Working hard, and undergoing intensive training is great. Whether it be for men’s fitness or women’s fitness, the level of dedication that is required is highly admirable. It is a true commitment to self-improvement, and it is also testimony as to the extremes that the human body can be pushed. Most individuals do it for the rewards, be they the endorphin rush, or the healthier physique. But what many are failing to realize is that what you do away from the gym, what and when you eat, and how you look after your body through nutrition, is equally if not more important than your efforts after swiping your flexible gym pass. Moreover, the gains that people are seeing or achieving are often reduced or even negated because they fail to properly focus on this key area.
Here we look at the relationship between diet and high-intensity training, and what changes you will need to incorporate into your time outside the gym, to get the most out of your time there. Fed up with the prospect that you have been wasting energy, then read on.
High-intensity training is rather accessible. It offers the prospects of better gains, in a shorter period – the age-old, ‘more for less’ argument. Your fitness improves quicker as do all the associated health benefits. You improve cardiovascular health, so a happy heart, you can reduce fat levels, and have improved insulin sensitivity within the body. While nutritional requirements will fluctuate between individuals, there are some basic rules regarding diet and nutrition that are probably best applied by all.
The basic nutritional guidelines steer you away from processed carbohydrates and foods high in refined sugar, and towards meals centered around whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. The best plans ensure that you have sufficient calories to function and undertake increased activity too. Insufficient calorie intake can lead the body into stripping itself of protein, directly from its muscle mass to fuel the exercise.
Not eating enough is one of the fundamental flaws in consumption for high-intensity training routines. Your body expends energy and needs a source to burn, and can take its internal supply if pushed too far. This is why lean protein is essential in any diet. One other fundamental mistake is a lack of hydration, which can cause the irreparable body damage if pushed while dehydrated. You must always consume water, remembering that you lose extra through extra hard training.
Always eat breakfast, there isn’t any excuse not to. It gets the body firing and encourages the continual burning of calories. Bodies starved of calories may look to store any ingested food as fat, in case the starvation continues.
Pre workout, you should ideally eat 3-4 hours before the start. Too early and it is wasted, too late, and you are training while full. Think of a basis of carbohydrate with added protein. Examples include whole wheat toast with peanut butter, or hummus and pitta bread. A high carbohydrate snack, such as a banana may be good up to an hour before you start training.
Your body has been pushed, energy stores are low, and muscles have been stretched, and have suffered damage (note not injury) through exertion. You need to refuel and to do so with the right type of fuel too so that the “damage” can be properly repaired.
Suggested meals include hummus and wholemeal pitta bread, wholegrain cereal with soya milk or whole-wheat crackers with fruit and cheese (not too much cheese).
You are replenishing energy stores (glycogen), as well as repairing these muscles that have been pushed to the limit. You need to ingest good levels of protein for the muscles and carbohydrates for the glycogen. A ratio of 3:1 carbohydrates: protein is a good basis for any meal. It is also best to consume around 30-60 minutes post workout and no more than 2 hours. Otherwise, the window will have been missed.
Eating is one of the major components of high-intensity training. In fact, it is at the very least on an equal footing with the exercise itself. So while you may think that getting your flexible gym pass stamped is crucial, so is getting your nutrition both pre and post workout. Do not think of it as exercise and diet, perhaps think of it as a lifestyle; one multidimensional element to a healthier you. Yes, you have to train hard in the gym, but if you also eat right away from the gym and concentrate on pre and post workout meals too, then you will begin to see the difference. After all, if you are going to put in all of that effort, isn’t it sensible to also put in a little thought as well?