Whether your fitness goal is weight loss, athletic performance, more energy, better health, or just simply toning up, it is vital that you pay attention to your nutrition and food intake to reach this goal. In my experience as a personal trainer, working with thousands of clients over a period of 16 years, I observed that the role that food intake plays in a person reaching his or her fitness goal is paramount. In fact, it makes up for more than 75% of the influence of whether or not a person is successful. The challenge for me was that people who would be working very hard in the gym expected to see results and couldn’t understand why they weren’t getting them even after all that work. I would always say to my clients and anyone in the gym that would listen, “You can work out ‘till the cows come home, but if you’re not eating well, your body won’t change, at least not cosmetically.” Frequently, that statement would be met with some confusion and the response that they had been eating well, and things just weren’t working anyway. Well, upon further review of the actual diet and food intake the clients had, it usually wasn’t difficult to see what could be improved with them so they could start seeing the results (typically weight loss) that they desired, with a little help from a registered dietician
What I found was that people who want to lose weight believe that the only way that is going to happen is if they eat less food, which in many cases is actually counter to what the person needs. They have been eating a certain way for awhile and they are dissatisfied with their appearance, so they take the food they have been eating and they reduce the calories while they come to the gym and work with a personal trainer. They get sore and maybe see some change in the beginning of their program, but it isn’t long before they are at a plateau and frustrated, because this plateau certainly isn’t the result of a lack of effort.
Here is where a basic knowledge of the way that food intake actually influences weight loss is a tremendous help, taking some of the mystery out of the equation and allowing a person to make some intelligent choices that will help them reach their fitness goals. There are three big concepts that I find have really helped people get a grasp of the basics.
The first is to EAT ENOUGH! As I said before, the tendency is for people to really restrict their food intake in an effort to lose weight. If a person comes into the beginning of a fitness program having truly been an overeater, then a reduction in calories is appropriate. However, the culprit with most people who are overweight or overfat is not that they eat too much, it’s that their metabolism is shot from a lack of exercise and bad eating habits. So, ironically, one of the things that has to happen with a person who wants to lose weight is that they frequently have to increase their overall intake of food somewhat to keep up with the demands of the new exercise and keep from starving, allowing the metabolism to rise naturally. Correct portion size is the key!
The second is to EAT OFTEN. Rule #1 doesn’t do any good if all the calories you might be taking in come at dinner after starving yourself all day. This is the biggest single reason people have trouble with their physiques, this lack of regular eating. Regular eating throughout the day never lets the body get too hungry or too full, and the body responds by raising the metabolism and burning more fat. The ideal number of meals and snacks combined throughout the day is from 4-6, spaced evenly starting with breakfast as soon as you get up in the morning.
The last rule is to EAT BALANCED! I once had a client who said that she was eating 5 times a day like I had suggested, yet upon further examination I found that she was eating a handful of Cheerios for three of those meals. The result was that she wasn’t eating enough food overall to fuel her body, and she was missing some key necessities in her diet, like adequate amounts of protein that kept her from reaching her fitness goals. As LiveLeanToday.com’s registered dieticians would say, eating balanced means getting adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruits and vegetables spaced evenly throughout the day with each meal, if possible. This controls appetite and keeps the body feeling well fueled throughout the day, contributing to fat loss.
You can get specific advice from a personal trainer or registered dietician here at LiveLeanToday.com by posting a message for them on our message board, or chat 1 on 1 with your LiveLean membership. Also visit our recipes section for meals that already meet the Three Rules guidelines. Eat well and Live Lean!