When you’re training to lose weight or build muscle mass, every piece of food you consume counts. It goes way beyond the number of calories eaten. If you want to maximize your gains, you have to make sure you’re getting the right amount of micronutrients at the right time.
It’s also a matter of knowing what not to eat. All it takes is one wrong meal to set yourself back weeks instead of making progress.
Be Sensible About Supplements
Supplements are a huge $30 billion industry in the U.S. Some supplements are based on real science and aimed at making sure you get the right nutrients. Others do nothing but waste your hard earned cash.
Problems caused by unproven ingredients can even make you sick. In some cases, it could be so bad a food poisoning lawyer has to get involved. Even high-profile experts can be fooled. A few years ago, weight loss guru Jillian Michaels was wrapped up in a lawsuit after endorsing a weight loss supplement that allegedly contained dangerous ingredients. Health experts agreed it did contain ingredients that could harm the gastrointestinal system.
And that wasn’t an isolated incident. Last year, the New York State Attorney General’s office found that major national retailers were selling supplements that had unlisted ingredients. For example, supplements at GNC had unlisted powdered legumes, which can cause dangerous allergic reactions.
Protein supplements are one of the few products you can trust to do what’s expected. But supplements are not a replacement for food – they are meant to supplement your whole food diet.
Food Mistakes That Cause Big Training and Muscle Building Declines
Lots of people unknowingly make mistakes with food as well. When we forget that food is fuel for our body it can cause us to make choices that aren’t the best for our bodies or building muscle mass. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that people make with food:
Not Eating Anything After a Workout – Muscle repair is a part of the growth process. You don’t want to eat a ton of food or indulge in junk, but you do need to intake key nutrients after a hard workout. Within 30 minutes you should eat a small, protein-packed snack if you aren’t going to eat a meal for a few hours. Protein is the building block of muscles, helping the tissue to recover. But you also want to have small portions of healthy fat, whole grain and colorful, antioxidant-rich produce as well.
Drastically cutting calories – Maybe you’re trying to make weight for a certain body building division. Or perhaps you’re simply trying to get rid of excess weight that you’re tired of lugging around. No matter what the reason, many people think they need to drastically cut calories to lose weight. You might drop pounds, but you’ll also dramatically deplete your energy. Without enough fuel (i.e. calories) there’s no way you can train at maximum capacity.
Consuming Raw Foods – Foods that haven’t been fully cooked, especially meats, are one of the quickest ways to get food poisoning. There are over 250 documented foodborne diseases that get 1 in 6 people sick every year. Most of the time it only causes mild discomfort for a day or so, but in some cases, it can put you out of service for weeks.
Forgoing Fat – Fad diets from decades ago told people that they needed to avoid fat at all costs. The truth of the matter is, fat is a necessity that our body needs. Healthy fats help you feel full for longer, keep hunger hormones in check and increases antioxidant absorption. There are now studies that find healthy fats from nuts and oils can actually up your metabolic rate so you burn more calories.
Remember, food is fuel; when the tank is empty you need to fill it with premium nutrients.