5 Nutrition Strategies to Improve Workout Performance
Today I have a treat for you, a guest post from my friend Mike Polis. He is the founder of StrengthRD LLC, and is a Registered Dietitian who works specifically with athletes. Mike is also an athlete himself, an elite level competitive powerlifter in the 75kg weight class. - DJ
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts diligently put in the training hours needed to get better. No question about it – we invest time and effort into perfecting our craft and developing strength in the weight room. We log hours upon hours training and practicing. We listen to our coaches. We have the athlete’s mindset.
However, often times we sell ourselves short by failing to fully invest in optimizing our nutritional behaviors.
Nutrition is a powerful tool that can take your training and performance to new heights. Curious on how to start making nutrition work for you? Well, you have come to just the right place. Here are five strategies you can apply that will help improve your workout performance.
Build a Base
The demands of training are definite stressors to the body. Recovery from workouts is a necessity if you want to continue to train and get better.
Plain and simple – recovery and changes in body composition cannot happen if your nutritional intake is poor. One absolutely cannot outwork a bad diet and expect great results.
First, assess your food choices, be honest with yourself, and see where you can make adjustments.
Start small. Build a base: Eat with a purpose.
- Focus your efforts on consuming lean protein at both meals and snacks, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, incorporating healthy fats, and opting for whole grain carbohydrate choices.
- Consider tracking your calorie intake on a calorie counting app and contacting a Registered Dietitian or nutrition professional for guidance.
By reworking your food architecture and nutrition environment, the results will follow. The stronger your nutritional foundation, the greater the return on investment will be. Invest in your nutrition and build that base!
Fuel for Impact
The three macronutrients are carbohydrate, protein, and fat. For optimum performance, most athletes need a mix of all three macronutrients present in the diet.
Carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel for the body. Carbohydrates can be found in starchy vegetables (potatoes), rice, cereals, breads, and fruits.
Although carbohydrates receive negative press from time to time, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can benefit from consuming carbohydrates to optimally fuel the body for performance.
If performance is the goal, carbs in the bowl.
Protein is an important “building block” for muscular health. Protein can be found in chicken, turkey, tofu, legumes, dairy, eggs, red meat, and fish.
Fats are an essential nutrient needed to absorb certain vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K) and regulate hormones. Fats are found in most meats and nuts/seeds, oils, and avocados.
A goal without a plan is just a goal.
Planning meals in advance and having snacks handy when traveling is a surefire way to build upon your nutritional base. Fruit, beef jerky, string cheese, and nuts/seeds are all portable performance snacks.
Performance declines with as little as 2 percent decrease in body weight from water (sweat loss).
Assess and monitor your urine color before starting a workout or training session. Clear to light yellow is suggestive of optimal hydration status. If performance improvement is a goal, never go into a training session in a dehydrated state. Water intake pre, intra, and post training is critical for maintaining optimal performance.
In terms of food consumption, shift your focus to consuming fruits and vegetables which are composed mostly of water. They are an excellent way to increase your water intake to help meet your hydration needs.
As an athlete or fitness enthusiast, it can be easy to lose sight of food’s primary purpose: to nourish your body. Eat with a purpose to fuel the greatest gift you will ever own. Try new recipes, taste new foods, cook with various herbs and spices, simply enjoy food.
Most importantly, live well in all that you do.
Mike Polis MS, RD, CSSD, LD