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A big part of performing well with high intensity workout routines is nutrition. Many people are warriors when it comes to working out, but still eat anything they can get their hands on. This may work when you’re younger, but as you get older, these bad nutritional habits can come back to bite you.
The following are some foods that you should absolutely incorporate in your diet:
Green Vegetables – Green leafy vegetables are full of antioxidants. Americans actually spend billion of dollars each year to get antioxidants in pill form. However, you could probably do better with just eating more vegetables.
Antioxidants are vital to the human body, as they’ve been linked to preventing cancer, heart disease, and boosting the immune system. If you get sick a lot, then start eating more vegetables. This is because antioxidants are like a layer of protection for the cells and tissues.
Protein Powder – Protein is extremely important to help you build muscle mass and recovery from your intense workouts. But frankly speaking, not all of us get enough protein just from food. Especially if you’re an athlete and are working out at an extremely high intensity level.
Protein powder simply helps you get some extra protein. I like to mix mine with milk. Take it right after your workouts, and you’re good to go. Based on your size, you may need to take more than one protein shakes per day.
Olive Oil – Olive oil is a type of good fat. And good fat burns fat! But olive oil in particular is extremely beneficial for your body. Studies have shown that olive oil helps control LDL (bad) cholesterol by raising HDL (good) cholesterol.
Natural Oatmeal – One of the best things you can do is replace your regular cereal with natural oatmeal. Oatmeal has tons of great vitamins and nutrients you need to start your day off right. It also provides your body with lots of fiber, which is an essential nutrient in helping your body carry out daily metabolic functions
The Bridge Between Nutrition and Training (or, What do eat right after working out)
As mentioned earlier, the best thing to consume immediately after a tough training session is protein. Mix yourself a nice protein shake, chug it down, and start preparing your meal. You should wait at least a half hour after your workout to eat.
Depending on your workout, you may need to consume different things. For example, after an intense bodyweight workout, you probably want to consume more protein then carbs, especially if your goal is to minimize fat gain.
But honestly speaking, the main thing is to eat healthy. Don’t go out and eat a slice of pizza. Your post workout meal should be your most nutritious meal of the day. Keep the junk off the plate, and you should be fine.
Here are some ideas for great post workout meals:
Glass of milk with protein powder
Turkey or Chicken sandwich on wheat bread
Natural Peanut butter and Low sugar jelly on wheat bread
Tuna fish on wheat bread
Protein bar with natural peanut butter on top and milk
Foods to Avoid
Unfortunately, there are probably more foods that we should be avoiding then consuming. That’s just the way out society is nowadays. People are choosing tastier options rather than healthier options, although with the right cooking techniques, you can make almost any food taste great.
Your biggest step to a more healthier diet should be to reduce your consumption of sugar. Start by cutting down the amount of sugary beverages that you drink. Bottled juices, soda, and sugary lattes can be killer diet destroying foods.
Next step would be to eliminate fried foods. Next time you go into a restaurant, avoid the sides of french fries, onion rings and curly fries. Try to understand how food is made. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter at a restaurant how the food is prepared.
This third step is probably the most difficult. Eliminate or reduce your consumption of white flour. You can easily just switch to whole wheat bread and pasta, and still enjoy the same great (or even better) taste. I’m a huge pasta fanatic, and switching to whole wheat options has made a huge positive difference.
While you’re trying to cut down on sugar, you should start avoiding desserts. Just don’t buy them anymore from the grocery store. The less temptations you have at home, the better. I don’t care if you have little children. Get them started on a healthy diet early on.
Alcohol, especially beer, can be a physique killer. Once in a while, it’s not a bad thing. But at the end of the day, it’s just more empty calories being ingested into your body. On top of that, alcohol is a poison. So you should be controlling your consumption anyways.
Meal Frequency and Timing
Here’s something that a lot of people talk about: 3 meals a day or 6 meals a day? There are even people out there that only eat once a day and are still incredibly strong, ripped, and athletic. The truth is that it depends on you.
If you can get all your nutrients and calories with just one meal a day, then good luck to you. But most people will need to eat 3 complete meals a day, with a few snacks along the way. The majority of people probably eat 6 meals a day without even realizing it.
The best advice I can give you is to find your natural eating rhythm and stick to it. Fasting once in a while doesn’t hurt. Sometimes when I feel to sluggish or out of shape, I’ll fast for a few hours, and I’ll feel much better. Fasting also helps you improve your immune system and releases human growth hormone.
These were just a few basic tips to help you get started on a better nutrition plan. If you want to learn how to optimize your nutrition plan for a healthier lifestyle, then check out the following guides: