What you eat when attempting to get in shape is very important: nutrition is your exercise fuel. As an approximation, nutrition contributes 70% to your overall level of physical change.
What I always say is exercise is the ‘spark’, and nutrition is the ‘fuel’. Yes we want to create the biggest ‘spark’ that we can, to create the opportunity for change and growth. And then, we want to fuel ourselves in the best possible way to support the potential change the ‘spark’ provides. Your food becomes this source of exercise fuel.
As well as providing the right fuel following exercise, now also consider the effect your eating has on your exercising the following day...
You may have discovered that each day you turn up for your exercising, you may have varying levels of energy. Sometimes you will have a lot of energy and will begin and complete your exercise session in a vigorous and motivated way. Some days, you might feel a little tired, and you might begin your exercise in a slower and less excited fashion.
There are several factors that influence your feelings of energy on a particular day.
These include the amount and quality of sleep you have had, the efforts you put in your previous exercise session, external work-related stresses, your enthusiasm for what you are doing, your level of focus (or distraction!) on that particular day, and the foods you have eaten recently.
The foods you have recently eaten – over the previous 24 hours – do play a significant role in the energy you take to your next exercise session. They really are the fuel you rely on for the enregy to exercise.
You can use this concept as an extra motivating factor to keep on track with your eating on any particular day.
Beyond the physical change that the right food supports, they can also have a psychological influence on your body. Going into your next exercise session, you can actually ‘count on’ the fact that you have recently eaten well to get yourself to exercise to the highest possible level of effort.
If you have eaten well the day before, you can ‘know’ that whatever level of intensity you take your body to, it will respond right.
Exercise fuel and remembering what you ate
You may have heard of the concept of kinesiology. This is where we use a chosen thought to have an influence on our physical response or behaviour. You can use this to your advantage with the concept of exercise fuel in two ways:
Going into your next exercise session, briefly remember all the ‘clean’ and nutritious foods you have eaten. Think of the protein you have supplied your body, and the nutritious complex carbohydrates. Think of these foods as existing as fuel throughout your entire body. Think of the clean and consistent energy that your body has derived from these foods. Know that the physical actions that you are going to take will be well-supported by the presence of this energy that you have created in your body from your foods.
So go into your exercise session with confidence that your foods from the last day have ‘got your back’.
During your highest intensity workouts, call-upon the quality foods you have recently eaten to give you the strength to give it your all. This practice of kinesiology directly allows energised images that your mind creates to create real physical energy in your muscles.
When you think of leafy-green vegetables, when you create that thought of a large bowl full of crisp steamed vegetables of all colours and textures, the positive emotions of your mind create potential strength in your body. Your body, effectively together with your mind, recognises the potency of this bowl of vegetables, and actually feels this potency and energy.
Do it now! Conjure up the image of this nutritious and powerful food. Or maybe you will think of a thick and juicy piece of fresh fish, served on a bed of salad and rice. Feel it! In your mind, and in your body. How does that feel compared to conjuring up the image of artificially-flavoured candies out of a foil bag?
For that extra ‘kick’ of energy, you can bring into your mind thoughts of, say, ‘leafy green vegetables’, or ‘fresh fish with salad’. Imagine these foods while you are actually lifting your weights or running. When you create this image, you will feel a surge of energy and strength that is very useful!
Exercise fuel - your food - is a significant part of Body Transform, and indeed of your life. Use this to your advantage! Be aware of the influence that it has, and use this as motivation to make the right choices during the day.
Use your exercise fuel to make the most of your previous exercising. And then use the kinesiology exercise for extra strength and power. Try this out in your next exercise session and learn to prepare your meals, and your self, with food!