lifestyle

How to adjust your diet before going back to the gym – and why it’s important


Don’t forget, food is an important part of any fitness regime. (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Now that gyms are open again, we will probably find that our training routines are about to change.

You might be going back to using heavier weights, completing higher intensity workouts, or simply working out more regularly than during lockdown. As a result – the needs of our bodies are going to be different.

We have been out of routine for a really long time, and adjusting to doing regular gym workouts again needs some thought. You might find that you have lost some strength, or that you need more sleep, or that you get tired more easily.

This is why it is incredibly important to think about your diet. How you fuel your body can have a direct impact on how fit, strong and energised you feel – so you might need to adjust what and when you’re eating as you head back to the gym.

Kerri Major is a registered dietitian, qualified personal trainer and author of The Dietitian Kitchen: Nutrition for a Healthy, Strong, & Happy You. She says now is the perfect time to take a closer look at your nutrition, and that eating well can help you achieve your fitness goals.

‘Whether you’ve not done much in the way of exercise throughout lockdown, or you’re planning to up your game by going back to the gym, making sure you are fueled appropriately is super important,’ Kerri tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Nailing your nutritional intake around your training can be a great way to not only optimise your body’s adaptation to your training to help you become fitter and stronger, but it can also support your body’s recovery from exercise and help you to achieve your body composition goals.

‘And guess what? Sports supplements, more often than not, are not required and can also be a waste of money. Focusing more on general food and fluid intake around training should be a priority with sports supplements being considered the icing on the cake.’

Here are Kerri’s top tips to consider if you’re returning to the gym over the coming weeks:

Fuel up

‘With increasing activity levels, your nutritional intake should follow suit, making sure you are eating enough to support the energy demands of your chosen exercise,’ says Kerri.

‘Many people fail to do this which can have negative consequences to both health and performance.

‘If weight-loss is your goal, an overall calorie deficit is required, but slow and steady wins the race with excessive calorie deficits being both restrictive and not supportive of good health or sporting performance.’

Don’t only focus on protein

Kerri says that all too often, protein is the main nutrient that is focused on when it comes to an active lifestyle. But she says there are plenty of other important elements in your diet.

‘Optimising your protein intake is really important to support muscle growth and repair from exercise but it’s not the only nutrient to focus on,’ she says.

‘Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred source of fuel and although the media might say differently, quality carbohydrates are good for us and an essential nutrient for fueling training and supporting our body’s adaptation to exercise.

‘That being said, drinking enough fluid and getting in plenty of fruit and veg to support our immune system should also be prioritised.’

What to eat post-workout

‘Too many people focus on making sure their post-workout meal or snack supports recovery, but they can often neglect the meals consumed over the rest of the day,’ says Kerri.

Kerri says the post workout-period isn’t just the first two hours after exercise.

‘Recovery and our body’s adaptation to our training session can continue for the next 12-24 hours,’ she explains. ‘So, it’s also important to focus on what you eat throughout the rest of the day too.

‘Exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand, so if you’re hitting the gym over the coming weeks, be sure to focus on eating well too in order to support your training and enjoy the process of getting fitter and stronger.’

Kerri adds that you should always make sure you incorporate healthy and nutritious meals into your day.

‘Think of them as being as important as your exercise plans,’ she says. ‘The way to get that working for you is to ensure your food is delicious.’

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.

Get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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