After all the Christmas and New Year’s indulgence it’s probably safe to say that a health kick is just what your body will need this month! Whether you’re heading back to the health and fitness regime after a little break or are new to this whole fitness thing, it’s important to remember that no matter how many hours you put in at the gym, you won’t get the results you really want if your diet isn’t right.
If your aim is weight loss, you need to be making sure you’re eating less calories. It’s that simple. This also means that just because you worked out for an hour in the gym and burnt 500 calories you can’t then go and ‘treat yourself’ to a chocolate bar. You’ll just put those calories back on and all that work will have been for nothing. The most healthy way to lose weight is through steady weight loss, ideally losing between 1-2 lbs per weeks. This type of weight loss only actually requires you to drop between 250-400 calories from your daily intake so you really don’t need to force yourself onto an extreme diet to see good results. Granted it will take longer, but the results are much more sustainable and you will have a much higher chance of keeping the weight off. If you plan to include activity as part of your weight loss plan, make sure that you are eating enough calories to sustain you through a workout. If you find that you’re becoming light-headed, exhausted and unable to really go for it when you exercise you should consider eating something extra on workout days. Grab an extra piece of fruit to give you that extra push to get you through your session. Bananas are a great source of extra energy and they are also loaded with potassium which keeps your muscles, nerves and brain healthy.
If your goal is muscle growth this year you’re going to need to bulk up your diet! Depending on how much muscle you want to gain, you should be adding between 300-500 calories onto your intake. These calories of course need to be full of nutritional value – which sadly means an extra portion of fries doesn’t count! For muscle growth, your diet needs to be rich in protein, healthy fats and carbs – avoiding white carbs and going for the whole grain stuff instead. Make white meats and fish a big part of your diet and load up on the fruit and veg to give your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs to repair and recover itself after each workout for optimum muscle growth.
Whether you’re changing your changing your diet for weight loss or for muscle growth, one thing that can really help both sides is to eat little often. Instead of sticking to the traditional three set meals a day routine, break up your eating to 5 or 6 times a day but with smaller portions. The idea is that this will prevent hunger pangs and cravings so you are a lot less likely to end up at the vending machine!
Changing your diet can be hard, but by sticking with it you’ll notice huge changes in not only your appearance but also your overall health. Ignore the fad diets, because they may work to start with but they can be very hard to sustain over a long period of time and you’re far more likely to end up back at square one.