By Heather McLean, instructor, Southern Crane Kungfu
People forget that eating the right food is crucial for a successful training regime, and to aid you in achieving your physical goals. You are literally what you eat, so if your thing is sausage rolls, you’re going to get a bit of a muffin top going on, like it or not!
Diet is very important, whether you’re trying to lose weight or put on muscle, or a combination of both. This isn’t going to be the definitive blog on food, but I’ll give you a few easy pointers to get you moving in the right direction to aid your training.
1 – Don’t eat a giant meal seconds before going to training. Eat a small portion, concentrating on carbohydrates, which will give you sustained energy over a long period of time, and try and eat at least an hour and a half before training begins.
2 – On carbs, try and stay away from simple carbohydrates (white bread, pasta and the like). Simple carbs are quickly broken down by your digestive system, giving you one big burst of energy for a short period of time, then the excess that isn’t used up in that period is stored as fat, which is harder to burn off. Go for complex carbohydrates, as these take longer for your body to break down, so you will get more energy for longer, and you have more chance to burn of this steady burn of energy, so less (or none if you’re lucky) is stored as fat. Complex carbs are things like bananas and wild rice; anything stodgy that isn’t overly-processed, basically.
3 – After training late in the day or evening, stay away from carbs if you can as you don’t want more energy at this point. Try and eat protein (meat, fish, eggs, tofu) and vegetables or salad.
4 – Protein is essential for building muscle. Even if you don’t want loads of muscle, after training you will have (probably) worked hard and torn muscle fibres as you’ve exercised. These fibres need to be repaired, and the only thing that can do that is protein, so stock up.
5 – For women that think to themselves ‘I don’t want to be all muscley, yuk! So I won’t eat lots of protein!’, wrong! Muscle weighs more than fat, but it looks a lot better, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, therefore the more fat you will lose. Most women would have to work out like crazy people to get really ripped, defined muscles, while following a very strict zero fat diet, so don’t worry about ending up like Schwarzenegger, it’s not going to happen easily.
6 – Try and eat five to six small meals or portions throughout the day for a sustained, steady stream of energy that your body is able to control. Three meals a day will fill you up, but your body will experience a big crash three times a day as your sugar levels suddenly bottom out before eating again, which will push your system into starvation mode and will slow up your metabolism.
7 – Drink tons of water!