It is everything!
The most important aspect of you training will be how you eat. It doesn't matter what you do in the gym. If you don't manage the proper nutrients to support your exercises it will take longer for you to achieve your goals.
You can read and educate yourself until the cows come home on nutrition. That's the easy part. Applying what you have learned is the hard part.
Food preparation, time, portion sizes...etc...
Most of us don't have time to eat properly. Learning to manage your time when it comes to your food is a fundamental rule of health and fitness.
Almost every person I talk to about the subject can give me practically the same answers related to food. We all know...most of the time just by looking at the food or what food establishment we walk into if the food is good for us.
On that same note most of us can look at the portion sizes and tell if it's too much food.
Because your nutrition is the foundation to a healthy you...let's look at what and how you will need to prepare yourself to adapt to this new way of eating.
- Time: Do you have the time to eat what we have all heard 5-7 small meals per day.
- Daily food prep: Does your personal schedule allow time (let's say at the end of each day) to prepare your food at night for the following day. This technique will help you stay the course to proper food portions, timing and choices.
- Food convenience: Do you have the type of job (i.e. Nurse staff or medical Dr.) that will allow for food breaks and nutrition intake. Sometimes those types of professions don't allow for any breaks or meal times.
- Shopping & Cooking: Learning not only what you like or dislike about foods, learning to prepare them without spending all day or night in the kitchen is a challenge in it's self.
- Sticking to it: Once you have dedicated and mastered the above points...can you stay in the game? Sure life gets in the way and you can't "play by the rules" all the time, but understanding consistence and good habits will still over come and days of poor nutrition.
- Cheat days: Absolutely take them! Now you're probably thinking..."Tony what do you mean"? Let me explain...you are human. Not a machine. You need a break (just like anything else) from life's daily routines. Going out to indulge on some of our favorite snacks, junk food, sweets and alcohol let us know life is good!!!
When implementing cheat days try to observe the following:
- Eat "cheats" on a day when you know you are training that day or at least the following morning.
- Have your cheats before the gym...not after.
- Have small moderate cheat portion sizes...all you need is enough to satisfy the craving...not the whole pizza!
- Kick butt in the gym that day. Maybe 1 extra set per exercise...or an extra 15 minutes of cardio.
- Schedule cheat days. This will not only help with your scheduling good days, but it will help keeping you on the path without having too many cheat days per week.
- Change you cheat foods. Try not to always have ice cream every Friday night...your body will adapt to this behavior...keep the body always guessing.
Now looking past or cheat days...
We all should be familiar with Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats, Right?
This is where it gets hard.
Learning your body type:
Ectomorph, Endomorph or Mesomorph will affect the proper food you will need to intake.
To find your body type: (Best resource info)
Because you can search the internet all day long on what's health and what's not...
I am going to leave the homework up to you. I will elaborate briefly on each, but remember the real challenge on nutrition is the application of not only the food, but time management and commitment as well.
I have included informative web links at the end of each topic for your review and to help you save time.
Also remember even though are bodies are designed the same we all do not process food the same...so some foods that are deemed healthy for you may not be a selected choice depending on current health or medical status.
I strongly suggest you consult your doctor and/or a licensed dieation to evaluate your current health status while advancing your nutrition and calorie intake.
So moving forward let's look at the "basics" of what you will need...
Protein: Protein is crucial because it's made up of amino acids, which our bodies use to repair and build your muscles, red blood cells, enzymes and other tissues.
(i.e.)Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Beans, Tofu, Eggs and of course Protein Shakes
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are utilized for energy, both instant and sustained. When insufficient carbohydrates are taken in, the body must utilize proteins for energy even to the point of catabolizing muscle tissue for energy.
There are three types of carbohydrates, Monosaccharides, Disaccharides and Polysaccharides. Monosaccharides are simple sugars and are the basic unit of carbohydrate.
Examples of Monosaccharides are glucose and fructose. Disaccharides are composed of two Monosaaccharides.
Examples of Disaccharides are table sugar (sucrose) which is composed of fructose and glucose also milk sugar (lactose) which is composed of glucose and galactose.
Polysaccharides are composed of multiple Monosaccharides.
Examples of Polysaccharides are starches (bread, fruit, grain, pasta, rice). These are also known as Complex Carbohydrates.
Fats: Fat is required for the production of cell membranes, blood lipids (body fat), bile (fat emulsifier), steroids and vitamin D. Fats molecules are made up of glycerol and fatty acids.
Body fat is also instrumental in body temperature regulation as insulation. Minimum body fat percentages of 7% for men and 12% for women are recommended. Fats are also utilized for the transport and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. In addition, fats are the only source of linoleic acid, which is required for skin growth and maintenance. Minimum daily requirement for unsaturated fat is 10 grams and 15 grams is preferred.
Calories: I do not promote calorie counting however you can learn more at: