A sports diet is not intended for quick weight loss, but to ensure that the body receives all the necessary substances and you are always in good shape. In this case, no hunger strikes – only sports and high-quality food.
A true sports diet is needed only by professional athletes. But its basic principles will be useful to everyone who regularly trains and wants to see the result.
1. Diversify the diet
With regular exercise, a balanced and varied diet is important. Make sure that the menu has six main groups of natural products:
- vegetables (including legumes);
- nuts, seeds and natural oils;
- meat without factory processing, fish and seafood;
- whole grains;
- natural dairy products .
Switching to proper nutrition is better gradually. So you will avoid stress due to the rejection of not the most wholesome, but familiar food.
2. Do not go on a hunger strike
Sports nutrition does not provide for severe starvation. The body should not suffer from a lack of nutrients before, during and after training. Calculate the amount of calories you need per day and adhere to the rule 25-50-25. That is, 25% of calories consumed per day should be for breakfast and dinner, and 50% of calories for lunch.
The most accurate calorie calculation is the Mifflin-Geor formula.
For men: 5 + (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age);
for women: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age) – 161.
If you want to lose weight or gain muscle mass, at first consider not only calories, but also the amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. So you get an approximate idea of how much you need to eat to maintain weight, gain it or lose it.
In addition, you will learn how to choose the right products. For example, you’ll understand that you can eat a large bowl of vegetables, get enough and at the same time consume the same amount of calories as from a small portion of french fries.
Today, monitoring your diet and counting calories is much easier than ever. There are many mobile apps to help with this. You don’t even have to google the nutritional value of the product – just enter its name, and the program gives out the calorie content and the amount of BJU (proteins, fats and carbohydrates).
3. Calculate feeding time
Make an approximate nutritional schedule based on your daily routine. Complete the standard breakfast – lunch – dinner trio with a second breakfast and / or afternoon snack, depending on which half of the day you have a workout. But only if you really want to eat at this time, you do not need to force yourself.
Food timing is an ambiguous thing. It happens that people who are used to having breakfast stop eating in the morning and lose weight. There are also known cases of weight loss during interval starvation – this is one or two meals a day. You can get rid of extra pounds and with fractional nutrition (6 – 8 times a day) or on diets without carbohydrates and fats. The exact answer that suits you, does not exist. You need to try, experiment and find your mode.
However, intensive training on an empty stomach is unlikely to benefit the body. Fainting or losing strength has not made anyone healthier or more beautiful. To feel good, try eating a high protein meal about 2 to 3 hours before going to the gym. Or have a light meal 30 to 40 minutes before class.
And in the first 20 minutes after training in the body, the so-called post-training (anabolic) window is opened for the consumption of proteins and carbohydrates (but not fats). Everything that will be eaten during this period will go to muscle recovery and muscle gain, but not to body fat.
4. Do not exclude fats from the diet
According to WHO recommendations , 30% of the total energy consumed per day should be fats. Of these, no more than 10% – for saturated and no more than 2% – for trans fats. The remaining 18% should be unsaturated fats. They are found in fish, avocados and nuts, as well as in sunflower, soy, rapeseed and olive oil.
If your daily norm is 2,500 kcal, 750 should be consumed from fats. This is about 83 grams of fat, while not more than 27 grams – saturated, which are contained in animal products. For example, in butter, fat or fatty meat.
For those who want to lose weight, the expert advises reducing the amount of fat or carbohydrates (depending on the chosen diet). There is no consensus on which diet helps better: both low-fat and low-carb options give good results.
However, you should not completely exclude fats from the diet. Especially if athletic performance and muscle gain are important to you. Fats are necessary for the production of testosterone – the male sex hormone that promotes muscle growth, a decrease in body fat, an increase in strength and endurance.
5. Before and after exercise, eat protein and carbohydrate foods
It’s best to include foods rich in complex carbohydrates in your diet before your workout. For example, legumes, seedlings, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, whole grain cereals, bread, brown rice. And also foods high in protein – low-fat red and white meat, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts, eggs, cheese, milk and cottage cheese. It is best to eat a couple of hours before going to the gym so that the food has time to digest.
After classes, it is also allowed to eat carbohydrate foods that do not contain fat: bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables. In addition, you can supplement your meal with proteins.
An adult needs about 1.6–1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day, for power athletes and those who want to gain muscle mass, 2–2.2 grams per kilogram.
6. Do not forget to drink during training
Our muscles are 75% water. During training, the fluid goes through breathing, sweat and tears (a joke). The loss of even 2% of moisture in the body reduces the effectiveness of the session by a quarter. Dehydration leads to rapid fatigue and loss of coordination. Therefore, do not ignore the feeling of thirst.
To feel good and not harm the body, drink half a liter of water a couple of hours before training. Then drink a glass every 15 minutes throughout the session. And after training, weigh yourself, see how many grams have been lost, and drink the same amount of water. For example, they dumped 500 grams – they drank half a liter of water. It is inconvenient to carry a bottle with you on jogging, so drink before and after your workout.
7. Remember the benefits of breakfast
First, the anticipation of a delicious breakfast will help you wake up and get out of bed more easily. Secondly, a morning meal will give energy and strength to carry out future tasks. Of course, the volume of breakfast is individual for everyone and forcing yourself to eat is not worth it.
Include oatmeal and buckwheat porridge, omelette, whole grain bread, vegetable salads, as well as fruits and berries in the morning diet. Natural dairy products and cottage cheese are perfect.
8. Plan your menu for the week.
Allocate half an hour, think over dishes, write a list of necessary products and go shopping. With this approach, you do not have to decide what to cook in the morning. Also, you will not need to eat the same food every day due to the fact that you could not think of anything but porridge when you were awake. Another plus – the shopping list will allow you to plan expenses, which will positively affect the budget.
9. Cook your own meals
Surely you noticed that people who are keen on sports take lunch boxes with home food for work. If you don’t have such a habit, consider developing it. So you will be sure of the freshness of the products, the quality of preparation and the calorie content of the dish.
10. Allow yourself light snacks
Snacks, like meals for a full meal, must comply with the principles of proper nutrition. For this purpose, apples, bananas, vegetable juice, kefir, yogurt or cottage cheese are suitable.
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