At Geelong’s Gym, most of our loyal members recognise and understand the benefits of taking a holistic approach toward their lifestyle. Which is why many of you are willing to crawl out of bed when it’s 8 degrees outside, throw on your gym gear and make your way to an early morning spin or pump class. And there are many more of you who prioritise fitting in a weights session after work. Of course, another huge aspect of a healthy lifestyle is paying attention to what goes into your mouth. Exercising and eating a healthy diet go hand in hand. Often the more you focus on improving one element of your lifestyle the more motivated you become to improve in other areas. Why put in all that hard work in the gym if you’re not reaping the full benefit from it by eating well, recovering properly and getting adequate sleep?
However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy. Life happens. It takes deliberate planning to stay on top of buying the right foods, preparing meals in advance and avoiding the endless diet distractions we see at the checkout of every supermarket and café counter.
It really is worth the effort though. A little bit of effort to get started on the right track can make an enormous difference to how you feel and function long into the future. Here are some of the possible benefits of cleaning up your diet:
- Decrease episodes of brain fog,
- Provide the fuel for your training to get the most out of workouts,
- Reduce body fat,
- Reduce inflammation in your body including skin irritations,
- Enhance your mood,
- Increase your energy levels for everyday activity,
- Increase your quality of life.
Now that’s a pretty impressive list!
Even when you decide to eat healthier, knowing exactly what that means can be challenging. Should you follow a strict diet, undertake a detox, become a vegan, vegetarian or get your body into ketosis? While they are all indeed possibilities, let’s have a look at what the essentials of a gym goers diet are.
While there are some fundamental principles that will apply to everyone such as ensuring adequate hydration, my first question is always what are you eating for? What are your goals? Your diet will probably vary depending on whether you are trying to lose fat, build strength or train for the Melbourne Marathon this October.
Assuming you are moderately active, undertaking some form of resistance training and don’t have any marathons in sight, here are my top three suggestions.
- Make sure you are eating enough.
Yep, this is my starting point because so many people who set out to clean up their diet do so through restriction alone. Not meeting your daily energy demands causes your body to try it’s best to hold onto precious energy stores rather than burn them liberally! When you restrict for a long period of time you can start to become flat and tired and if you then go back to old eating habits you will likely add additional body fat very easily.
Find out how many kilojoules you should be consuming for your age, sex, height and weight. For example, according to the Australian and New Zealand Nutrient Reference Values a 30-year-old female who is 170cm tall, 63kgs and moderately active should be consuming around 9600 kJ per day or around 2290 calories. Then from there it’s a matter of trial and error.
- Eat Protein.
For many people who work out, protein for muscle repair and recovery is high on my list of must haves. In the western world we tend to have a very carb heavy breakfast so finding out how to best include approx. 20-30 grams of protein into your first meal of the day is a must. A few suggestions; adding half a cup of plain Greek yoghurt into your breakfast will give you approximately 11g of protein. While other yoghurts such as coconut are great for healthy fats they are going to give you far less protein. If you don’t like yoghurt, you can get 6 grams from an egg, or basically any amount from a number of protein shake options.
- Eat Fresh.
Cue “eat more fruits and vegetables!” This is one we all know and yet still many of us find the quick and easy packaged option so hard to avoid. There are a number of healthy pre-prepared meal options in Geelong if you need to eat on the run. Just make sure you are including vegetables (raw or slightly cooked), salad, fruits and nuts or seeds with most meals. Nuts such as almonds, macadamias and cashews are a great staple food as they are high in calories (healthy fats), protein and also fibre.
Now, I could have given you a long list of what to avoid, but being a health-conscious gym goer, I think you know to steer clear of the fried food and soft drink! Start with these three tips and find an eating plan that works for you.