Good afternoon my lovelies and i hope we’ve worked up some sweat and gotten down to our stretching. If not, well what are you waiting for? Start taking care of your body now and it will reward you for it in the future, trust me.
Now, onto my affirmation for today. I’m so excited because i even went all fancy and got myself some colorful sticky notes that i’m going to be sticking on my affirmation board a.k.a my bedroom door, that way they’re the first thing i see when i get out of my room in the morning and the last thing i see before i switch off the lights at night. When you can’t get the much needed push and motivation from around you, make steps to start with yourself and then everyone else will join in later.
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
-Psalm 20:1-3, The Bible
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
So you’re done with your workout or you’re just about to get into it and you’re wondering just what you can fuel up with to get you going. Don’t worry, Eli’s got you. Today we’ll be talking about the common food groups, how each is tailor made to help us get through those workouts, and down to how these foods help us recover and show the progress we’ve been working so hard for. At the end of the day as i have said before, you are what you eat, and it doesn’t matter how many crunches you’re doing, if you’re still chugging down those boxes of pizza, those abs are always going to be the unreachable dream.
Don’t worry, i’ll try and keep it short and to the point. No long winded comments.
So to begin with, what are the basic food groups? Well, we have our Carbohydrates that are foods rich in starch. Their main benefit is giving the body energy, calcium and Vitamin B which keep the body moving, bones strong and fatigue at bay. Whole grains also fall in here and help to keep the digestive system healthy and working.
We also have your Dairy that keep bones teeth and nails healthy. They are also digested quickly for maximum nutrient retention. Proteins come in when the body is in need of repair and growth. Then of course the Fruits and Vegetables that are rich in fibre, vitamins and antioxidants for cleaning up the body and pumping it up with those good old nutrients. Finally we have our Fats that come in last but certainly not least. These give extra energy and help in the optimum running of the body. They include your saturated and unsaturated fats.
How is all of this important in your workout journey you ask? Well every time you lift those weights burn that fat or sprint and stretch those muscles and joints, there is repetitive wear and tear both internally and externally. Your muscles expand and contract, your joints ache and bones are strained, fat is depleted and energy is usurped. With all of this activity, the body requires replenishing of what has been altered through rigorous training and exercise. That is where our food group knowledge comes in.
You need to be able to know which foods will give you energy to do cardio and strength training, what to take to repair those muscles from all your weigh lifting and running, and which meals aid in recovery to ensure that the body not only repairs itself but goes back to a state of optimum performance. So let’s break it down a little more with the information we’ve just learnt up there. As always, LIST!!!!! Haha.
1. PROTEIN – BUILD THAT MUSCLE
Protein is present in muscle, bone, connective tissue, skin and blood. Outside of the body you can find it in your meats, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, peas, lentils and soya. Because it is contained in most of the essential parts of the body necessary for movement like the bones and muscle, it is a staple that should find its way into your meals as much as possible depending on your workout routine. We will discuss specifics of amounts and percentages with time, but for now, protein should debut on your plate especially to aid in growing and building muscle and repairing them as they wear out.
There is however the trend that has been going around propagating a massive intake of protein to ensure bigger muscles. Here is where that trend should end my lovelies. Unless you’re doing high intensive strength training with as minimal cardio as possible to enable Muscle Hypertrophy (muscle growth), then you’re simply adding more body fat and frustrating your hard earned progress. On the other hand also, if you’ve trimmed the fat and now you’re doing a lot of high Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and don’t replenish with an equally large amount of protein intake, then you’re basically forcing your body to feed on those hard earned muscles, and no matter how hard you work, you’re just going to be getting skinnier.
It’s therefore important to ensure that you tailor your meals to your workouts. If you want maximum growth with maximum retention of muscle, you have to intake a lot of protein, however if you workout is more inclined to staying lean and trimming fat, then small portions with your meals throughout the day will be best.
The best proteins to incorporate include but are not limited to; Chicken breast, turkey, salmon, tuna, lean ground/minced beef and egg whites.
Creating your meal plan to incorporate a portion of protein per meal will ensure that those muscles are repaired and not worn out after all your hard work. Increasing the portion according to your workout needs will also ensure that you reap the most benefits.
2. CARBOHYDRATES – ENERGIZE THAT BODY
These come in the range of pasta, rice, oats, potatoes, noodles, yam, green bananas, sweet potatoes, millet, couscous, bread, breakfast cereal barley and rye, but different as they may all seem, the fact remains, Carbs are your BFF if you’re working out.
Forget the campaigns telling you to skip the carbs and the ‘low carbs’ diets propagated by television and no they’re not just for bodybuilders, we all need them. Why? Because you need energy to burn fat and build muscle and nothing packs energy more than good old carbs.
Whether you’re looking to trim that excess weight, build muscle or doing your morning runs, or even simply staying fit at home, you need a slow and steady release of energy to keep you going throughout the workout, otherwise you’ll always burn out quickly because you’ll be running your body without fuel. It’s all about quantities however.
