Fueling Your Fitness Journey: A Diet Guide For Gym Beginners

Eat these healthy foods to maximise your gains and make them sustain.

Published On Nov 28, 2023 | Updated On Feb 27, 2024

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Practice mindful dieting alongside your fitness regimen to optimise the output of your workouts.

So, you've taken the first step on your fitness journey and joined the gym. Congratulations! As a gym beginner, it's essential to understand that exercise and diet go hand in hand. What you eat can significantly impact your workout performance, recovery, and overall fitness goals. To help you get started on the right track, we've put together a few diet-related tips for gym beginners.

As one of the most important macronutrients, protein is the building block of muscle, and if you're hitting the gym, you'll want to ensure you're getting an adequate amount. Include lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, eggs, dairy, legumes, and plant-based options like tofu and tempeh in your diet. Protein supports muscle growth and repair, making it an essential component of your gym nutrition. When you break your muscles in the gym, eating sufficient protein helps to rebuild them stronger and bigger. 

Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy. While low-carb diets have gained popularity, it's important for gym beginners to have enough carbs in their diet to fuel workouts. Opt for complex carbohydrates from sources like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. They release energy slowly, keeping you energised throughout your training sessions. Ensure you are getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates without overdoing them. 

As much as the media likes to frighten us, all fats are not bad! In fact, healthy fats are crucial for overall health and well-being. Monounsaturated fats include sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish and should be a part of your diet. These fats also support nutrient absorption, joint health, and hormone production. Avoid saturated fats like those found in palm oil, ice cream, and popcorn. So, don't shy away from fats; just choose the healthy ones.

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It is often believed, especially in India, that you should not consume anything before exercising. While this belief is not wrong, it is also not entirely accurate. Eating a balanced meal or snack about 1-2 hours before your workout is vital. This provides your body with the energy it needs to perform at its best. Therefore, while you should not eat anything just before working out, you should have something healthy a few hours before. Opt for a combination of carbohydrates and protein to ensure sustained energy and muscle support. For example, a banana with peanut butter or an egg and avocado sandwich.

5. Plan your post-workout meals

Isn’t it a delight? Eating a snack after an intense workout. However, it is crucial to be mindful of what you eat after your exercise. This is because, after your workout, your body is in a prime state for recovery. Consume a meal or snack that combines protein and carbohydrates to aid muscle repair and replenish glycogen stores. A protein shake, yoghurt with fruit, or a balanced meal with lean protein sources are all excellent choices.

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One of the biggest problems with gym-goers is overeating. You believe that because you are exerting more, you should also consume more, which leads to harmful binge-eating. However, overeating, even healthy foods, can hinder your fitness progress. Pay attention to portion sizes and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Using smaller plates can also help with portion control and prevent overindulgence. 

Water is the elixir of life. On an average, an individual, frequenting the gym or not, should drink about 3-4 litres of water a day. This number is even higher for regular fitness enthusiasts. Proper hydration is vital for optimal exercise performance and overall health. So remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you don’t, the following dehydration can lead to reduced energy, muscle cramps, and provide poor workout results.

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