You Can’t Out Train Your Diet, So Outsmart It
Snowballs, crawfish boils, sunset cocktails – who doesn’t love this time of year before summer heat takes hold? This spring has been a wild ride for me. I’ve been crisscrossing the country at all hours, working the NBA Playoffs for TNT and NBA TV. The struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle – and the urge to indulge when I finally get home for a break - is hard! Thanks to the savvy of several professional trainers, I’ve cobbled together a few tricks to maximize the benefits of my workouts and minimize the damage of my cravings. The reality is you can’t out-train your diet, but you can devise a game plan to cover your bases.
1. Eat smaller portions more often to keep your metabolism high:
When one is trying to lose weight or watch their waist line, it may seem counter-intuitive to eat “more.” However, if you eat several smaller meals a day, your body is constantly working to digest and use food, keeping your metabolism high ...or your engine revved. I’ve interviewed countless trainers and athletes who use this strategy to get lean. Here’s the part that trips up so many: you must eat less at each serving. Spread your meals out. I try to eat half of what I normally would when I sit down, then save the other half for two or three hours later. When I’m disciplined about doing this, I never feel hungry, but I do feel like I have a sleeker physique.
2. Eat within an hour or so of working out:
When I cheered at LSU, our trainer was emphatic about us eating within one hour of finishing our workouts. WHY? One hour post workout is the window of opportunity for your depleted muscles to recover as much as possible, if you feed your body raw protein and good carbohydrates. If you eat these nutrients, it helps your body recover faster, repairing and re-growing muscle proteins. If you can enjoy a fresh salmon steak or lean chicken breast within an hour of spinning, cross fitting, jogging, weight-lifting, etc. – game on! Like many of you, my schedule doesn’t always allow that. I will at least chug a protein shake or eat a protein bar quickly post-workout to help my muscles recover and rebuild, therefore maximizing the benefit of my labors.
3. Proper Hydration:
We’ve all heard that we should drink eight glasses of water a day – for me, thousands of times, given my line of work. While I was covering the up-and-coming Milwaukee Bucks during the recent first round of the NBA playoffs, I was drawn to a diagram on one of their walls charting WHY hydration is so important. Yes, I knew water flushes toxins and the remnants of cheat meals. I didn’t realize that just a 2% drop in the amount of water in your body can affect your muscle’s strength and ability to push itself during a workout. Basically, if you’re not properly hydrated, you can’t work out as hard as if your hydration levels are normal. Your muscles break down faster, but new muscle growth doesn’t happen as quickly as it could. You’re sacrificing efficiency, missing out on how much you should benefit from the efforts of a workout, because you’re not keeping an eye on hydration levels. Important note: you can’t rely on just feeling thirsty. Now, I use a water bottle to track exactly how much I’m drinking each day.
Jennifer Hale, Fox Sports Sideline Reporter/Women’s Health Spokesperson for Thibodaux Regional Medical Center