The fitness industry has coined some pretty creative phrases over the decades, with “you are what you eat” and “no pain, no gain” probably being the most popular of the timeless aphorisms. But just how much truth is there in these sayings?
Should you feel physical pain to make gains in and out of the gym? Are you going to turn into a Big Mac if you eat one every day? Not quite.
However, this saying holds some merit, as your diet choices can have a profound impact on your health, emotional and psychological well-being, and physical performance.
In fact, studies have shown time and time again that nutrition is a crucial determining factor in your overall well-being. Let’s take a look whether you truly are what you eat.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
First things first, let’s dispel a couple of myths. Contrary to popular belief, you are not in charge of your body as much as popular media and health gurus would like you to believe.
For instance, how long you will live or how well you will handle aging, while influenced by individual choices regarding nutrition and habits, will mostly boil down to your genetic composition.
That being said, you can use healthy eating to help you reach your genetic potential both in terms of health and fitness.
Moreover, while a healthy diet might moderately boost your health in the long run, poor diet choices can have severe consequences on your well-being.
The ugly truth about nutrition is that while you won’t turn into a superhero if you eat superfoods, your health will suffer greatly if you eat junk.
The Problem with Flexible Dieting
Over the decades, hundreds of popular diets have come and gone, with the majority of them aimed at reducing fat or building muscle mass.
While there is no cookie-cutter solution for every individual’s needs, all of these diets can be boiled down to their basic constituents: calorie intake, and macronutrient requirements.
Flexible dieting has become insanely popular in recent years, allowing you to eat pretty much whatever you want so long as it fits your macros.
The problem with IIFYM dieting is not that it doesn’t work, but that people take the liberal concept too far.
No, you can’t eat whatever you want, because a protein from a cheeseburger is not the same as a protein from lean, untainted meats. The same goes for vitamins and minerals – you need to choose healthy macro and micronutrient sources if you want to achieve your goals.
Eating for Success
Having said all that, when it comes to fitness, nutrition is a crucial element that will define your progress.
Whether you are trying to lose fat, gain muscle, or both at the same time, what you do at the gym will have little to no effect on your physique if your diet choices are bad.
Not only should you choose healthy foods, you also want to have healthy, nutritious snacks at hand such as those from Optifast in order to avoid succumbing to temptation and reaching for sugary substitutes.
This leads us to the next crucial point.
Maximizing Recovery and Growth
In the pursuit of strength, muscle size, and fat loss, how much you eat and what you eat will play a crucial role.
If you are trying to maximize hypertrophy, ideally you would want to be in a calorie surplus, eating above maintenance so that your body gets all the nutrients it needs to build muscle and recover faster from your workouts.
Remember, you need fuel to progress.
Likewise, dropping weight means you will have to eat less calories than your maintenance amount.
Given the fact that one pound equals roughly 3,500 calories, you’ll need to burn or eat 3,500 calories less on a weekly basis to drop one pound of weight weekly. However, keep in mind that a third of the weight you lose will be muscle.
Sticking With Your Healthy Habits
Finally, persistence and dedication is everything. Dieting for two weeks and then going back to your usual sweets n’ chips routine will get you nowhere – fitness goals are achieved over a long period of time.
Remember, it’s a journey, there is no cutting corners.
A great way to stick to your healthy habits is to learn the art of meal preparation, and take your meals with you to work or the gym.
This way, you will feel sated all the time, you will eat healthy foods regularly, and you won’t feel any unhealthy cravings creeping up on you.
In a way, we truly are what we eat. Eating junk on a regular basis will get you nowhere and will only ruin your long-term health.
On the other hand, by following these tips and coupling healthy foods with a calculated diet approach, you will have no problem reaching your full potential in the gym and the kitchen as well.