Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle or improve performance, the amount of time you spend working in the gym won’t matter much if you’re not supporting your efforts with adequate nutrition.
What you do while you’re not at the gym (which is likely a large portion of your time) plays a significant role in achieving results, and this is especially true when it comes to what you eat at each meal.
“Nutrition and your mental state are constantly overlooked,” said Saul Juan Antonio Cuautle, a certified personal trainer and the CEO and founder of MOS Training Systems.” Little tweaks in these two areas can improve your body composition, your health and your performance.”
Below Cuautle suggests five easy ways to step up your nutrition game for improved performance and results, no matter what you’re working towards.
1. Eat carbs strategically.
“If fat loss is your goal, eat veggies and fruits with any meal, but ‘other carbs,’ like grains, only after exercise,” Cuautle said. “This sounds easy, but it’s surprisingly hard to consistently implement.” He says this method is the single greatest way to accelerate fat loss.” Notice I didn’t say anything about ‘low carbs,’” he pointed out. “Instead focus on being strategic with the types of carbs you eat and when.”
2. Veggies are your best friend.
“Most people in the U.S. simply do not eat enough vegetables,” Cuautle explained. “We tend to view vegetables only as a dinner or lunch thing. Why?” He added that just because TV and magazine ads tend to omit vegetables as part of breakfast, doesn’t mean you should too. Instead, they should be incorporated with every meal to help ensure your body is getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. “One small trick is to identify your favorite vegetables—we all tend to have at least one—such as tomatoes or cucumbers, and add one handful at every meal,” Cuautle added.
3. Power Shakes to the Rescue
“Most of us are constantly on the go in today’s busy world,” Cuautle said. “This tends to lead to skipped meals or relying on Starbucks for food.” Instead of relying on fast food or entirely skipping out on a meal, he suggests carrying a “power shake” (preferably one that’s blended with spinach or another leafy green and protein powder) for easy access to a nutritious meal while you’re on the go.
Need some healthy shake and smoothie ideas? Check out these post-workout smoothie recipes.
4. Juices are not your friend.
“Most juices on the market are packed with sugar,” Cuautle said. “Too much sugar.” His advice: when in doubt, just say no to juices and opt for actual fruit instead. “A couple of pieces of fruit will keep you more satisfied and won’t bombard your body with needless added sugar.” If you’re in need of hydration, Cuautle suggests green tea or water as smart alternatives. “This one tip alone can save you hundreds of empty calories,” he added.
5. The dynamic duo of supplements.
Cuautle said if you exercise very frequently or are currently following a plan that restricts you from certain foods it may be a good idea to take multivitamin and fish oil supplements. “Fish oil in particular has shown to help minimize inflammation and improve recovery from exercise,” he said. “I’ve noticed the most common mistake is people forget to take them, so pick a meal to always take your supplements with and soon enough, it will be a habit you no longer have to think about.”