If you talk to professional triathletes, they will list that the fourth leg of any triathlon is the ability to nail down your nutrition. Whether you are trying to shred a few extra pounds or trying to for that long-distance run, you have been dreaming about, how you fuel your body matters. Look at food as the fuel for your body, and if you have specific Fitness Goals for yourself, then what type of fuel you add to your tank will affect your efforts.
No diet or method will fit everyone’s needs when fueling your body because each person processes food differently. While one person may have a sensitivity to meat, another may feel their best when they make meat a large percentage of their meals. The best way to meet your food needs while still driving towards your Fitness goals is to plan your meals ahead of time and keep the guesswork and the impulse eating to a minimum.
Step 1 – Determine Your Daily Calorie Needs
Part of your meal planning is determining how many calories you need daily to meet your fitness goals. Whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain your current fitness level, or go for the gold, you need to understand how many calories are required to keep you going; this is called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Many apps like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, MyPlate, Lose It!, FatSecret, and SparkPeople will help you generate your TDEE and then provide a daily diary that you can log your food to keep you on track. These apps can even help you determine your caloric needs to meet your fitness goals.
Step 2 – Start to Develop Your Recipes
Once you have your TDEE in hand, you can start to develop your catalog of recipes that you enjoy that meet your caloric needs while keeping your full and satisfied. As you log your meals, you will find that eating less processed food with ingredients that you can read easily will keep you full longer, and you will feel less sluggish as you go about your day.
Remember that you are more likely to succeed with your fitness goals if you allow for some wiggle room in your food log. Meaning, keep your dessert menu in place, though you may need to cut down the frequency.
Step 3 – Consider Meal Prepping
Many people who have a fitness focus have discovered that if they take one day a week to do some meal prepping, they are more likely to keep their food fuel focus. When you are tired at the end of a long day, and you have meals in the fridge ready to go, it is easier to make good food choices and reach for that pre-made meal than it would be even to order delivery.
Step 4 – Make it Social
When you have something to look forward to, such as a local running race, a fitness competition, or a group exercise class, you have something fun that will keep you on track with your meal planning. If you are more of a solo fitness person, you may want to consider finding a Facebook group to chat with and share your milestones. While if you are more of a hand-on in-person type, you may wish to arrange a get-together potluck where everyone can bring their favorite meal planning recipes.
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