If you read fitness magazines, visit websites or speak to any fitness coach, personal trainer or gym instructor, they will tend to give you many differing opinions on what type of training is the absolute best for achieving real results. These theories might include CrossFit versus traditional weight training, LISS cardio (Low Impact Steady State) versus HIIT cardio (High Intensity Interval Training) or any one of the multitude of training techniques and principles.
Along with training, there is a huge array of different theories when it comes to nutrition. You have the Atkins Diet, cabbage soup diet, low-fat, high fat, low carbs, high carbs, the Mediterranean Diet, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, macrobiotic, paleo, The Zone Diet, The Detox Diet, the Grapefruit Diet and so many others.
Both of these areas consists of a vast amount of information. Much of it is advocated by so-called “experts” and much of it is simply utter nonsense.
However, when researching or speaking to fitness experts and those in the field, they will all agree on one thing. What you eat plays a huge role in your overall success. In fact, it’s a major factor in determining whether you achieve your goals or not. Some say 70% of success is a result of the food you eat, while others go even higher and say 80% of your results will be centered around what you put into your mouth every day.
It’s imperative that we work smarter while understanding these percentages. If 80% of success comes from food, then it’s important to focus on this area. Now, this is not to say that the other 20% that consists of training should be underestimated. This could not be further from the truth. Your workouts are essential to your success also. Your food intake and training go hand-in-hand and you need to do both properly to get results. However, even though training might not be as important as diet, it is essential that we are performing this 20% to its maximum effectiveness.
While we are training hard in the gym, we are breaking down our muscle fibers, not building them up. This is the reason why working out for hours at a time is not the answer and why doing “just one more set” will not be beneficial to reaching your goals. If you train at the proper intensity during your workouts and have overloaded your muscles and broken them down adequately, then it’s time to get out of the gym and let your body fully recover and grow!
The rebuilding process where your muscle fibers repair themselves occurs in the hours and days after if you eat correctly and rest adequately. Then, and only then, will your muscles repair themselves fully to get bigger and stronger.
When my clients say they want to lose weight, what they actually mean is they want to lose body fat. Losing weight can mean a combination of three things: losing fat, losing muscle or losing water. To ensure we are losing only body fat we need to eat a sufficient amount of lean protein, healthy fats and clean carbohydrates in order to help maintain and increase lean muscle mass. This will give you the lean and athletic look you desire.
Protein also has the benefit of making us feel fuller, longer. Nutrient dense foods such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds help keep us satiated longer, and therefore, less likely to feel constantly hungry. This, in turn, keeps our blood sugar levels constant and helps to manage our cravings during the day.
Now, let’s say you currently train three or four times a week. You also eat at least four times a day including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. That is at least 28 times a week that you’re eating. So, that’s four sessions of training against 28 meals each week. As you can clearly see, your diet has much more of an impact than your training.
Here is another example. Let’s say you workout and burn about 400 calories. That might sound impressive, but when you look at this compared to your food intake, 400 calories is less than one chocolate bar or one can of soda, which you can easily chow down or drink in a matter of minutes! So, a few minutes of enjoyment takes over an hour to burn off in the gym. That is the reason why they say “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”.
I tell my clients to avoid looking at training as simply calories burned. At the end of a grueling 30 minute session when they are sweating, huffing, puffing and panting, I will explain that they have burned the equivalent of a chocolate bar. All that hard work just to burn a tiny bar of chocolate! What happens is that the next time they go out to eat, they will remember how hard that workout session was and realize what it takes to burn off a cheat meal.
Let’s discuss training a little now. Training has two primary functions and these include:
- Building lean muscle tissue.
- Increasing cardiovascular levels.
Even though you will be building muscle, you will also have a layer of body fat laying over your muscle. It’s not until we can reduce this layer fat down to a low level, that the true definition of the muscle can display and be prominent. The best way to reduce body fat levels is accomplished through the foods we eat. The transformation of your physique will be very difficult if you don’t focus on your diet in order to lose excess body fat and get that lean physique you’re after.
Many gym-goers have their training program all planned out and they know what they will do on certain days along with what areas of the body they will be targeting. Some people plan weeks maybe even months ahead. However, if you ask them what they are having for dinner, they have absolutely no idea! They concentrate 80% of their time and effort on something that will only provide them with 20% of their results, and they spend 20% of their time on the key factor that will affect 80% of their success!
Personally, I make sure to spend 80% of my time focused on what I am eating. I plan ahead, cook in bulk and then freeze my meals and also have snacks on hand so I am never caught off guard. I spend the majority of my time on what will give me the majority of my results!