When it comes to working towards a fitness goal whether that’s increasing strength or aesthetics, your diet is extremely important and is the foundation of how you feel, affecting how you train, how often you train and how you recover.
It’s so important that, firstly, you fuel your body properly. If you are training hard, you should have a high protein diet with enough fruit and veg for fibre to help your body digest it properly. What a lot of people don’t know is that, protein is one of the hardest nutrients to digest and can cause stomach pain if you are eating it in high quantities, try and aim for at least 25g of fibre a day to help with this.
As mentioned before in previous posts, at the end of 2017 and into 2018 I tried a ‘bulk’. For someone that carries their weight on their stomach and hips I began to feel uncomfortable with how I felt in my clothes and just felt a little bit self-conscious. It’s important to remember that genetics has a lot to do with where people hold fat, some people hold fat in their lower body and have a super lean upper-body and vice versa, some people hold it in their back, their thighs, bum, arms, stomach…and that’s just the way it is! There’s nothing you can do to change this, try and learn to accept and work with it.
Increasing calories more often than not, goes hand in hand with increasing carbs. To gain muscle, as well as a lot of protein, you need a lot of carbohydrate to fill your muscles with glycogen. I increased my carb intake and have since realised a high-carbohydrate diet just isn’t for me. I follow a lot of girls on Instagram who were also bulking around the same time, who would often share their daily macros and I would see that they were hitting in excess of 250g of carbs a day when I was struggling to hit 150g (which still was nowhere near enough for my height/weight for building muscle). The extra carbohydrate intake had the complete opposite effect to what it seemed to have on other people – I felt lacking in energy, lethargic, suffering from stomach pain and just generally felt rubbish!
Instead of pushing myself to comply with what the internet said I should be doing, I decided to try a lower carb, high protein and healthy fats diet, I have been doing this for almost 2 weeks and feel SO much better! I have more energy, I’m not suffering from any soreness and I feel more positive (it’s amazing how much your diet can affect your mood!). My diet now consists of more fish (salmon and tuna), eggs, avocado, nuts (almonds, walnuts) and cheese (believe it or not is a healthy fat in moderation!). Along with plenty vegetables!
Healthy fats spark your metabolism, they keep you fuelled while also keeping your calorie intake in check. Research also suggests that Omega 3 fatty acids (oily fish, nuts) can increase muscle growth.
REMEMBER: Your body holds fat, if you don’t eat fats!
Here is an example of my dinner:
I now get my carbohydrate intake from fruit and vegetables, I will also sometimes have toast with nut butter in the morning, a wholegrain cereal (fibre and carb) or some granola as a snack!
Another part of my diet that has changed is my dairy intake, I think I have always been a little bit intolerant of lactose but recently it became a problem. I absolutely LOVE yoghurt, especially greek yoghurt (high protein, low carb/fat, can be accessorised with literally anything – fruit, honey, granola, chocolate etc!). However, after eating any type of yoghurt I suffered extreme stomach soreness and bloating, to the point of almost being doubled over in pain. I would also sometimes experience this with whey protein powders and milk in general.
I have since cut yoghurt from my diet ☹, whey powders and excess milk and it seems to have made a difference so far. Although I do want to try and re-introduce greek yoghurt again and try the full fat one (another healthy fat!) as previously I was going for the low-fat option. In some dairy products, for example, cheese, the lactose has been broken down more, so you are less likely to have any symptoms (THANK GOD!).
I think the important thing to take from this post is that we are all different, we all have different body shapes down to genetics which there is nothing you can do about apart from embrace it, (unless you want to go under the knife – please don’t!).
We also each have different dietary ‘requirements’ which affect our body differently and what is right for one person, isn’t necessarily going to be right for you. Listen to your body and how it reacts, it might take weeks of adjustments, cutting foods out and introducing them back in before you get to your happy place!
Nutrition and fitness is not a one size fits all!