There is no limit to what you can do – and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Whether you want to climb the career ladder, or become a bodybuilder at the top of your game, you can do it – you’ve just got to set your mind to it. Provided that you focus on bettering yourself purely for the aims of feeling better and healthier in yourself – rather than for becoming as thin as you possibly can – with a dedicated eating plan designed to help you become leaner and stronger, and a dedicated fitness plan designed to help you build muscle, you’ll soon become lean, healthy and fitter than you’ve ever been
Why do I need to change my diet?
In order for anyone to build muscle mass, there has to be a holistic combination of diet and exercise. Weight training alone, for example, won’t build a lot of lean muscle. You need to feed your muscles so that they can keep training. And vice versa – dieting alone won’t automatically give you gorgeously sculpted abs. You need to find the right combination of both, for you, that gives you the weight loss and the look that you want. It differs from person to person. Some people need about 20% exercise and weight training to diet, whilst others can get away with eating far less strictly provided that they’re in the gym for an hour every day. It’s important to find the balance for you – provided that you take in the right nutrients and vitamins for your muscles.
After workouts, you’re going to be starving. Often, we have this mindset that because we’ve been to the gym – and I’m guilty of this too – that we can have a little bit of something “extra”. Because we deserve it, right? Well, whilst that might be true, it’s not going to do you any favors. You won’t get leaner, you won’t build any additional muscle, and you may even gain weight if you take in more calories than you burn off.
What should I be eating?
Fad diets have scared a lot of women off of eating a lot of food, in particular, carbohydrates. But carbohydrates – the good kind, the complex kind and the kind that you find in vegetables will all give you a long-term energy boost and will all help you to get through a workout with ease. Foods like sweet potato, coarsely ground porridge oats and carrots are all excellent sources of carbohydrate. Remember, if you’re trying to build muscle, you might end up weighting more on the scale but looking a lot slimmer, so try to ignore all of that buzz in your head about “eating too many carbs” or how you shouldn’t eat protein. You’re eating to fuel your body. Stop when you’re full, and make sure you drink a lot of water. Little and often is key.
In general, women tend to eat less than 1/2 a gram of protein per pound of her body weight per day. Women who are bodybuilders, on the other hand, take in between 1.5 and 2 grams of protein per pound of her body weight per day, which ends up equating to approximately 40% of each meal. Good protein sources include eggs, lean meats such as chicken, tuna, pork tenderloin, steak, lean ground beef, shrimp and fish, plus low fat dairy such as ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and plain unflavored yogurt – that’s right, low fat dairy contains a good amount of protein, too.
We’ve already spoken about carbohydrates, but you need to include fresh fruit and veg in a variety of colors on your plate, too – that way, you get the maximum amount of nutrients. Here’s a tip, in case you didn’t know – each color in fruit and veg typically represents a different vitamin or nutrient. You also need natural healthy fats, too, ideally found in your food – such as from nuts and fish. You can also add these from extra virgin olive oils used as salad dressings, as these will boost hormone production and vitamin absorption. Keep in mind that men often build muscle more easily than women because they have more testosterone, so we have to do everything that we can to help us out in terms of hormone production! These healthy fats will also keep your skin and hair glowing and silky soft, which is a bonus!
Don’t forget – if you’re exercising a lot, you need a lot of water. You need to stay hydrated in order to repair muscles and flush out toxins. If you don’t drink during a heavy workout session, there’s a very real chance that you’ll fall flat out on the floor. Another point: a lot of us aren’t able to distinguish between feeling thirsty and feeling hungry, so always take a drink before you get a meal, just in case you aren’t sure.
If you start eating a new food and experience a reaction, or if you’ve been told that you should be under the supervision of a doctor when exercising or on a new eating plan, see your doctor.