No matter how good a fitness program you choose, ultimately, everything will come down to your diet. It’s not just about losing weight or counting calories.
People often forget that the food they consume is fuel that the body uses. Food is not therapy. It’s not supposed to make you feel happy or less bored.
When you’re on a training regimen, the foods you consume is the fuel that will determine if your performance during your workouts is optimal or sub-par. It’s crucial that you tailor your diet to suit the fitness program.
* Your carb and caloric intake
When you’re on a high intensity fitness program such as Zumba Strong or Insanity Max, and you’re trying to lose weight – you should NEVER cut your calories too low. Ideally, you should aim for a 500-calorie deficit daily. Do not go lower than a 700-calorie deficit.
If you do this, your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will drop. Your body needs enough fuel to power the high intensity workout. Don’t drop your carbs too low either. Your body needs the glucose.
Yes… it may feel like you’re walking a tight rope, but that’s just how it is. You need to eat enough to fuel your body, but it should also not be too much to prevent weight loss.
* Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a fantastic protocol for weight loss, but you’ll need to understand your body. If you’re the type of person who would rather work out an hour or so after a meal, then you’ll need to adjust your eating and fasting windows accordingly.
Many people prefer to exercise on an empty stomach and then break their fast after that. But if you feel weak on an empty stomach, this may not be a suitable approach.
Make your intermittent fasting protocol work for you.
* Are you changing too much too soon?
This is one of the biggest mistakes most beginners make. They try to overhaul their entire lives overnight. From binge eating in the middle of the night, they suddenly switch to a keto diet the next day in an attempt to change their lives.
It is extremely stressful to adopt a new diet if you don’t ease into it gradually. Your sugar addiction will cause you to have cravings. You’ll be hungry, angry and depressed all at the same time.
To make matters worse, these folks decide to embark on a gruelling fitness program too. Now their lives seem absolutely dreadful to them. Not only can they not eat what they want, but they also need to suffer by exercising daily.
This all seems too much to bear, and within a few days they either cheat on their diets or skip workouts… or in most cases, they do both. They end up feeling like failures and quit.
The truth is that they went all out too hard and too soon. When you first embark on a fitness program, try to make small improvements to your diet daily. Substitute one or two poor food choices with better ones.
Since most fitness programs are 60 to 90 days long, all you need to do is make gradual changes daily and by the 30th day, you’d have made a ton of progress. By the 60th day, you’d be consuming a lot less sugar and simple carbs.
By the 90th day, your diet will be clean and healthy. It all starts with small changes.
* Cheat meals VS cheat days
Ideally, you should have a cheat meal once every 4 or 5 days. People who are obese should stick to 1 cheat meal every 6 days.
There’s a huge difference between a cheat meal and a cheat day. A cheat day may make you gorge on whatever you want and you may end up consuming an excess of 2000 to 4000 calories.
This is especially detrimental to people who are addicted to sugar or have a problem controlling their diet. This one cheat day can have them spiralling down the abyss of uncontrollable eating.
They’ll be much more likely to get back to their old ways and eat unhealthy foods. To prevent this from happening, having one cheat meal should suffice.
Not only will you be able to eat the foods you love and get an emotional respite from your clean diet, but you’ll also boost your metabolism and be ready for the next day’s workout.
There’s only so much you can eat during one cheat meal before you feel full. This will help you stay on track with your fitness goals without undoing several days of training and diet because of one uncontrolled cheat day.
Always bear in mind that this month’s diet is next month’s body. Eat sensibly and ensure that the foods you consume fuel your workouts. You need fuel to perform.
Lastly, remember this quote by Tal Ben-Shahar, “Incremental change is better than ambitious failure. Success feeds on itself.”