The key to achieving your desired fitness goals is to workout, in the gym with weights 3 to 4 times a week, and to consistently make healthy food choices. But what does consistently making healthy food choices entail? Making healthy food choices means planning out your meals and holding yourself accountable. It means making sacrifices and even stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Did you know that it takes eight weeks for you to start noticing a change in your body, and 12 weeks for everyone else to notice those changes?
In order for you to sustain healthy habits, staying on track with your workout routines is key. By making healthy food and lifestyle choices consistently, we stay motivated to hit the gym on a regular basis.
Here, I’m going to share with you my personal top ten tips on how you can sustain your energy levels throughout the day to keep you on track and one step closer to your fitness goals.
1. Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night
I cannot stress this enough! Sleep is SO important and correlated to our performance in the gym. Sleep is when our bodies recover and when our muscles repair themselves. Not getting enough sleep will absolutely hinder, not only your performance in the gym, but it can raise your cortisol levels - your stress hormone, hinder our neurological brain activity, and risk us eating poorly. In addition, when we are tired we tend to reach for fast acting carbs, AKA processed foods, in hopes of giving our bodies the jolt of energy we are looking for. Studies show that people who are chronically sleep deprived tend to overeat by about 300 calories a day!! Over a short time, those additional calories will add up fast, and may lead to weight gain.
2. Space out your workouts
If you have ever worked out, you may have felt sore afterwards. That soreness is called DOMS, which stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. When you start to workout, especially in the beginning of a new program, you might experience serious cases of DOMS. This is normal! But it’s a good idea to give your body a day's rest before hitting the gym again. If you over train, you can actually hinder your performance and restrict any kind of muscle growth from happening. To sustain energy throughout the week, I recommend spacing out your workouts or not hitting the same muscle group more than two days in a row.
3. Drink a lot of water
How much water you should drink depends on your bodyweight and height. I usually recommend 2.5-3 liters of water a day. One healthy habit to implement into your daily routine is waking up and drinking a big glass of water as the very first thing you do. Staying hydrated not only helps with our complexion and reducing eye puffiness, but it helps with putting off hunger throughout the day as well. When we are dehydrated we tend to eat more, around 300 to 500 extra calories on average. You know that foggy and lethargic feeling you get sometimes in the afternoon? There may be nothing wrong with you except having a lack of water in your system. Also, if you drink a lot of coffee a day, keep in mind you should be having two glasses of water for every cup of coffee you have.
4. Avoid high sugar and processed foods
This is another one I can’t stress enough; processed foods are filled with GMO’S and usually some sort of high fructose corn syrup. Keep in mind there are tons of names for high fructose corn syrup and the food industry wants us to be confused, it is so important to not only pay attention to the nutrition label, but also to read the ingredients on your packaged food. My rule of thumb is if the list is long, if I can’t pronounce certain words or if it is not certified organic, it's not going into my body!
Crazy underrated tool in western society but meditation changed my life and it can change yours. Even if it's a simple 5 or 10 minutes in the morning when you wake up before you check your phone or before you get the day started, focusing on your breathe, expressing gratitude and aligning your body and mind for the day will exponentially increase your energy levels for the day. There are tons of apps that assist in guiding mediations or you can learn how to meditate like I did one on one with a coach.
6. Cook at home as often as possible
Unfortunately, when we go out and we think we are making the right food choices, but in reality we have no idea what kind of oils are used to cook our foods, usually cheap, low quality, or how much salt is being used in our food. If you are someone who eats out a lot, you’d be surprised how poorly it can make you feel, even if you try your best to choose healthy options. Energy levels may suffer and if you are someone trying to make any kind of serious muscle gains or weight loss, it will make it more difficult to track your macronutrients.
7. Avoid too much caffeine
Having too much caffeine can cause restlessness, insomnia, heartburn, anxiety and heart palpitations. Having your sleep schedule interrupted means your bodies recovery will be hindered (see #1) and you won’t be able to give your muscles the opportunity they need to grow and repair. Try your best to stick to the 1 or 2 cups of caffeine a day, at max.
8. Pack snacks with you
Planning ahead and bringing snacks out of the house with you for the day can save you from overeating and making poor nutrition choices. What we ingest has a HUGE impact on our energy levels throughout the day. Many times, if we start the day with a high carb or high sugar breakfast, we will most likely be craving that same sugar rush for the entire day. We know we should avoid processed foods as much as possible, so planning ahead and bringing snacks with you is key. I LOVE the GoMacro high protein peanut butter chocolate chip bar. This bar is AWESOME because it holds me over and has the right amount of protein, carbs and fats to satiate me until my next meal. This bar is also great to have if you are an evening gym-goer and need to fill that gap between lunch and dinner with a pre-workout snack. The worst thing to do is head into a workout hungry. This healthy and resourceful bar is a lifesaver and a great pre workout snack option.
9. have a meal at least 1.5 to 2 hours before your workout
In order to sustain energy during our workouts, you ideally want to be eating a complete meal, one serving of protein, one serving of a carb and one serving of a fat, about 1.5-2 hours before your workout. For many of us, our schedules don’t permit this from happening. However, if you want to prioritize your gym time and get the biggest “bang for your buck” having a real meal before your workout is your best bet. If this is not an option for you, I would suggest the GoMacro Protein Purity sunflower bar + chocolate. This bar has less fat and a bit higher carbs and protein which is ideal for pre-workout along with the PB & chocolate chip bar.
10. Pay attention to your macronutrients - not just your calories!
If you feel you are getting hungry after an hour after eating your last meal, investigate your food choices a bit. Yes, you may have went with the veggie wrap at lunch which is a great choice, however, when we don’t eat as many fats and proteins as we should we can feel ourselves getting hungrier faster because our bodies metabolize carbohydrates the fastest. Veggies are a great option but when you eat a meal, you should be thinking about ALL your macronutrients and ask yourself “where is my protein, my carb and fats? It’s important to choose sustainable whole foods. Make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet - you should be getting at least your bodyweight in grams; i.e 150 pound woman should be eating at least 140-150 grams of protein a day. Also, fats are extremely important for women to help us regulate our hormonal health. You don’t want to be avoiding or labeling foods, like carbs, as “bad.” You want a healthy spread of each. I usually recommend the 40/40/20 split for many people, your diet should be 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fats. Try to make sustainable healthy habits and think of it as a lifestyle rather than a temporary solution towards your goals.
Read more diet and fitness tips on my blog