With the advent of the new year, people are once more driven to pursue what may be one of the most coveted yet seemingly most elusive accomplishments for many: getting fit.
While this may appear even more difficult due to the drastic lifestyle changes many have had to face in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying restrictions, being fit can still be attainable if you properly set fitness goals.
But, first, what exactly are fitness goals anyway?
Fitness Goals: Setting It Straight
Fitness goals are often associated with physical fitness, although they aren’t limited to physical well-being. Fitness can also pertain to muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, mental sharpness, and cardiorespiratory endurance, among others. Fitness goals then serve as guideposts that can specify the challenges you’ve set for yourself, the main objective of which is to bring you closer to becoming fit—in this case, physically. These can either be for the short or long term, depending on a number of factors, such as your current physical fitness level, the effect you want to achieve, the time you can spend doing these activities or exercises, etc.
Diet And Fitness: How Your Food Can Influence Your Fitness Goals
When setting your fitness goals, one important factor that you must take into consideration is your diet. After all, what you eat affects not only the way your body performs physical activities, but how it develops itself when exercising or working out. For instance, certain types of food may be better for weight loss than muscle building. On the other hand, a combination of a variety of foods can lead to better endurance. The important thing to remember is that what you consume will give your body the fuel it needs to perform a certain type of workout or exercise, which can lead to achieving a particular fitness goal. Eating the right type of food can also extend to your pre- or post-workout routines, allowing you to maximize the effect you want to attain.
Along with the right exercise routines, take note of how the following types of food can influence different kinds of fitness goals:
- Protein For Muscle Building And Recovery
Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights or doing strength or resistance training isn’t the end-all and be-all of gaining and building muscle. Without proper nutrition, all your training will be for naught, and you might even end up injuring yourself. So, when it comes to building lean muscle, it’s best to eat foods that offer you high-quality protein as its main function is to build and repair cells, including muscle cells. Eating a snack or meal containing protein during and after your workout can increase muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of building muscle mass.
Examples of food that are rich in protein include the following:
- Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and tilapia
- Chicken or turkey breast
- Lean meats
- Soy and tofu
- Greek yogurt
However, keep in mind that protein alone won’t be able to support muscle growth or recovery. You also need to include calories in your diet; else, the protein you take in will be burned for fuel rather than be used to aid in muscle development. Without the necessary calorie intake, you risk burning too much protein, which might even lead to injuries when you unwittingly overexert yourself.
Aside from consuming the appropriate amount of calories, eating foods rich in vitamins C and D, amino acids, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and manganese can get you the right nutrition for pain or injuries experienced by your tendons and ligaments.
- Carbohydrates For Energy
Carbohydrates are to your body as fuel is to a car—you can’t run without them. They’re one of the important macronutrients your body needs primarily for energy. While fats and protein act as long-term sources of energy, carbohydrates fill the body’s immediate need for fuel through their resulting converted glucose, which your brain and muscles need to function.
More often than not, carbs get a bad rap for allegedly being the cause of unwanted weight gain, but nothing could be farther from the truth as long as you consume the right kinds of carbohydrates. Compared to complex carbs, simple carbs are broken down and released by the body faster, causing weight gain as well as spikes in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, complex carbs take a longer time to digest, thus keeping your blood sugar more stable and delivering energy at a steadier pace.
Glycogen, which comes from complex carbs and is stored in the liver and muscles, is converted back into glucose and used as energy for intense bursts of physical activity, such as weightlifting or sprinting. It also breaks down fat into energy your muscles can use during endurance exercises. In some cases, glycogen may also break down protein, but only as a last resort since this could strain your kidneys and make it harder for the body to build muscle.
- Fiber For Weight Loss
Losing weight may be one of the most difficult fitness goals to attain since each individual responds to this process differently. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss despite the claim of many diet fads. However, regardless of what diet you’re following, it’s safe to assume that the appropriate fiber intake can eventually lead to a safe and healthy way of losing weight.
Without having to make drastic changes to your diet, fiber can assist in weight loss as it’s digested more slowly than simple sugars and starches. Moreover, it neither boosts your blood sugar nor adds calories, yet still allows you to feel full and satisfied after every meal.
You can get fiber from different sources, such as:
- Whole fruits
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit juices
While it’s tempting to go the easy route, it’s still better to get fiber from the natural sources mentioned above instead of supplements, as the latter might contain artificial ingredients and added sugars.
You Are What You Eat
This old adage rings true even today—you are what you eat. If anything can guide you through making the right decisions to attain your fitness goals, it’s this saying. Remember this every time you put something on your plate or get tempted to open a bag of junk food. Without proper nutrition, your fitness goals would always remain a part of your new year’s resolutions.