintenance
2. Biochemical reactions: digestion, energy production, blood clotting
3. Acts as a messenger
4. Provides structure
5. Maintains pH
6. Balances fluid
7. Strengthens immune health
8. Transports and Stores nutrients
9. Supplies energy
Base every meal or snack around protein.
The real reason we need carbs is for energy. Carbs are broken down into sugar that the body uses to supply muscles with the energy they need in order to perform any physical task. Besides energy, they help with the prevention of certain heart disease, diabetes, and helps promote digestive health.
There is always a debate about fats. Everyone agrees that they are necessary, the amount can be scrutinized. Fats store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They also act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs, start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. Fats help the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. The so-called "fat-soluble" vitamins—A, D, E and K—are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues.
Now that we know how to eat, here are some great pre-workout foods to help energize your workouts!
2. Peanut butter
3. Oats, whole grain bread, or granola
4. Grilled Chicken
5. Green veggies
6. Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
Mixing and matching these ideas will help fuel workouts but also give the body what it needs in order to build muscle, burn fat, and supply the necessary vitamins and minerals in order to maintain a healthy life! Here are some ideas that can be utilized. Make sure to eat at least a half hour before your workout.
1. Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
2. Banana or apples with peanut butter
3. Fruit smoothie
4. Oatmeal with blueberries
5. Trail mix with granola
6. Cottage cheese with fruit
The possibilities are endless! The ability to mix and match allow freedom to meet any goal also increases variability in food options. Either way, instead of supplements, try food!