As with most physical exercise regimes and training programs, the actual work you put in is only part of the journey and in a lot of cases the actual exercise or type of exercise is less important than other factors involved in achieving your goals.
Most people, especially at this time of year, begin a training regime to combat the effects of the festive season, but generally look for a resolution to a problem that troubles them most of their year – carrying too much weight and excessive body fat on their frame. Constantly being bombarded by the media, day and night, by images of fit young things bouncing around on TV and social channels makes a lot of people self conscious about the way they look and the way they feel. It is a tried and tested method of marketing to encourage millions of people to sign up to the latest greatest exercise revolution that is ‘guaranteed’ to achieve this year exactly what all the other training systems failed to do every year before.
Now, you may have heard the old saying ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’, which is not exactly true… because you actually can. You can actually offset a daily diet of 3000 kcals of burgers, chips and deep fried nuggets easily, by doing over 3000 kcals of exercise, every single day. Thats around 4 hours on a bike, or 5 hours on a running machine and a whole day spent lifting weights…easy, right? Well no, of course it isn’t. It’s possible, but damn near impossible and more than that it is not maintainable.
So a balance has to be struck between calorie intake and calorie expenditure. An imbalance, in either direction, will be devastating to your training system and any plans you have of reaching your goals. If you consume too much and exercise too little it does not matter what exercise you are doing, you will not see the results you want. Equally if you eat too little, or not the right foods, or exercise too much, then you will soon exhaust yourself and fall by the wayside. It is all about balance and only when you have that basic balance can you start to look at fine tuning your progress with details such as the type of foods you eat, or the type of exercise to do, or choose the platform or program to sign up to.
First of all, the first, most basic thing you can do is simply control your portion size. Most people eat too much, far too much. If you cant be bothered to count calories, or macros (we will come back to this later) at first then just reduce your portion size in every meal for 1 month. You will quickly see how you are not left feeling hungry as your body adapts to the smaller volume of food.
Second, up your protein. By training in a gym, riding a CicloZone session or going for a jog, you are consuming calories by engaging muscle mass on your body at a higher intensity than normal. To consume the carbohydrates or fat you consume in your diet or that you have stored on your body, the muscle needs amino acids found in the form of proteins to recover after your training session is finished. The muscle, if it receives enough good quality protein, will recover slightly stronger than it was previously, meaning the next time you exercise the same muscle it will perform better and stronger and consume even more calories. This cycle continues on every training session, resulting in muscle toning, definition and fat loss… but only if you have the protein in your diet. Any meats, fish or nuts, are just a few examples of high quality protein, even add a protein shake into your diet to ensure you have enough.
Fundamentally proteins hold the key to your success, so don’t skimp on the shrimp.
Third, make sure you snack… snacking is good!!!! It is much better for you to eat 6 small meals throughout the day than 3 big ones, so reduce your main meal portion sizes and add in set times to snack. A snack is a snack though- a piece of fruit, some slices of chicken, a handful of nuts and dried fruit, even a protein shake will fill your stomach enough to get you through to lunch or dinner, but no more than that. Eat on the go, something simple, don’t complicate it.
Fourth, ’eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and your evening meal like a pauper’. I love this saying because it is so true. Why bang 1000kcals of energy rich evening meal into your body two hours before you go to bed and sleep. Yes, you need to eat, and certainly take in some protein but don’t have the chips, don’t have the desert, and certainly try not to have the alcohol… well not every day anyway!!! White carbs, sugars or fats you ingest before you go to bed that you do not burn off will not be used as energy while you are sleeping, meaning your body’s endocrine system, which decides whether calories are to be used or stored, will decide to save those beautiful calories for later in your larder of energy, or more commonly know as your belly fat. Our working life timetable is a modern day phenomenon, driven by economic and social pressures to exist in our modern lives. Our neanderthal fore-bearers didn’t come home from work at 6pm, sit down in front of the TV and eat their biggest meal of the day, the stone age take away delivery service wasn’t really up to much.
If you begin with the above, or at least start steering the ship in this direction, then you will begin to understand the importance of nutrition in your fitness journey. From here you can start to take advantage of the big fitness gains you will achieve from combining good exercise with good diet. Higher energy levels, better sleep, lower anxiety and better mental health are all side effects enjoyed by people who just get it right.
Join me soon in my next nutritional blog as we go to the next level and learn about macro nutrients and the balance between carbs, fats and protein in your diet to supercharge your performance and results… and also learn about cheat days… I mean we all need some fun every now and again, don’t we?