How Much Does My Diet Affect My Workout Results at The Perfect Workout?
How Much Does My Diet Affect My Workout Results at The Perfect Workout?
You may have heard the phrase, “you can eat Twinkies all day and lose weight, as long as you’re eating the right amount of calories.”
While there's a glimmer of truth there, there’s so much more to what you eat and drink and how it affects your fitness results than just calories in vs. calories out.
Eating the right foods can make all the difference to your results at The Perfect Workout. Whether you're attempting to gain weight, lose weight, gain strength, or just improve your general fitness, eating a balanced diet rich in macro and micronutrients is an important part of any fitness plan.
In this article we cover why your diet matters, the simple equation for losing or gaining weight, what to eat before and after a workout, and more!
Your diet is thought to account for up to 80% of your fitness results.
The food we eat provides the energy we need for daily function but it also provides nutrients that are essential for growth, repair and maintenance of the body.
The type and quantity of food we eat can affect how much energy we use and how much fat we store. Understanding macronutrients can help with that.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients and one that gets a lot of praise in the health and fitness world.
Protein helps build muscle and keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time than other nutrients. Consider choosing lean sources of protein, such as chicken breast and tuna, over fatty meats such as hamburger patties or bacon.
Protein is especially important to focus on at The Perfect Workout because we are heavily focused on building lean muscle. In order to increase your muscle (and strength) it's important to consume a sufficient amount of protein to grow your muscles.
See our article on How Much Protein is Enough?
Carbs get a bad rap, but in fact we need carbs to sustain energy levels. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs.
A good rule of thumb is to choose whole foods such as vegetables and fruits and whole grains, while keeping refined grains and sugars to a minimum.
Dietary fat also gives your body energy and also helps to absorb vitamins.
Fat has twice as many calories per gram as proteins or carbohydrates, making it easy to gain weight with an excess of fat in your diet – so it's helpful to be aware of your fat consumption.
Consider choosing fat sources such as avocado, nuts, nut butters, and coconut oils.
Unless you already have specific macro goals to achieve each day, it might be best to focus on hitting just a protein goal, while staying within a caloric goal range… we’ll get into that later!
If you aren’t already seeing the results you’d like and want a better understanding of your own personal diet, we suggest observing how much of each macronutrient you are consuming on a regular basis. From there, you can alter your diet to better reach your goals.
Calories In vs. Calories Out
Although we don’t recommend solely focusing on calorie counting, the formula for losing or gaining weight is actually quite simple:
You burn calories by exercising and by simply being alive. You also burn more calories with additional activity. The more lean body mass (muscle tissue) and activity overall, the more calories burned.
By eating more calories than you burn, you gain weight.
By burning more calories than you eat, you lose weight.
If you want to lose weight, then reduce your calorie intake by increasing your activity levels (burning off more calories) or reducing both your calorie intake and increases in activity (burning off fewer calories).
In general, it takes 3,500 calories to make 1lb (0.45kg) of fat. If you reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day then you should lose about 1lb every week without making any changes to your exercise routine.
But there are many other factors that affect your body composition (how fat vs. how lean your body is). These include genes, hormones and the amount of physical activity you do — all of which can be influenced by what you eat and drink.
The type of food you eat also matters. A high-protein diet may help build muscle mass and preserve lean body mass during weight loss, while a high-carbohydrate diet may lead to more fat loss but less muscle gain.
In general, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, focus on eating whole foods in moderation rather than relying on packaged foods or fad diets that promise quick results with little effort required.
What to Eat Before and After a Workout
Fueling and refueling your body with the right nutrients after workouts will help maximize fitness gains.
What to Eat Before a Workout
If you have time before your workout, try eating foods that are high in carbohydrates or protein because they will give you energy for exercise.
Here are some pre-workout snacks to try:
- Greek Yogurt
What to Eat After Your Workout
Fueling up after a workout can help your muscles recover faster so they can get stronger. It's more important to hit your total daily protein intake than it is to have specific amounts of protein within a “window” of time after a workout. However, shooting to consume a high protein snack within about 30 minutes after exercise can be a helpful approach to getting in enough protein.
Carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables are ideal post-workout snacks because they replenish glycogen stores that were depleted during exercise. Protein helps rebuild damaged muscle tissue as well as repair small tears – we suggest prioritizing protein after your sessions.
Here are some post-workout snacks to try:
- Whey protein shake
- Vegan protein shake
- Deli turkey wrap
- Chicken breast and vegetables
- Salmon and sweet potato
- Tuna salad and crackers
- Cottage cheese and fruits
If you'd like help building these new healthy habits schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email jen.walsh@theperfectworkout.
How Much Water Do I Drink?
Most people vastly underestimate the amount of water they should be drinking on a regular basis. The human body consists of about 60% of water which is a glass we need to keep full.
On average, especially for fat loss, a typical day you should consume half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs.- you’d ideally want to drink 80oz of water daily.
Adequate amounts of water helps to:
- Lubricate our joints so that everything moves & runs smoothly
- Regulate body temperature which can be helpful in burning more fat
- Boosts metabolism
- Protects organs & tissue
- It helps clear our bladder and flushes out toxins in our system
It can take some time for your body to adjust to this, as well as planning on your part. Yes, we know you’ll be taking a few extra trips to the restroom, but think of it as your body’s way of getting rid of excess toxins and even fat! It’s worth it.
Your Diet Should Be Sustainable
It can be tempting to crash diet or make drastic changes in order to reach a goal faster. But we’d like to encourage you to NOT take the route. In order to make lasting change, you want the way you eat (and exercise) to be sustainable. Here are a few reasons why:
Most people who take rigorous approaches to changing their habits lose their progress in less than six months.
If you're struggling with weight gain or loss, consider making small changes in what and how much you eat and drink, rather than drastic changes all at once. You should be able to see results from these gradual changes over time.
Avoid eating too close to bedtime as this can make it difficult for your body to digest all those calories and may keep you awake during the night, affecting your sleep quality.
Also avoid processed foods such as white breads, pastries, cakes and biscuits which tend to be high in fat and sugar but low in nutritional value. If possible replace these with wholegrain alternatives.
Be AWARE of what you're eating and drinking if you want to get the most out of your workouts and fitness program.
While no diet is the same for everyone, the right diet for you will have a tremendous influence on your fitness results. If you want to see results, eat the right foods for your goal, choose nutrient-dense choices and keep foods with extra saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars to a minimum.
For weight gain, eat more calories than you burn. For weight loss, eat fewer calories than you burn. Fueling and refueling with the right nutrients after workouts will help maximize fitness gains. Be aware of what you are eating and drinking and customize your diet as necessary depending on your goals.
What you eat and drink absolutely affects your results, but it can be an experiment to find what works best for you. Try some of the suggestions above and tweak your approach as needed.
- Darden, E. (2008). Superhydration. In A flat stomach ASAP. essay, Pocket Books.
- Gibbs, B.B., Kinzel, L.S., Gabriel, K.P., Chang, Y.F., & Kuller, L.H. (2012). Short- and long-term eating habit modification predict weight change in overweight, post-menopausal women: results from the WOMAN Study. Journal of Academic Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(9), 1347-1355.
- Holesh JE, Aslam S, Martin A. Physiology, Carbohydrates. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459280/
- Kerksick, Chad M et al. “International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 14 33. 29 Aug. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
- Schoenfeld, B. J., Aragon, A. A., & Krieger, J. W. (2013). The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 53.
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