Nutrition plays a key role in health and performance. With strength athletes, it’s not just about eating “clean.” It’s about getting enough of various kinds of food. Proper nutrition is as important as, if not more important than, training. You know what they say: you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. If you’re a regular gym-goer, you know by now that your diet should complement your efforts in the gym. When considering how to adjust your nutrition, there are several questions you should ask yourself. Here are five to start.
1. How Much Food Am I Supposed to Be Eating?
Answer: very likely, more than you currently are.
So many of us, women particularly, are scared of eating too much. Little do we know our bodies need those extra calories to repair and rebuild. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to lose body fat as they start to increase calories.
This doesn’t mean you should instantly start consuming an extra thousand calories a day. Gradual increases are best, and you should also consider what kind of nutrients you need, and when. This brings us to the second question.
2. What Should I Be Eating More Of?
Answer: it depends.
Not a very helpful answer, we know. But there are numerous things to take into consideration. Do you want to gain, lose or maintain your weight? Are you mostly sedentary or very active?
If you don’t move around a lot, you’ll need far fewer carbs. If you lift heavy weights five times a week, you need a lot more. Do you know how much protein you’re currently getting and how much you need? Are you getting enough healthy fats?
Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. Answering the above questions will start to help you zero in on how many calories you need, and what kind of calories you should be consuming.
3. Which Diet is Best for Me?
Answer: what do you need and how do you like to eat?
We don’t mean to answer a question with a question, but this is where you should start. If you want to add muscle to your frame, for instance, keto might not be the answer. If you hate eating breakfast, consider intermittent fasting. If you want to eat whatever the heck you want, flexible dieting might be right for you.
4. Do I Really Have to Be on a Strict Diet?
Many experts will tell you to follow an 80/20 rule: follow the rules 80% of the time, and let loose the other 20% of the time. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to cut out carbs or fat or anything else in order to have a healthy diet and achieve your goals.
5. How Do I Go About Food Restrictions?
Answer: Eliminate what you need to, but make sure you replace those lost nutrients.
Fortunately, we’re finding a lot more food substitutes these days for people who have certain food restrictions. You don’t have to sacrifice vitamins and nutrients because of an allergy or intolerance. Cutting out all grains? Going dairy-free? No problemo. Just make sure you’re getting that nutrition and fuel elsewhere.
Figuring out the nutrition you need is not a simple task, because we are all so unique in a variety of ways. See what other people are doing for inspiration and education; but at the end of the day, remember this: you need to find what’s right for you.