Anyone that embarks on workout program or decides to hit the gym normally does it for a number of reasons: To look good, to increase their fitness, to lose weight or to gain strength. These are the most common reasons for joining a gym, but only a small percentage of those who sign up to a gym and begin a workout program will see it all the way through. Why such a high drop off rate? Could it be that they aren’t reaching the goals that they have set out for themselves? Were the goals too unrealistic? Was the training too easy? Did you not train hard enough? All these are possible reasons why you may not be attaining your fitness goals, but one of the most common reasons is that people fail to work as hard in the kitchen as they do in the gym. Many people neglect the kitchen but hit it hard in the gym, yet wonder why they are not losing weight, or not building muscle. In this article, we aim to highlight the importance of a balanced diet and ensuring you get all your micro and macro-nutrients on your quest to be a healthier you.
You’ve been doing well, you’ve been hitting the gym on a regular basis, pushing it to the max each time, lifting weights and throwing in a bit of cardio. Your first week is done and you eagerly jump on the scales hoping to see at least a few pounds less due to your efforts at the gym. Nothing. Okay, you think it’s only the first week, maybe it will take some time. But gradually as the weeks go on, you aren’t making the gains in fitness, weight loss, or general health that you wanted to, and can’t understand why! You get up, have breakfast, go to work, go to the gym and stop off for dinner on the way home at your favourite pizza restaurant because you deserve a treat right? Nothing wrong with this routine is there? Oh, wait? Could it be the diet that is messing things up? Your work at the gym is awesome and you put 100% effort in every time, but your work in the kitchen is a little non-existent! You’re a machine in the gym, but lazy with your diet, and this is why you are not making the gains you hope to be making.
Many argue that a fit body is 80% made in the kitchen and 20% made in the gym. I think this sounds pretty accurate. You could be the strongest and fittest person ever, but if your diet is rubbish you can’t have the energy to perform your workouts, and you won’t look good as you’ll be putting on fat. The two go hand in hand. You can’t have a kickass workout programme and then head home and put it all to waste by eating a load of rubbish. You need to ensure you are getting the right amount of calories needed for your body, and for the amount of exercise you are doing. Are you calculating your macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients? Do you know how many calories you should be taking in per day? Do you consume lots of lean meat, fruit and veg? All these are questions you should be asking yourself if you want to get the most from your workout program and get in the best shape of your life.
Your workout should be balanced. There is no point in doing all upper body work only to have tiny skinny legs that look ridiculous on a muscled and well defined upper body! Big compound movements are the best way to strip fat and build muscle so try incorporating moves such as squats, bench press, deadlifts and pull ups to see a difference fast. Free weights are usually better than weight machines as free weights employ stabilizer muscles as well as you do the move, adding an extra dimension to your workout. Invest in a squat rack and bench and get lifting!
You should also aim to do around 3 sessions of cardio a week. This keeps the heart and lungs working at their best as well as stripping away fat! We suggest high intensity interval training for a quick but powerful workout designed to push you to your max! Do a good HIIT workout and you’ll be burning fat hours later still while you have your feet up relaxing! Sound good?
Here’s where things get interesting! Your diet doesn’t have to be super complex or super tricky to maintain, as quite simply, if it’s too hard to manage, you’ll slip back into your old ways! Try and aim for a balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats, especially if you’re looking to increase muscle mass and strip away fat. A quick Google search will tell you how many calories you need to be taking in, so start keeping tracking with a food diary. It may also be worth investing in some supplements to give you an extra boost at the gym such as creatine to increase muscle mass, or just a simple whey protein to help recovery and build muscle. Keep it simple, take it slow and focus on eating a healthy diet rather than being too strict with yourself.
To sum up
It can be easy to hit the gym but neglect our diet, yet you won’t see the results needed unless you pay attention to both. It can be argued that diet is actually more important than your time at the gym and so invest in some time in the kitchen and see the gains you have been aiming to make for so long!