Whatever your goal in the , you won’t be able to neglect your for too long. It’s quite evident that what you has a big impact on how you look, feel and perform, but when you is also extremely important. This is when ‘workout ‘ comes in. Given that the time you put into your workout is largely wasted if you don’t make an effort with your , this ‘when’ becomes quite important so that you get the right kind of fuel to both manage your during the workout and then provide your with the right to recover post training.
Fortunately, there is already a largeof research and knowledge around workout . What’s not so great is that the health and fitness industry has done a great job at taking this wealth of information and creating total confusion. But although it is a big topic to unpack, it’s also easier to understand than you may think.
What’s the optimal workout nutrition strategy?
First and foremost, we have to consider why you need to think about workout nutrition at all. The primary goal is to fuel your training session and provide your with vitamins, and building blocks to hydrate, preserve/build , speed up recovery and boost .
What to eat?
The true (and terribly annoying!) answer is: ….well it depends. There are a lot of factors to consider, including:
- Are you a general goer or athlete;
- Your age;
- Are you a hardgainer or looking to lose weight;
- Are you for performance or aesthetics;
- What kind of knowledge and/or budget are you working with;
- What kind of exercise are you doing presently, and so on
These things really matter and make a big difference, but let’s first move through a step-by-step guide on how to figure out your needs, based on your activity level, body type and current.
I guess the key takeaway is that the fitness industry is drowning in opinions. Take any magazine or website and you will see hundreds of fitness pros with their own opinion or specific results-guaranteed ‘formula’.
Truth is, there is never just ‘one way’!
Even scientific research can still be called into question for various reasons; for example, we now know that the studies that got everyone believing there is only a very tight window of opportunity to get your post-workoutwere not quite accurate.
Over the years, we have certain tried and tested principles that are now proven to be fairly universal, but at the end of the day, every individual is unique and any advice should be tested first, rather than being adopted without question. You just can’t get around this.
So let’s make this more practical now and look at some simple steps you can follow to figure out what you need.
Start by thinking about three things:
Your Current Diet & Lifestyle:
Are youfor a specific sport? Do you understand the basics of ? Are you consistent? Do you know how to track macros? Is it necessary to get specific to reach your goals?
If you’re exercising for general fitness, health and/orthe honest answer is that you probably don’t need any specific workout strategies when it comes to workout . Your primary goal is to support your by ensuring you manage portion size and optimise intake to eliminate any deficiencies. What does this all mean? It means you need to meet the basics of good : good quality protein, a variety of vegetables, whole , nuts, seeds, healthy fats and fruits. And from there, it’s just rinse and repeat.
From this point, you can look to adjust from various angles and approaches. We will zone in on two: yourtype, and the type of you are doing.
Your body type:
Building on point one, a good starting point is to manage yourbased on your type and this starts with figuring out what type you think you are; ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph.
There are so many resources online to figure this out, but to sum up very quickly:
- Ectomorph: Your typical hard gainer, usually thin build, long limbs, small frame and struggles to gain weight.
- Mesomorph: The mid range curvy type, athletic build. Somewhere in the middle. Narrower waist and wider hips
- Endomorph: Big boned, thicker joints, struggles to and generally bigger, stocky build.
Please note that this isn’t black and white and a lot of people fall somewhere in between. You just need a general idea.
So working from there you have your basic guideline for mainas follows:
- Good quality protein like fish, poultry, meat, eggs or soy (1 palm for women, 2 palms men)
- At least 2 cups of colourful vegetables
- 1 tbsp good quality oil/fat
Based on your body type, we can adjust this basic guideline as follows:
- Ectomorph: Usually more carb tolerant and so can add 2 (3 for men) cups of whole to the plate and 0.5 tbsp fat (1 tbsp for men)
- Mesomorph: For the mid range shape add 1 cup of whole (2 for men) and round up fat to 1tbsp (2tbsp for men)
- Endomorph: Usually less carb tolerant and more happy to run on fat. So add 0.5 cup grains (1 cup for men) and 2 tbsp fat (3 for men).
This is a guideline only and to serve as your starting point from which you can adjust with trial and error.
Regardless of body type, your ability to handle carbs will change/improve depending on the type ofyou are doing, which brings us to point three.
The average person need only focus on food quality, adequate fuel and consistency, but if you are an amateur or professional athlete and have specificgoals and needs, it is best to focus a bit more to adjust the above to fit your programme. So an endurance runner or CrossFit athlete will have higher overall calorie and also carbohydrate needs, while a bodybuilder might need more protein, and so on.
- How many hours of you do per week and split across how many days?
- Is your geared more towards cardio or strength?
- Are you for performance or for aesthetics primarily?
- What is your caloric intake requirement and are you able to easily meet it?
If you want to move beyond just the basics and/or if you train over two hours per day, you need to look at workoutin more detail. You may benefit from adding a shake/snack consisting of around 15 grams protein and 30 grams carbs as a start. However, the following simple steps might also help, bearing in mind this is only necessary if you are for something specific and/or have performance-based goals:
- You can calculate your approximate caloric needs based on activity level via the simple BMR formula, like the one here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/#result
- Using the guidelines in point number two, spend a week or so tracking your in an app like myfitnesspal to get an idea of average caloric intake and macro split.
- At the end of the week, take some time to reflect on how you think you did and whether you felt energised during your . If not, why not? Try to spot some basic patterns such as whether you are enough, skipping , missing a certain etc.
- Finally, you need to adjust as you feel. This is a subjective exercise and takes a bit of work, so be patient.
Would you like to learn more about sports nutrition? Check out our Sports Nutrition Course for Weight Control & Performance (starting soon)!