Bad diet is like a bad friend in the gym! There’s nothing worse than diligently committing to your workout routine only to see . . . zero results. Maybe you’re showing up to the gym day-in and day-out or pushing your body to its max every single time, only to wonder why you’re not feeling stronger or constantly suffering from a tweaked muscle. So, what gives? Well, it probably comes down to bad eating habits.
You already know some of the good habits related to a successful fitness plan: exercising consistently, eating healthy foods, drinking water, and so on. Conversely, bad habits waste your time and energy, and lead to poor training and minimal recovery.
You could get away with it when younger
Sure, you could eat whatever you wanted in high school and stay thin as a rail. But unfortunately, you’re not 17 anymore, and even if you work out around the clock, you can’t transform your body if you constantly give in to cravings, high-fat foods and sweet treats. The truth is, flat abs are made in the kitchen, and no amount of cardio and crunches can sculpt a sleek physique if you maintain an unhealthy diet.
Consume excess calories and you have to counterbalance them, and it’s hard to get enough exercise in to undo the calories you’ll get in a double cheeseburger with French fries and a milk shake.
Read on for reasons why aligning your nutrition plan with your exercise routine will help you get the body you want.
You’re not a professional athlete
If you justify frequent fried chicken or pasta dinners with the cardio workout on your schedule the following morning, you might want to recalculate how many calories you’re actually burning in comparison to the ones you’re taking in. The majority of people are not serious athletes, meaning they don’t require the same type and amount of fuel as the professionals. Eating a calorically dense, high-carbohydrate meal or snack makes sense for a competitive cyclist about to endure a 100-mile road race, but it doesn’t make sense for someone who is about to take a two-mile jog around the block.
Instead, opt for a healthier form of chicken such as grilled or poached and save the spaghetti for a post-race meal. Yes, it’s OK to have a cheat meal here and there, but try not to make it a weekly or even bi-weekly thing. And don’t bother justifying it with an intense sweat session you may have had earlier — it’s called a cheat meal for a reason.
You won’t be able to hit your peak
To effectively change your physique and stay toned requires intense exercise. You won’t have the physical endurance to push through tough workouts if your diet isn’t up to snuff. Yes, that unfortunately means that while candy and soda may give you a sugar high that you mistake as energy, they won’t fuel you to PR on the bench or around the track. Also, if you’re consuming high-fat foods in the evening, they could be disrupting your sleep– which will leave you too tired to go all out at the gym.
You’ll need a combination of carbohydrates and protein to recover following a workout, as well as adequate carbs beforehand, too. They’re the preferred energy for the exercisers’ muscles and mind
Watch out for taking in too much fat; that often translates to an abundance of calories as well, which quickly packs on as extra pounds. Another diet pitfall to avoid when training is extremely high amounts of carbs or fiber. These could cause annoying digestive issues and prevent you from performing well. In general, aim to get about 30 percent of your diet from protein, 40 percent from carbs and 30 percent from fat.
You won’t have the energy
Keep in mind that a diet you might think is healthy — one that’s super-low in carbs or calories — is just as harmful to your workout plan as one that’s high in fat. A very restrictive eating plan, paired with hardcore exercise, could leave you leaning on muscle mass for energy. Not getting enough fat (fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and D, and essential fatty acids, like omega-3s, in particular), leaves you unable to produce energy and grow muscle because it lowers your levels of hormones like insulin and testosterone — which are important for building lean-body mass.
Additionally, maintaining a very restrictive diet for a prolonged period can lead to a reduction in muscle tissue and can decrease the ability of your skeletal muscles (the ones needed for lifting, walking and other forms of exercise) to perform well.
You won’t want to exercise
Unhealthy food choices — whether you’re eating too much fat, too many calories or not enough of either–may make you feel slow and less driven to exercise. Diet and exercise are a feedback loop. When you eat well, you are motivated to move, and when you move, you are more motivated to eat better. Consider, for instance, a low-carb, high-fat diet; it might not only weaken training adaptations and hinder performance but can also lead to you being less likely to want to get to the gym.
You won’t be able to tone your body
Having a hard time sculpting better butt or washboard abs? When you consume excess calories and can’t burn them all off solely from your workouts, they head right to these trouble zones. It’s dependent on your specific body type, but generally, women tend to gain weight in the hips and thighs, while men pack it on around their midsection. So even if you’ve gained muscle in these areas, it will be covered by a layer of fat. And abs exercises alone aren’t enough to decrease your body-fat percentage or abdominal fat, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Keeping your diet in check will help because to become truly toned, you’ll need to build muscle and burn more calories than you’re consuming at the same time. It’s easier to do so if you don’t treat yourself to fried food or ice cream in the first place.
You could get sick
Low-carb and low-fat diets can be mentally draining and have a negative impact on heart health, plus, a chronic low-carb diet may lead to micronutrient deficiencies and increased inflammation throughout the body, which both make you more susceptible to injury. Studies have found that not taking in an adequate amount of healthy fats may raise your chances for overuse injuries (such as stress fractures and tendonitis) and it doesn’t allow your body to protect itself in order to stay healthy. Furthermore, if you pair a low-fat diet with intense exercise, that can lower your immunity even further.
When you’re not eating whole foods, your workouts will not be as beneficial. If you’re eating simple carbs, processed foods, (i.e., sugar, sugar, sugar), then you’ll be working out harder, yet not seeing much improvement in the way you look and feel.
Eating whole foods such as vegetables, protein, fruits, and grains, to see improvements in muscle tone, growth, and strength. Eating healthy can help you avoid unnecessary weight gain, feelings of sluggishness, and even mood swings. When you feel your best, you can give your utmost effort to workouts.
Additionally, eating too few calories should be avoided. When your body is low on fuel, it conserves energy by taking your metabolism down a notch. Be mindful of the timing of your food choices too. Eating a big meal too close to your workout may cause you to experience cramps or nausea. A well-balanced diet with whole foods, minimal refined products, and a good mix of carbs, protein, and fat is key.