Eating Food Around Workouts To Help Weight Loss03.07.20
Do you enjoy hitting the studio for a high-intensity group class? How about raising the heart rate at home with a digital class? Or maybe you like hitting the gym for a few heavyweights sessions every week.
When it comes to weight loss, expending those all-important calories is one of your main goals. And, whatever your chosen method, you will be doing just that. However, it’s also important to consider your pre and post workout meals to make sure you’re eating the right food for your goals. That’s why KBK has workout-dependent meal plans, which can either help you build lean muscle or help you maintain a calorie deficit to shed that unwanted body fat.
The power of food
We must not underestimate the power of the food we eat. And the vital role workout meals play in how well (or badly) you perform in your training sessions. You would have heard the term ‘food is medicine’. And to a large extent, it’s true. It plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health of every single cell in your body. Whether you train or not, it allows you to sleep better, focus more, and generally perform at your best. And while food can help, it can also hinder your performance at home, at work, and in the gym.
In essence, your food is made up of what we call macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). In a previous article, I go into more detail on nutrients; It would be worth a read to familiarise yourself with the basics. This will allow you to extract the most out of your meal prep for health AND performance.
Training and weight loss
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. I know that you want to lose weight. But this should NOT be at the detriment of your quality of life and training. The ultimate goal here should be to lose weight and maintain the level of progress for the long-term.
For many, sustained weight loss has become a bit of a holy grail. The apparent inevitability of regaining the weight you lost is a bleak start to any workout plan.
The ‘all or nothing’ fallacy.
How many times have you heard, or said ‘I’m all or nothing’ when it comes to food? Meaning your workout meals form part of an aggressive diet to reach your goal only to regress back to your original body condition soon after. Does this sound familiar? I’m sure it does to a lot of you.
In reality, you are not ‘all or nothing’. What you do not have is a strong connection to all food and how it helps you to function and perform to your best. When you connect ANY method of nutrition in workout meals (low carb, high carb, high fat, low fat, etc.) with a positive emotional connection, then the positive results follow, and guess what? You maintain the weight loss!
The first step is to undertake your nutritional audit. This will give you a solid foundation on the what’s, when’s and why’s of nutrition for your goal.
Once you have a solid understanding of the different nutrients and how they fit into your goal, you can then begin to implement a few little nutritional hacks to your workout meals to extract the most out of your day. These tips are not just exclusive to using a meal prep service. They can be implemented whatever your chosen method of nutritional preparation.
Before I go into the tips; a note to consider. There is no perfect daily nutrition plan. Where and when you place your food will depend on a number of factors, including sleep quality, work patterns, when you train (time of day), and of course, personal preference.
These tips are here if you wish to extract a few extra percent out of your training by optimising your workout meals.
Consider a protein and fat breakfast over carbohydrates.
There are a number of benefits of having a breakfast comprising of mainly protein and fats over carbohydrates, whether it’s one of your pre workout meals or just for a productive day at work. This could be an egg-based breakfast, one comprising of yoghurt, or even meat and fish! The protein will keep you satiated (full) while the fats within the meal will aid in better brain function. This means potentially improved mindset and focus throughout the day.
If you prefer your oats or toast in the morning, then that is absolutely fine. But consider this: How do you feel when you have eaten a particular carb-heavy meal? Full of energy? Or sleepy?
Sleepy right? So, wouldn’t it make sense to utilise your carbs at a time where relaxation will benefit you?!
workout meals: A little before. More after.
It’s time to train. You’re getting ready to sweat hard, lift heavy, and make some progress. This is where adding carbohydrates to your workout meals can play their part in your best session. As you may know, carbohydrates are our first port of call when it comes to energy. They give us the immediate hit of energy we need to train hard, for longer.
Do you need to ‘carb load’ way before the workout? Not necessarily. To utilise a full 300-400 grams of carbohydrate stored in muscle tissue, 90 minutes of exercise or more needs to be undertaken. If you are doing a 45-60 minute class or gym session, your pre workout meals do not need to be full of carbs.
Remember, for weight loss we want to utilise a larger percentage of body fat for fuel. This means we need to use almost all available carbohydrates before the body finds an alternative source.
I recommend ingesting a small portion of carbohydrates around an hour to 90 minutes before the workout. Then, once completed, the recovery process begins. Carbohydrates and protein will help to stimulate the growth and repair processes. So eat good post workout meals that includes more of these and slightly fewer fats.
Want better sleep? Keep your carbs for the last meal.
Here are a few questions for you around sleep. I bet that most, if not all of you will answer yes to at least one of the following.
- Struggle to get to sleep?
- Wake up in the night?
- Feel sluggish when you wake up?
I know, sleep is a problem for many. Stress, anxiety, and pressures of the day add up. They can have a catastrophic effect on sleep; and poor sleep means poor performance.
Did you know that carbs can actually help improve your sleep? Dramatically so too! Sleep and performance go hand in hand. When you recover better, you train better. And when you train harder, you generally sleep better.
It’s that simple.
Also, as we all know. The best tasting foods are generally carbohydrate-based. When you know your last meal of the day will include foods that stimulate the taste buds (making you feel good), help you sleep, AND help you train harder the next day, it’s a win-win!
Food and preference.
Eating for any goal should consider personal preference. Why? If you follow something consistently, generally the outcome follows. This is no different for weight loss. You want your workout meals to allow you to focus on the habits that help you progress. This includes training hard.
However, if you want to take your training and results on just that little bit further, look at implementing these small hacks. Trust me, they will give you the little boost you need to achieve your goal.