Beginners’ guide part 5: What about food? How to start a gym-friendly diet

By Kim Barnard

Starting a gym friendly diet doesn’t need to be daunting – you just need to understand the basics and be prepared to do some food preparation.

Firstly, you need to get back to eating real food: in other words the stuff that grew out of the earth or on a tree, swam in the sea, ran on the ground or flew in the sky. Avoid things that have been processed and come in packaging, ready meals or fast food deliveries. It is time to get back to cooking so you understand just what is going into that body of yours. Losing weight and feeling healthy is 80% down to diet.  

Avoid the fad diets, detoxes and juice cleanses. All these will do is cause fluctuations in your body weight and health. They aren’t sustainable and a lot of the time you end up putting back on all the weight that has been lost. What we want to do is create a diet/meal plan that is sustainable for you and keeps you healthy.  

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A lot of people focus on calorie counting, yet this shouldn’t be your only focus. You should also be taking note of the macronutrients that you are ingesting. The below explains the three macros:

Protein: Every time you exercise your muscles break down and then use protein to rebuild and become stronger. This is why protein needs to be the main component of every meal. You should be aiming for one gram of protein per pound of body weight (for example, if you are 120 pounds you should be having 120 grams of protein minimum per day). Stick to lean high quality protein sources like beef, poultry and fish.

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are converted into glucose (sugar) when ingested which is then used to provide energy. When you consume more carbohydrates than are being used up as energy the excess is being stored as fat. You want to avoid simple carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, cakes, etc.

Fat: Unfortunately, fat is the most misunderstood macronutrient in diets. Fat, contrary to popular belief, is absolutely necessary for your body and should make up the majority of your calorie intake.

Your macro split is down to what fitness goals you are trying to achieve. You need to firstly determine the number of calories your body requires in order to calculate your macros. Your required calorie intake is based on your age, gender, weight, rate of metabolism, activity level and goal. There are a number of calculators online which will calculate this for you however I would recommend using the following site http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

Delicious meal

The standard split for macros is 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fats. Don’t get too caught up on the ratios as long as you are roughly sticking to this. I promise it does get easier over time!

Now that you know your base metabolic rate and a rough guide of your macro intake you have an understanding of the number of calories you should be ingesting. So you can start planning meals based around this.

The easiest way to stick to your meal plan is to prep your meals – this eliminates any temptation or picking up food that is unhealthy on the run. For more information on meal prep please check out my previous article here.

Good luck and once you start the process of a gym friendly diet things will become easier and a second nature.

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