With your gym day pass in hand you are determined. You have decided that you want to get fit, lose weight and build muscle. You have committed yourself to the idea that things have to change, and that’s great, but have you thought of everything, or have you missed a crucial factor in your quest to be healthy? Chances are you probably have, and that’s okay provided you do not continue to overlook it. But just what have you missed?
Here we look at things to do before you get to the gym, what is the best food to eat to fuel your exercise and what are the best recipes to help you burn fat once you get there. You’ll still have to put the hard work in, but every little helps right? So let’s see what you should be eating before you swipe your gym day pass.
You can’t drive your car on an empty tank, but many people think that their bodies are different. They seem to believe that they can train and exercise without properly eating beforehand. Now obviously we are not talking about a Michelin Starred 19 course taster menu, but you do need to eat, and the right food will help you achieve more from the efforts you put in.
Your body uses stored carbohydrates it has stored (glycogen) when you start to exercise, and there is a risk that when your levels are too low, then it turns to another available source, and that is often protein. Protein is taken from the muscle mass, meaning that by not fuelling your body properly you are actually risking ruining all of the hard work that you have put in so far. Therefore eating first thing in the morning, or before you exercise, is crucial.
So what type of food is best for weight loss? There are different types of food and it will probably be best determined by what time you are going to use your gym membership. If you are training first thing, you may not feel like a bowl of pasta, but prefer some wholemeal toast. Later on in the day, and that pasta becomes more appealing.
Snacks are important too, so if you’ve not had your main meal of the day before you train, you might want to think about possible snacks. These could include a banana, some 100% fruit juice or some wholemeal toast.
Because the body needs easy energy, and carbohydrates burn more easily than protein. Eating too much protein pre workout, or an overly heavy carb’ meal will drive the body’s blood to the stomach to aid digestion, rather than to the muscles where it is needed for exercise. A good carb intake will spark the body into action once the body begins the exercise and thereafter it can continue burning the body’s fat stores to keep going.
The reality is that you need good carbs though, not just carbs. By “good”, we mean those with a low glycaemic index (GI) level, or slow release carbs, not the refined sugars that you get in biscuits etc. which are often reached for when you need a pick me up of energy. The low GI carbs burn slower, and therefore fuel you for a longer workout, meaning better results.
So having taken all of that into consideration, what are three great pre workout snacks/meals to help you burn fat?
- Simple oats made into a good porridge, with some added raisins. You can use skimmed milk, or even water if you are calorie counting, but the slow release oats will help get you going. Remember to use whole oats though and not the processed ones you find in “quick” porridge. These are full of added sugar and will not be slow release.
- Wholemeal toast with scrambled eggs prove a great source of carbohydrates, and protein, and are quick and easy to make. Just go easy on the butter! Or if eggs are not favoured, then try some wholemeal toast with beans on, a great carb based meal, with a good hit of protein too.
- Wholewheat pasta with some pesto provides a great source of energy and will keep you going for longer once you get to the gym.
A lot of what you eat has to be liked, otherwise you will see it as punishment food and will end up breaking the plan. Remember also that, no matter how many gym day passes you swipe, your diet is crucial. It is easier to eat 500 calories less, than it is to burn 500 more on a treadmill, just think about it!
So you are prepped and ready to train, and now you have the fuel to keep you going. With your level of determination, plus a few little aides, you’ll soon be well on your way to a fitter healthier you. Good luck.