Eat for Results!
Aesthetically speaking, the effects of increasing your muscle mass will be easiest to see once you have reduced your body fat percentage. You may have heard the expression “abs are made in the kitchen”, if you have a thick layer of fat over your muscles, you can work out really hard but still find them hard to see.
Try not to be discouraged, your muscles are there and they are growing but you will find it hard to see them till you reduce your body fat. They will actually grow a lot faster if you allow yourself to eat plenty and then address the body fat once you’ve made some progress. Not everyone can be that patient though!
For those actively trying to reduce their body fat your diet is incredibly important, many people give up on exercise when their fat doesn’t disappear. There are certain nutritional strategies you can follow to help maximize your training results. You’ve heard it before but everything in moderation.
Don’t make the mistake of cutting carbs out of your diet and then feeling weak and light headed during your workout. You will get a better workout if you have the energy that carbs give you, starve yourself and you won’t be working as hard as you could be. Also, do some research about your macro nutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fats), if you think eating white rice is better than eating candy, you’re not necessarily right, your body basically turns that rice into sugar once you’ve eaten it. And if you think you’re not eating carbs but are eating fruit and fruit-based foods, I’m sorry but you are.
Consume protein before and after your work out. You want to have some protein before so that it is immediately available to start repairing your muscles when your body needs it…drive home from the gym and fix yourself a meal and you are missing the beginning of the window.
Don’t avoid fats, they are good for your brain, your skin, your digestion and they give you energy. Processed foods that are low in fat are often full of sugar and salt.
Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the nutritional information on the food that you buy and try keeping a food diary if you are serious about making a change. It can be eye opening to find out where your daily calories come from and sometimes there are very simple changes you can make to your diet that over time have a dramatic effect on your body fat/lean body mass ratio. There are some great apps for tracking food available for smart phones which will also help you to calculate what you should be aiming for daily depending on your sex, height, age and activity level in terms of macro nutrients and calories.
Be generally suspicious of supplements or pills promising to change your body weight, especially those that don’t require a change in your diet. If it seems too good to be true it usually is.
Some people find going to a registered dietician or nutritionist very helpful. They are qualified to give you a specially designed meal plan, different dietitians/nutritionists will work in different ways and one approach won’t work for every person so if you aren’t convinced first time around, try another professional. Don’t count on your trainer for nutrition advice if you want a specialized diet plan, we are not qualified just because we have training certifications. Some trainers have completed other courses and have specialized nutritional training, ask your trainer if they do, if not they should be able to give you the name of a professional who can answer your questions in more detail. You can usually count on your certified personal trainer for generalized information about macro nutrients and recommended calorie consumption.