No matter how hard you’ve been working to bring those chiseled abs to the surface, there’s one factor that may be working against you without you even knowing. When you get down to basics, it becomes a matter of calories in vs. calories out, but where you’re getting your calories from matters. No matter whether you prefer to use a smooth treadmill or an elliptical to get your exercise in, diet is something you should be paying very close attention to in order to properly fuel your workouts.
We’ve written extensively about how diet affects your fitness efforts, but we wanted to talk about a commonly-misunderstood element that frustrates millions who are trying to achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. Yes, you should make sure that your net calories are in line, but you should also understand that the source of your calories is very important. You can’t expect optimal results if you’re using more calories than you eat, if all you eat are corn chips. There are also a lot of crazy fad diets out there that would have you eating only cabbage soup or subsisting on spicy lemonade, but these aren’t sustainable nutrition systems for people who want to obtain lifelong fitness and health.
So let’s take a look at this very important but often misunderstood concept: feeding yourself for working out. First of all, you need to remember that not everyone’s needs are the same. Dietary and health restrictions, workout goals, types of exercise, the fitness equipment you use—these all affect your body’s needs, so what works for someone else (famous or not) won’t necessarily yield the same results for you. A long distance runner’s diet and that of a weight lifter won’t ever be the same because the needs they must meet are so different.
If you’re doing intense exercise like cross training or endurance running, then you should be planning your diet carefully (ideally with the help of a personal trainer or doctor.) Don’t sabotage your hard work with a poor understanding of workout nutrition!