For years and years, we've been told to eat less and do more cardio if we want to see results, but now the story is being rewritten. Lifting heavy and eating more may be the best way to lose fat and keep it off.
It's right there in that new plan: you can't have fitness without nutrition. You can be hitting the gym every single day, lifting and getting your heart rate up, but if you are not feeding your body properly, the results are less likely to come. We spoke to Rachael DeVaux, RD, CPT, and founder of the blog Rachael's Good Eats, who told POPSUGAR, "the more you lift weights, the more your muscles burn fat on your body and the more nutrients you need to consume to prevent muscle breakdown and keep that metabolism going."
Rachael stresses the importance of consuming a balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats so your body can perform at its best. Here are her top five recommended foods that will fuel a killer workout.
- A piece of fruit and nuts: This is the easiest snack to grab and go, if you are in a rush. Our expert particularly loves this option for those who do not have an appetite early in the morning. Don't skip the nuts component on this recipe, though. "Healthy fats and protein is crucial to slow the digestion of carbohydrates, helping to stabilize your blood sugar and avoid a crash."
- Dates with almond butter: Dates are a powerhouse of energy that you shouldn't fear just because of their high content in sugar. It's all natural and the most ideal time you want to be consuming foods higher in sugar content is closer to your workout. This will allow you to utilize the energy more efficiently.
- A smoothie: Keep it light and keep it simple before your workout with a serving of fruit, greens, nut milk, and protein powder. Liquids are a lot easier on the stomach especially if you work out early in the morning. One of Rachael's key tips is ensuring adequate protein intake before and after lifting to prevent breakdown of muscle and aid in recovery.
- A hard-boiled egg: This is perfect if you're looking for something quick that you can meal prep ahead of time. If you pair it with half an avocado and some blueberries, you are getting that ideal trifecta of carbs, healthy fats, and protein.
- Sweet potato toast: If you haven't tried slicing sweet potato and toasting it with some avocado or nut butter on top, let me tell you that you are missing out "Trending or not, this option of toast is a great complex carbohydrate to offer lasting energy throughout your workout," Rachael says. She slices a sweet potato about a quarter of an inch thick and runs it through the toaster several times until it becomes tender.
The best time to eat before a workout: If you are planning on consuming a meal high in fat before lifting weights, try to eat it two to three hours before hitting the gym — food higher in carbohydrates should be eaten 30 to 90 minutes ahead. Your body can't burn through fat as efficiently as carbohydrates so this can cause your muscles and digestive system to compete against one another while you work out.
The important thing is that your body needs to be fueled right in order to progress with lifting weights. Eating too much before lifting can make you feel sick or weighed down just as not eating may cause you to feel lightheaded. Rachael ultimately recommends: "Experiment to find what works best for you and your body and go from there."