I love the 30 day health and fitness challenge groups I lead because 1) they inspire me every day with their hard work and enthusiasm and 2) they continue to ask incredible questions, striving to be their best. Aside from incorporating their Shakeology, working out, and supporting each other, there are so many situations one may not know how to best handle. One of my challengers asked how to balance her lower calorie diet with the intense workouts she has throughout the week.
I completely understand this concern as I too, when losing weight, workout intensely with teaching Spin, Turbo Kick, Hustle not to mention the races I do from time to time. From everything I studied, read now, and experience personally, the BEST way to tackle this concern is to look at how nutrient RICH you can make your fuel, delivering purpose behind every meal. First of all I recommend only doing 4-5 days of more intense workouts, with 1 day of rest and another day of less intense, maybe longer lasting exercise. Think 2 hours on a nice ride or long walks, versus 60 minutes of interval training. This can help the body repair, take off stress from your week, and avoid over-training. Now with the nutrient rich fuel one needs to incorporate food that is:
1) High in fiber (veggies, fruits, quinoa, fiber one bars etc)
2) High in protein, protein, protein (lean vs fatty)
3) Packed with Water (fruits, veggies, salads)
4) Packed with vitamins and minerals (think Shakeology)
5) Complex vs Simple (ezekial bread vs wonder white bread)
Now lets talk about TIMING. I notice incredible strides towards my goals when I space out my meals, listening to my hunger. If I give myself 3-4 hours between every meal, I am satisfying my hunger, stabilizing my blood sugar, and boosting my energy. I cant tell you enough how often people recommend a 150-200 calorie snack before the workout, protein dense, and a protein rich source right after. While this is hard for me, it normally helps muscle repair, cravings, and feeling deprived the next day leading towards HUNGER.
Make sure you are getting enough WATER AND SALT in addition to all the items listed above to make the food as nutrient packed as possible. One can lose 5-10 lbs of water weight amidst their workouts. Ive tried out electrolyte tablets from Hammer etc to help with the salt cravings. There are electrolyte drinks, but as long as you’re not tacking on a bunch of sugar with the electrolytes, these sources should help one replenish. Especially after long hard workouts or competitions.
Then theres this thing called SLEEP. This is absolutely the number one thing I can work on. The days I get plenty of sleep I’m not zombie-ing around, hungry, irritable, and reaching for further dehydrating caffeine. When I lack sleep, yes this is how I feel. One needs to watch out for diuretics, like caffeine, which will make you FEEL hungry when really you just need to chug a lug of agua! (water). Have you ever not gotten much sleep and felt hung over? Yup- that’s exactly how you’ll feel not to mention if you add an intense workout. Who doesn’t crave a burger and fries after a night of beer pong and “Call on Me”? Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re in college and deserve a meal you’d never have in your right frame of mind.
THE MAGIC QUESTION!? Are you overdoing it!? In order to lose weight, there simple needs to be less calories in than out. Workouts HELP this in an ideal world. If you eat 1800 and burn 600, you should be at around 1200 calories and for many people that’s 500 less than they would need to maintain their body weight, so in a week, one loses up to 1 lb a week. HOWEVER, lets say you burn 900 calories but are SO starving that you end up eating 2300 calories, giving you a total calorie count of 1400 and now you’re no longer on track to lose. This happens often and whether you’re wondering why you’re not losing weight, or just plain concerned about getting to a dangerous zone of TOO LOW OF CALORIES, exercise should help you by 1) not making you over eat or 2) not making you so low in calories that your metabolism slows down. I know its a tough issue to balance, so I would air on the side of your workouts being less intense, but still eating less vs INTENSE/HARD workouts that leave you wanting to raid the cabinet or sneak off into a fast food line. Unless you need to improve your endurance, strength or fitness for something specific, one shouldn’t be overly working out in order to eat more- this will just create disaster.
Remember exercise is here to 1) boost mood 2) relieve stress and 3) help with your health and fitness goals. If your goal is weight loss, remember to not go too low or overeat after too hard. Air on the safe level of 400-700 calories burned in an hour. Watch which workouts make you ravenous and which ones keep you feeling uplifted and energized. Heart rate monitors are here to help, encourage, not to enslave you, leaving you feeling discouraged vs empowered.
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Maria “Like the Lettuce” Romaine