Let us clarify one thing at the start of this article: exercise is good for you. Period. However, there are certain behaviours and attitudes associated with exercising that could actually be sabotaging that gym time or that run. Let us also clarify that if you are training to build muscle then weight gain should be expected as muscle weighs more than fat. What we are talking about in this article is an increase in fat or the inability to reduce fat despite a workout regime.
It’s tough to keep in shape what with our busy lifestyles, being time poor, cheap fast food and sometimes just pure motivation. But what it is that can be creating an even steeper uphill battle to achieving fitness, health and weight-loss? In this article we look at some of the key things to look out for in your quest for fitness nirvana.
This is the term that scientists give to the act of rewarding ourselves after a workout. The problem is it is easy to reach for something which isn’t necessarily satiating but which gives us a hit of something, for example chocolate or junk food. There’s not much point going for that run and burning X calories just to consume 2X calories after. The psychological effect of wanting a reward for exercising can be an easy trap to fall in to.
The trick is to have a post workout snack ready for you once you complete exercising, something which can satisfy your hunger and help replace the electrolytes and nutrients in your body that you depleted during your workout. Try some Maca before your workout and Spirulina after. Maca is an amazing energy booster while Spirulina is 60% protein so is the perfect post workout drink. Both are also full of a range of other phyto-nutrients, vitamins and amino acids.
Healthy Sports Snacks
We are bombarded with energy drinks and energy snacks which we are told to use as pre or post workout supplements. The truth is a lot of these are full of sugar and fat and have the opposite effect to what they are touting. Sure, they might give you a short-term energy boost but at some stage during your workout you are going to get that sugar crash and feel exhausted. Putting the correct fuel in our bodies for our workout regime is critical to being able to train to the optimal level that will allow weight-loss and fitness gains. Aim for unprocessed, organic smoothies that you can make beforehand and keep in your fridge. Use coconut water or just straight water instead of milk and throw in as many green vegetables as you can. Put an antioxidant booster in there as well such as Acai to give it a great taste as well as providing an anti-inflammatory effect on those stiff joints which you might be feeling after workout.
We often hear about endurance athletes ‘carb loading’ before an event. The truth is this: unless you are a competitive athlete and training every day at a high intensity then you do not need additional carbs on top of your normal intake. Many people look to professional athletes and their training regimes for inspiration but unless you have 5 hours a day put aside and you are training for a specific goal their workout regime and their diet are not particularly relevant. This creates a problem if you eat like an athlete but don’t train like one, leading to possible weight gain. Ensuring a balanced daily diet is far more beneficial, focusing on good protein and nutrient dense foods.
The type of exercise you do will of course influence the outcome: weight training for muscle growth vs long distance running for endurance. However, a lot of us don’t work out at a high enough intensity to see the changes we expect. Many of us don’t run or cycle correctly to see an increase in our fitness, endurance or weight-loss; for example riding at 5km/h isn’t the same as riding the same course at 20km/h. If we become comfortable in our exercise type we may not be pushing ourselves as much as we could and kidding ourselves in to thinking we are getting fitter. Combine that with eating as a reward for exercise and you can see how weight-loss is unachievable. Training with a partner is a great idea so you can motivate and push each other as is mixing up your fitness regime and trying new sports and exercises. High Intensity Training (HIT) is a fantastic form of training focusing on shorter period high intensity workouts with shorter rest periods.
To be successful in your fitness and weight-loss goals planning is required. Set out a roster for exercise and make sure you are eating the right foods by keeping your fridge stocked with quality high nutrient and high protein products. Avoid nasty protein powders and look for natural, organic products which give you the same benefit but that are good for your health in other ways as well. Finally, try some new workout ideas, stay motivated, set targets, operate under ‘extreme ownership’ conditions and most of all have fun.