If you have just started a new workout routine and are looking for a way to get even better results at the gym, adding key nutrients to your diet can really help. Strength training and endurance training can only take your body so far without the proper nutrition. However, getting in the right nutrients will help you build muscle and endurance faster and more efficiently. You can get better results at the gym by using the following nutrition principles that athletes employ when they are training.
1. Key Minerals
To achieve better results at the gym, you will want to make sure that you are getting all of your nutrients, especially calcium and iron. Calcium is not just a mineral that is important for bone health. It is also needed to help with smooth muscle contractions when you are working out. Since calcium is lost in sweat, you need to be extra diligent about getting enough. Eating a lot of dark green leafy vegetables, unhulled sesame seeds, and broccoli will help you meet your calcium needs. Iron is another important mineral for athletes. It is needed for maintaining red blood cells, but it is also lost in sweat and is broken down in tissues when you run or jump. Eating iron rich foods like pumpkin seeds, legumes, green leafy vegetables, and even molasses can help you make sure you are replenishing the iron supplies that are lost during your workout.
To reach your highest potential in your workouts, you need to make sure you are recovering after you train hard. In order to properly recover you need to refuel your muscles with glycogen. During an intense workout, muscles release their glycogen stores. The glycogen needs to be replaced so that muscle repair and building can take place. The best way to replace glycogen is to have a snack within 20 minutes after your workout. You will want to make sure that your snack has a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Toast with almond butter or fruit with nuts are great snacks to help you meet this ratio. It is very easy to pack an apple and some almonds in your gym bag so you can replenish your glycogen stores right after you finish your workout.
3. Branched Chain Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they repair and build muscle tissue. Branched chain amino acids are specific amino acids that help your body go from a catabolic (breaking down) state to an anabolic (rebuilding) state, which means they help your muscles rebuild after you have trained hard. These amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Instead of worrying about finding specific supplements for these amino acids, you can get all you need from whole foods like hemp protein, legumes, sesame seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, and salmon. The best time to eat these foods is 30 to 60 minutes after you have finished your workout and at least 20 minutes after your post-workout snack. While this seems a bit regimented, this timing is critical for achieving maximum muscle recovery and building.
Even though working out is very healthy for your body, free radicals are created when you work out. Because free radicals are created, it is very important to make sure you eat foods that are rich in antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals. When left unchecked, free radicals can lead to post-workout soreness and chronic inflammation. Drinking green tea or eating berries with your workout snack will help you replenish your antioxidants and keep free radicals at bay, which will hopefully mean you experience much less soreness after you train.
5. Essential Fatty Acids
Carbohydrates and protein are important for achieving your training goals, but it is also important to consume adequate amounts of essential fatty acids when you are looking to get results at the gym. Essential fatty acids include omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and they support the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems. They also help your body absorb nutrients, and omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for keeping inflammation down. Believe it or not, eating these healthy fats will actually help your body burn fat as fuel. Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and salmon are all great sources of essential fatty acids.
Because electrolytes are lost in sweat, it is very critical that they are replaced if you want to achieve maximum performance. Electrolytes include the minerals calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphates, and potassium. They move glucose into cells, remove waste products from cells, and maintain the flow of electricity in the body. While you can reach for a sports drink to replenish electrolytes, a much healthier option would be to drink some coconut water that has some chia seeds added to it.
7. Hormone Support
When you work out, your cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone, and it can be taxing on the adrenal glands, leaving you feeling fatigued. You can achieve better results at the gym if you keep your cortisol levels in check. A simple way to do this is to add a small amount of maca to your smoothies. Maca is an adaptogen, which means it regulates hormone levels. Maca is also known to increase muscle building, and is often used by athletes. Aside from adding maca to your diet, you can also try meditation as a way to keep your stress hormone down.
Anytime you are trying to increase strength or endurance, you want to make sure you're getting the proper nutrition so your training progresses like you want it to. Try adding these nutrition tips for working out to your routine to increase your performance. You should be happy with the results. What nutrition tips do you follow when you are working out?