Grab your cheat sheet…
“You can’t outrun a bad diet…”
“You are what you eat…”
“Abs are made in the kitchen…”
We often hear phrases like these highlighting the importance of eating well when it comes to getting in shape and staying healthy. But is there any truth to this well-trodden statement? (Spoiler alert: there is).
Knowing that you should eat well to support your fitness goals is one thing—but knowing why and how to approach nutrition from a fitness and wellness point of view is another.
So we’re here to dig down into what makes the food you eat such a crucial part of your fitness journey, and how you can upgrade your nutrition to enhance your results in the gym.
How much impact does nutrition have on fitness?
Nutrition has a huge impact on your fitness. Numbers get thrown around, like 70% diet and 30% workout— but it’s not really measurable in that way. Not when you’re juggling more plates than a stressed-out waiter.
Also, we also shouldn't look at fitness solely in terms of numbers. We should view diet and exercise as two sides of the same coin. Or a scale that needs balancing out.
Just as it’s no good working your ass off in the gym but then munching down junk food every day—it’s also not a good idea to fuel your body with optimal food sources to then never get off the couch and move around.
With that in mind, here are a few key things you can do regarding your nutrition that can help push your fitness results to the next level.
Track your calories
Recording exactly what you consume each day is the way forward—no matter what your main fitness goal may be.
You can only really know if you’re eating too much or too little (and by how much) if you track your calories and your macros.
Calories can add up very quickly, and lots of foods contain more than you might think. So it’s vital you track these either manually or digitally, and then make adjustments as needed.
There are plenty of great tracking apps or online resources that make it simple to monitor your food intake without having to do the math yourself.
The amount of food you eat is just as important as the kinds of food you eat. So make sure your portion sizes are in line with your goals and the amount of exercise you do.
Working out your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your optimal daily calorie intake is your first step here.
Doing so will empower you to plan out exactly how much you should be eating for each meal and snack to fuel your workouts.
Speaking of snacks, there is nothing wrong with snacking. Just be sure to account for them in your meal plan and your daily calorie and macro counts.
You need to box smart with the types of snacks you eat as well. Switch out anything processed or full of sugar for fruits and vegetables and high-protein treats.
Some solid (and pretty lip-smacking) options include…
- Peanut butter with fruit or veggies (apple slices and carrot sticks are both great for dipping, or you could spread the PB across celery sticks and top with raisins)
- Greek yogurt mixed with berries
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Handful of mixed nuts
- Protein shakes and smoothies
- Homemade protein bars
- Overnight oats
CrazyTip: Check out our epic guide on how to meal prep your way to sports nutrition success for insider advice on how to get the right foods at the right times.
Avoid drinking your calories
It feels strange saying that drinks count as nutritional content—but they absolutely do—especially as some can contain a hell of a lot of calories.
This is an area where you can rack up your calorie intake without even thinking if you’re not careful.
Beverages often go untracked or unnoticed as it doesn’t really feel like you’re consuming anything—but you are, so make sure to include them in your calorie tracker.
Protein shakes are great for upping the protein content in your diet, and black coffee or a pre-workout supplement can give you the energy you need to power through at the gym. But, beyond that, water should be your main beverage of choice as it’s calorie-free and keeps you hydrated.
It’s the highly calorific sodas, alcoholic drinks, energy drinks, and sugary fruit juices that you need to watch out for and cut way back on.
To really step up your nutritional game, try supplementing your diet and workout routines with some of these body-boosting goodies.
A simple way to get more protein into your diet is with protein shakes. There are plenty of flavors to choose from and they can be mixed with milk or water, plus fruits and vegetables, nut butter, and various other ingredients to make smoothies.
A 5g serving of creatine each day can enhance athletic performance and bring intensity to your workouts.
As your creatine stores build up you’ll have more strength and stamina to lift harder and heavier.
Pre-workout supplements can get you feeling pumped up and ready to make the most out of your gym sessions.
Just take it 30 minutes beforehand for a boost to your energy levels and to sharpen your focus.
If bulking up is your goal but you are struggling to eat enough to put on muscle, then mass gainers are your new best friend.
Along with protein, these powders also contain complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to help you pack on muscle mass and round out your daily macro needs.
Is nutrition as important as exercise?
The short answer is: Yes, nutrition is every bit as important as exercise. Maybe even more so.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be one or the other that you focus on. In fact, you should be taking both into consideration. Nutrition and exercise should go hand in hand and complement each other.
A good workout routine will only get you so far if your nutrition doesn’t match it—and proper nutrition fuels your body—not just throughout daily life, but your workouts too.
Lean proteins support muscle growth and aid muscle recovery after a challenging workout.
Healthy fats increase blood flow while regulating hormones and blood sugar levels. Complex carbs provide sustained energy throughout the day as well as during your exercise routine.
Proper nutrition timing also plays a factor in exercise performance.
Consuming carbohydrates and lean proteins before physical activity gives you the energy you’ll need to perform at your best.
Then your post-workout nutrition should focus on additional protein to rebuild muscle tissue and promote growth of lean muscle mass.
Staying hydrated is also crucial for optimal physical performance as well as your overall health. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
What else impacts fitness goals?
A balanced diet clearly plays a vital role in achieving your fitness goals—but there are other elements to consider too.
You should also exercise regularly, whether you want to reduce body fat or focus on muscle growth. It’s all about finding the right fitness routine and building an active lifestyle that works for you.
Mindset is another key factor and should not be underestimated. The great news is that when you make better nutritional choices, your body and mind will both come to expect more of the same, and you’ll naturally find it easier to stick to your healthy diet plan.
Finally, there is a genetic component to fitness and nutrition. Some people naturally find it easier or harder than others to lose weight or see muscle development, so you should take this into consideration when leveling up your lifestyle.
Where should you start with sports nutrition?
What you eat plays a massive role in your fitness journey. But it can be difficult to get everything you need from food sources alone—which is why supplements are such a popular way to enhance a healthy diet and fuel workout regimes.
There are protein and mass gainers for building muscle, pre-workout supplements to get you energized before taking on high-intensity exercise, and high-quality creatine for optimal performance and enhanced strength and endurance.
Level up your performance with CrazyNutrition
Supplements are often the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. So, adding the right supplements to your daily routine is a real no-brainer.
Check out the full Crazy Nutrition range to find the best sports nutrition supplements that reflect your ambitions and will help you take the next step on your fitness journey. Go get some.