Your whole mindset about food changes when you view it as “fuel” for you workouts rather than the enemy.
Many people, women especially, are scared of food-scared to eat “too much”, or scared to eat certain food groups, such as carbs. Which is why often times I find that many women are not eating enough, or just not enough of the right foods.
OR they are restricting themselves and eating very little during the day or throughout the week, only to binge and eat like crap at night or the whole weekend. NOT a great way to get results or have a good relationship with food.
Food is NOT the enemy. If you are active, and especially if you are lifting weights, you need to view food as FUEL.
What many people fail to realize is that what you eat the night before and the morning of can have a huge affect on your workout. It can be the difference between having a great workout and feeling strong, or having a crappy workout. If you didn’t eat enough calories or enough carbs the day before, then you’re probably not going to have the energy to push hard or to lift heavy. On the other hand, if you ate too much junk food, then you may feel tired and sluggish the next day.
Case in point: I had a client the other day who was really struggling to get through the metabolic circuit portion of her workout after her strength exercises. Come to find out, she hadn’t eaten anything that whole day. Noooo bueno. Needless to say, she learned her lesson.
Now, let me make this clear: I am a firm believer that the food you eat absolutely should taste good! By saying that food is fuel, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t also enjoy it, because you should. But… if you are lifting weights, trying to build muscle and/or transform your physique-the way you eat is about more than just satisfying your taste buds. It’s about eating to support your goals.
If you want to build muscle, you have to eat slightly more calories than you burn. You have to be eating the right things(namely, protein and carbs) before and after your workouts so that you can push hard in the gym and lift heavy and to rebuild the muscles that you’ve broken down during your workout. You can’t eat like a bird and expect to build muscle.
Similarly, if your goal is to just get really strong, then you have to eat enough, especially before your workouts, so that your muscles have the energy and endurance they need to lift heavy weights. Believe me, you’re gonna have a real hard time getting stronger or setting a personal record if you are not properly “fueled” on a heavy lifting day.
Even if your goal is fat loss, you still need to be strategic in how you eat around your workouts in order to prevent muscle loss as you diet, as well as to give you energy to get through your workouts, especially if you are lifting or doing high intensity interval training.
When you view food as fuel-that is, as something that provides you with nutrients and gives you energy, strength and endurance for your workouts-it totally changes the way you eat. Instead of viewing food as the enemy or restricting it just to lose weight or to get skinny, you start to see it as a good thing. You see it as your friend and NOT your enemy, because you know that if used the right way, it is something that can actually help you by enhancing your workouts and helping you to gain muscle and strength.
Having the mindset that food is only for pleasure or that it’s “evil” are both wrong ways to view food. While you shouldn’t give in to every craving for junk food any time it hits, you also shouldn’t be miserable eating foods you don’t enjoy, or denying yourself the calories that your body needs to thrive and function.
We could all learn a little something from athletes, powerlifters, and bodybuilders-they understand the power of food and how it can support their goals and either hinder or enhance their athletic performance and/or muscle building capabilities. And just because you aren’t an athlete, powerlifter, or bodybuilder doesn’t mean that food isn’t just as important in supporting your goals and fueling your workouts.
Let food work for you, not against you!