Getting and staying fit takes a tremendous toll on the body, and how you feed your muscles plays a big part in how effective your workout is. So take advice straight to the source, the experts who spend every day pushing their bodies to the max in order to stay in peak form: professional athletes. Here are their best tips on how to fuel your body to get the most out of your workouts and eating habits:
1. Keep your meals balanced. There are certain nutrients your body needs to gain muscle, and your best bet is to get some out of every meal. Include servings of protein, carbs, and healthy fats in everything you eat to help your body recover from your last workout and get ready for the next one.
2. Eat three meals a day. Most of us think in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but athletes break their day into: breakfast, preworkout, and postworkout, plus lots of snacks in between. And, they never EVER miss a meal.
- Breakfast: Always eat breakfast, even if you exercise first thing in the morning. Even if you don’t feel hungry, your body is, and your workout won’t be half as effective if you don’t fuel before a training session.
- Preworkout: Think of your body as an engine. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to make it go if there’s no fuel to burn. Without food in your system your muscles are hungry, which means that they perform less efficiently and so you’ll gain less muscle and burn less fat.
- Postworkout: After a workout it’s all about replacing what you’ve used. That means carbs for energy and protein to rebuild muscle. It’s important to have a snack within 30 minutes after finishing a session and a full meal within one to two hours.
3. Load up on carbs. While carbs has become a major in the world of dieting, that’s the stuff your body is burning when you works out. Pro athletes often eat 3x more carbs than protein in order to make sure they have plenty of calories to keep them going.
4. Choose nutrient dense foods. While some gym heads swear by their protein shakes, most athletes will tell you that if you eat right your body is be able to get everything it needs. Shakes and supplements should never replace a meal. Add more lean meats, poultry, seafood, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruits, and veggies to your diet before you ever start supplementing.
5. Chug sports drinks. But don’t forget that your calorie count includes the drinks you’re consuming. Athletes drink water to hydrate and only use sports drinks to boost sports performance during training sessions that last longer than 60 minutes.
It all comes down to is this: food is the key ingredient for fueling, refueling, and repairing your body. If you eat right your body will have everything it needs to perform when you want and how you want. But without proper nutrition, your training sessions will be less effective and you’ll be less likely to achieve the results you’re looking for.
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