When you start a new weight loss plan, you might be inclined to jump into a rigorous exercise regimen and cut way back on your caloric intake at the same time. But when you complete an intense workout, you burn up a lot of calories. So, while calorie reduction will help you slim down, you need to make sure you’re not “in the red” calorie-wise.
Not eating enough calories is counter-productive to weight loss for two reasons:
ONE: You won’t have the energy to give your fitness routine 100%.
TWO: You will tell your body to hoard fat. The goal is to keep your metabolism high, not switch to fat-conserving mode.
Gearing Up for a Workout
As long as you don’t exceed your caloric need, calories are your friends! They are one of your body’s most important sources of energy. You only need to cut out a few hundred calories a day (300-500) as part of your effort to lose excess fat. That means if your caloric need is 2200, eat no less than 1700.
If you have an average metabolism, your body will use up all the energy from a normal-sized meal in about three hours. This is one reason we recommend that our clients eat 5-6 small, balanced meals a day. That’s a meal about every three hours.
If you haven’t eaten in a couple of hours, you’ll want to replenish your fuel supply before you exercise. Of course, you don’t want to feel full or sleepy, so it’s a good idea to have that food 30 minutes to an hour before, if possible. That will also allow time for the nutrients to be delivered to your muscle.
Go for a light, energy-supplying snack rather than a full meal pre-workout. A protein or meal replacement shake is a great choice. Generally, a good protein shake contains a 1:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. This is perfect for after your workout, but if you’re going to have the shake before, you want a 4:1 carb-to-protein balance, so add grains or fruit to get the rest of your carbs.
Should I Eat Carbs for Energy?
Lowering your carb intake can be a boon if you’re trying to lose weight. It can force your body to turn to fat for fuel and start burning it up. It isn’t wise to cut carbs completely, however: if your body runs out of energy, it may go after muscle as its next source, and you don’t want that!
Carbs are an important source of exercise energy. Simple carbs give you an instant energy boost, while complex carbs—along with protein—will deliver slower-released energy for sustained activity. With the right ratio of simple carbs, complex carbs and protein, you’ll have all the energy you need to get through your workout.
Here’s a good approach to carbs: On the days that you do high-intensity workouts, include more carbohydrates in your diet. On your steady state cardio days, have a low carb intake. And on your days off—those all-important recovery days—lower carb levels as low as possible.
The right supplements can also energize your exercise routine. ResveraShape has caffeine, green tea and antioxidants, all of which can make your workout more effective (not to mention boost your metabolism).
Eat within an hour after you’ve finished exercising. Make sure you have a blend of protein, carbohydrates and fat in that post-workout meal.
Sometimes rigorous exercise can make you feel ravenous, so when you eat, take it slow. While you will likely need to increase your caloric intake somewhat, you don’t need to go overboard: allow your body to feel full before you have seconds.
Don’t forget to replenish fluids by drinking lots of water after your workout. Have a glass before you move on to the food; this may also fill you up a bit and prevent overeating.
If you’ve been doing strength training you’ll also want to consume protein within an hour of your workout. A quality protein source, such as IdealShape’s Meal Replacement Shakes with 12g of protein, will help you refuel and facilitate muscle recovery.
And when you implement these changes in your diet, be sure to track your exercise results so you know they’re working!