Consistency in training and clean eating go hand-in-hand if you wish to see results in your workout. Clean eating is essentially a diet that is based on eating whole foods and avoiding processed and refined foods. Not only does nutritious food aid in building muscle, but they also fuel up your body for training. By eating the right foods and hydrating in the right amounts at the right times, you will perform better while seeing the best results.
Before a Workout
It is crucial to fuel up, especially before you do intensive training. It is ideal to do so two hours before. Without any food in your system to aid in your workouts, you won't have enough energy to maximise your exercise, and you will ultimately limit your ability to burn calories.
Before engaging in any physical activity, you must hydrate with water. Eating carbohydrates like whole wheat toast, whole grain cereals, brown rice, pasta, yoghurt, and fruits and vegetables, among others, is a great way to kickstart your fueling-up process. If you are in a hurry and can't grab a hearty meal, having a piece of fruit such as a banana or a light snack such as whole grain crackers or a good pre-workout is also a good way to gear up for your workout.
We've also written a whole guide on what to eat before after training here.
After a Workout
After any kind of exercise, recharging with food must always follow. Because you burn a lot of carbohydrates, the main fuel for your muscles, replenishing them with a healthy amount of carb intake as well as starches is perfect for after a workout. Meals with food like brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, oats, pasta, bread, cereals, and wraps are a great way to refuel.
Protein is another part of your diet to look out for. Protein shakes are a quick and easy way to replenish, as well as eating meals with egg, chicken, meat or fish. Having fruits and vegetables, too, containing fibre like apples, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, and mango is a fun and delicious way to recharge the body.
Why is it important to eat clean?
Training paired with healthy eating helps maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximise performance, and improve recovery time. Hydration, too, is a good addition to prep for any kind of physical activity. Simply limiting your intake of processed foods make you feel better overall, especially when you see that your cravings will decrease.
These are all general guidelines, so a lot depends on what kind of workout you are doing and how often you do them, but it's always good to keep in mind that healthy eating will always be rewarding. You don't have to stick to a strict and rigid diet – simply looking out for your daily food intake is good enough, and soon you will find that eating clean will be a habit. Most importantly, listen to your body and do what works best for you.
A Good Way to Start: Eliminating Added Sugar Intake
Avoiding food with added sugars does not have to mean eating food that is not enjoyable. It simply means eating food in its most natural state without any artificial and added sugar.
An easy way to kickstart your clean-eating journey this way is by getting a better awareness and understanding the nutritional information of the foods in your kitchen. It's best to try to add as much fresh produce to your daily diet as possible. Get familiar with the best-tasting in-season vegetables and play around with spices. Fruits are a better alternative source for your sweet cravings as they contain natural sugars.
When you start adopting this method of clean eating, it's important to go about it slowly rather than completely diving into it. Taking your time with it can help you see what works best for your body.
How can cutting out added sugar affect my body?
Shaking off sugar is hard because it's simply delicious – we totally understand. What's interesting is that these added sugars not only taste good but also release feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine. This means that the more sugar you consume, the better you feel – at least temporarily. Unfortunately, this also means that immediately switching off any sugar intake will then cause your body to go into withdrawal mode. At first, you may experience exhaustion, headaches, brain fog, hormonal imbalances, and irritability. Although after a week or so of slowly cutting out food with added sugar in your diet, as we suggest, you will find that your energy will begin to improve, and you will feel more alive and less irritable.
Benefits of eliminating added sugars
Eating food in its most natural form can have a significant impact on your health. Eating less of these added sugars can result in a clearer complexion and better sleep. It will also make your body feel even better overall when combined with eating more protein and following a regular exercise routine that includes both cardio and weight training. It's all about balance.
Remember, eating right isn't about strictly avoiding specific foods or punishing yourself. It's about choosing simple, unrefined things and enjoying them.