Eating a banana, whole wheat bread and peanut butter sandwich for instance before your workout gives you an extra kick of energy, raises your potassium levels that are normally lost when you sweat, and helps you build your endurance because you have stored up enough energy in the body. The same goes for any other workout routine, high intensity or beginner, you need to make sure that the body is energized enough to do the work otherwise you’ll give up because it’s too hard and you’re too tired, when in actual fact, it’s all because you aren’t eating right.
Some of the best Carbs to get you started include; Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat bread, squash, pumpkin, oatmeal (whole oats) and whole wheat bread (Confirm the ingredients though to ensure that it’s genuine whole wheat).
Feel free to incorporate black pepper and other herbs to season your potatoes and squash/pumpkin. Baking is always preferred to deep frying because you also don’t want to downgrade a good meal with too much fat.
3. FAT – THE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT
Yes you heard me, i said Fat. But why would i need to add more fat when i’m looking to burn fat you may ask. Well, not all fat is bad. In fact the body cannot run effectively without it, because it needs fat to keep it going. Needs fat? Yes! But not just any fat. Unsaturated fat. Saturated fats are not bonded and hard to dissolve thus tend to clog up the arteries when transported by the blood, but unsaturated fat actually protect against heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels and providing the body with extra energy.
The rule of law to know which fat is good or bad for you is simple, if it’s solid in room temperature, it’s saturated=Bad, however if it’s liquid at room temperature, then it’s unsaturated=Good. What saturated basically means is that it is harder to dissolve as opposed to the unsaturated fat that dissolves easily.
The aim however at the end of the day is not to completely get rid of body fat, because after all it is important in helping with insulation of heat, maintaining beautiful hair, skin and nails, the production of hormones and adds a bit of softness as opposed to a body completely made of muscle, kind of like the extreme bodybuilders.
The best unsaturated fats to go for include Olive oil, flax seed oil and sesame oil.
These go well over baked meals and salads as well as stir fry as they are light oils which have no cholesterol.
4. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – BOOST AND CLEAN UP
It is no secret that fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre, antioxidants and vitamins that that boost the body’s performance and prevent deficiencies arising from the lack thereof. Unlike other meals, fruits and vegetables fill you up faster and are digested quicker, making them a better alternative in terms of controlling weight and keeping lean. Bananas for instance pack the best energy kick just before a workout and make for a good snack after. Green smoothies with kale, flax/chia seeds, avocado and pineapple also do a great job at not only cleaning out the digestive system, but also refreshing the body and energizing it. Just note that eating the fruit gives more benefit that the processed juice. Natural is best after all.
Kale, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, carrots, grapes, bananas, watermelon, kiwi, avocado and citrus fruits among others.
You can always chop them up and divide the portions according to what you intend to make i.e salads, stir fry, then store them in the fridge and take them out when you need them. You can also just go ahead and cook them and store them in air tight containers. This makes work so much easier on those days when you’re too lazy to start cooking.
5. WATER – HYDRATE
Your body is after all 90% water, so it is not only important but vital to always drink water before, during and after your workout to hydrate and keep things working adequately. There is no better moisturizer than water, and stocking up on maximum moisture ensures lubrication inside the body and out onto the skin. Water also helps to maintain regular body functions such as digestion, improve skin complexion and flush out toxins from the body, therefore drink up and let all of that bad stuff flow out.
A glass after every 15-20 minutes of exercise is recommended depending on the intensity, but always remember to fill up your 1 liter of water and sip through the day as you go about your normal routines.
In conclusion therefore;
- Remember to always eat small frequent meals instead of few large ones to curb hunger and hasten digestion that helps to burn the fewer calories faster, raising your metabolism naturally.
- Prepare your meals in advance. This helps to deal with ordering take out because you can quickly and easily pop it out the fridge or microwave your prepped meal portion or salad.
- Season your meat and refrigerate it the night before so that it’s tastier when you cook it the next day.
- Don’t deny yourself that slice of cake today for a whole tier tomorrow. Reward yourself after a good workout once in a while with a small portion of what you like but get right back on track.
- Chew slowly and serve small helpings. This way you will stop when you are full.
- Don’t skip meals. This will most definitely lead to overeating when the hunger finally hits.
- Keep a food journal. This will help you keep track of what is going into your body as well as what to alter.
In a nutshell, that’s about it. At this point it’s all about willing to do what you need to do to make that change in your life. I’m not saying start with everything all at once, because we all know how rapid change ends quickly. But try at least to change your lifestyle one thing at a time. Start with the cooking oil, move to the bread, then to adding veggies, and slowly you’ll find yourself eating the way you need to without a lot of strain.
So get your journals out and start logging in your meals, you’ll be surprised how much seeing things as they are motivates you to change, and of course i’d love to share this journey with you, so share with me your progress, i’d definitely love to hear how it goes for you.
Until then, stay safe, keep smiling and eat healthy.