Exercising is the best way to get your body into shape, and you might think that the hard work is done once you work out. But exercise and food go hand in hand. The food you eat can significantly impact how effective your workout is.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that physical activity or healthy food choices alone are no good when preventing chronic diseases and leading a healthy life. The test was conducted on 13,869 participants. During a median follow-up of over 11 years, it was concluded that both exercise and diet are essential to ensure you lead a healthy life.
But what food is the best to have when working out? This article will answer that question and the benefits of following specific diets when working out. So here are the top 5 diets to complement your workout.
The Mediterranean Diet
If you are following a Mediterranean diet, you will be consuming foods like:
- Vegetables, fruits and lentils
- Beans and nuts
- Whole grains
- Dairy products like cheese and yogurt
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Choosing poultry over meat
- Little or no sweet
Studies reveal that the primary benefits of the Mediterranean diet come from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. According to a study published on the NCBI website, this diet is effective in helping control waist circumference and obesity.
How does this diet complement working out? It provides the necessary nutrients for exercising while supporting quick muscle recovery. For example, the high protein content in fish and poultry can help repair and build muscle tissue after a workout. At the same time, the healthy fats and carbohydrates in whole grains and fruits can provide sustained energy for more extended activities.
As mentioned above, the Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress caused by exercise, potentially reducing the risk of injury and improving recovery time.
Intermittent fasting, as the name implies, is not exactly a diet but an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating regularly. But is it right to exercise when intermittent fasting? Fasting will limit your energy, but energy is vital for workouts.
The answer can be complicated, but cutting the long answer short, you can work out during intermittent fasting. However, the exercise you choose and the strain you put on your body ultimately change:
- You must match your workout intensity with your food intake.
- You must drink enough water and replenish your electrolytes.
- You must listen to your body.
Since exercising while fasting can have different effects, it is best to do some additional research about how intermittent fasting and working out go together.
Moreover, how intermittent fasting helps with workouts and its results depend on your chosen intermittent fasting plan. For instance, what exercise you do before, during and after your eating window will change.
According to Simple, an online blog for nutrition, intermittent fasting and weight loss education, you should do short, low-intensity workouts before the eating window. You can do high-intensity cardio, strength training and long workouts during the eating window.
Intermittent fasting can complement a workout routine in several ways:
- It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which can lead to more significant fat loss and improved muscle growth.
- HGH levels naturally increase during periods of fasting, which can help improve muscle growth and recovery after a workout.
- It can reduce inflammation within the body, which can help improve overall health and recovery.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that involves consuming a high amount of natural and healthy fats. When you reduce the carbs intake and replace them with fats, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis, hence the name.
In this state, your body uses fats (ketones) to generate energy instead of glucose. Here are some ways in which the ketogenic diet complements a workout:
- Improved energy levels: When your body is in ketosis, it has a more stable energy supply. Unlike glucose from carbohydrates, ketones provide steady energy without spikes and crashes.
- Enhanced fat loss: The ketogenic diet can help weight loss by increasing the body’s fat-burning capacity. Burning stored fat is easier when your body is n the ketosis state.
- Muscle preservation: Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle maintenance and growth.
The Flexitarian Diet
Created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, the flexitarian diet refers to letting people enjoy the benefits of a vegetarian diet while enjoying some meat. That is why this diet is called flexitarian. It is less like a dietary plan and more like a lifestyle, as there are no complex rules to be bound by.
If you are following a flexitarian diet, here are some basic rules you must follow:
- Focus on plants and not meat for protein.
- Introduce meat and animal products flexibly in your diet from time to time.
- Limit sugar and sweets intake.
- Make fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains the most significant part of your diet.
Plant-based foods are often rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which can support muscle growth and repair. Additionally, incorporating plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh and legumes can help to meet protein needs without relying solely on meat and animal products.
The Paleo Diet
A paleo diet is a dietary approach that focuses on food habits of the Paleolithic era. In this diet, you will consume whole foods, including lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and eliminate processed foods, dairy, grains, legumes and refined sugar. There are also some paleo diet recipes that can make following this plan fun.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts often favor the paleo diet because it provides high protein and healthy fats, aiding muscle recovery and growth.
The paleo diet can help improve athletic performance by providing the necessary nutrients to support muscle growth and recovery. Moreover, the paleo diet can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health. This is crucial for athletes to avoid injuries and illness.
Working out alone is never enough for long-lasting results. You may see changes in your body, but if you want the health benefits, you must complement your exercise regime with a healthy diet. You can always do some additional research about a particular diet before making the final decision.