Exercising and diet are, without a doubt, two sides of the same coin. You have to spend an equal amount of time in your kitchen as you do in the gym!
After all, what the gym takes out of your body, your diet puts back in. If you just exercise without considering your diet, you may not only extremely undermine your progress but also negatively impact your overall health.
Because of this, it is important to start matching your diet with the fitness goals you have. It doesn’t matter whether those goals are gaining muscles, losing fat, or just staying healthy, there is a diet for every type of fitness goal.
So, if you need help matching your diet with fitness goals, here is a guide for you.
Eating For Health
Before we start talking about matching your diet with fitness goals such as bulking or cutting, let us first talk about health. That is, let us talk about eating for health. The food you eat fuels your body. Because of that, it must be balanced and healthy. For instance, some of the foods that will support your fitness goals, and most importantly, your health are:
- Whole Grains
- Healthy Fats
- Lean Meats
When you buy these foods, make sure they are not processed! Some of the worst foods you can consume is processed food as it is packed with calories and often very unhealthy. So, if possible, look for foods that have no other ingredient in them. If you have to buy something canned or boxes, read the label first. The shorter the label, the healthier the food!
Eating For Bulking
If you ask Personal Trainers, they will all tell you the same thing – when it comes to increasing the muscle mass, that is, bulking, besides the high volume weight training, you must also increase the intake of good quality foods. That means calorie surplus and a diet rich in nutrients.
If you want your muscles to grow, you have to give them enough calories. Muscles don’t grow out of lifting, they grow out of calories! But, how many calories are actually enough? Well, it is rather simple – if you are a woman consuming 1500 calories, or a man consuming 2000 calories a day, you will both need a surplus of 500 calories each day to gain 1 Ib per week. Or, you can start smaller, for instance:
- surplus of 375kcal per day – gain 0.75 lbs per week
- surplus of 250kcal per day – gain 0.5 lbs per week
- surplus of 125kcal per day – gain 0.25 lbs per week
But, just as previously mentioned, besides watching your calorie intake, you must also bring some healthy eating habits to your life. That is, you must be careful of what you eat. Yes, that applies to bulking too! In order to gain muscle, you must consume protein the most. Protein is what builds those muscles. So, eat lean meats, dairy products, eggs, and legumes. Moreover, for muscle growth, you must also consume enough healthy fats (olive oil, seeds, nuts, fish) and carbohydrates (bread, quinoa, oats, etc.).
Eating for Cutting
Cutting is a term most fitness enthusiasts refer to as the process of losing fat and maintaining muscles. Yes, it is mostly used by bodybuilders, but, it can be used by anybody who wants to lose some weight and have a great figure. When cutting, people do high-intensity workouts or HIITs, and often some sort of cardio.
This may sound easy, but matching your diet with fitness goals such as this one takes some knowledge. Namely, to lose fat, that is, to lose some of your body weight, you have to be in a constant calorie deficit. For instance:
- You have to be in 250 calorie deficit to lose 0.5 lbs per week
- You have to be in 500 calorie deficit to lose 1 Ib per week
- You have to be in 750 calorie deficit to lose 1.5 lbs per week
- You have to be 1000 calorie deficit to lose 2 lbs per week
These are some serious deficits, so, if you don’t know what you are doing, better talk to a professional. You can hire a nutritionist or a fitness trainer to come up with your personal meal plans that will contain all the nutrients you need for your body (and brain) to function properly and still be in the deficit phase. Remember – adequate nutrition is essential when being in calorie deficits (and surpluses)!
Speaking of adequate nutrition, while being in a calorie deficit, you should mostly eat proteins. Proteins give that feeling of being full without having too many calories in them. So, fill your diet with a lot of lean meats, beans, and eggs.
However, keep in mind that, no matter what, your diet must be versatile. Thus, besides proteins, eat smaller amounts of fats and carbohydrates as well. When eating meat, for example, put some rice or potatoes, and a lot of low-calorie vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, carrot, etc., on your plate. Balance is the key!
As you have seen, matching your diet with your fitness goals is not that easy. Well, it is, but only when you learn all about the proper foods and proper amounts.
So, before you start your fitness journey, educate yourself. Give yourself time to learn about different exercises and diets, and most importantly, give yourself time to learn how to be healthy. That is how you adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
And, just like said before, if you don’t know what you are doing, or if you don’t have the time and patience to learn everything exercise and nutrition-related, seek professional help.
Professional trainers can teach what kind of exercise you can do to match your fitness goal and how not to hurt yourself while doing so, and nutritionists can teach you what to eat and how much of it to eat to, again, reach your fitness goal.