Want to get shape, define curve, grow a peachy booty? Well the trick is in more than the workouts you choose, but the food you eat too….
Paying attention to the amount of protein eaten, and brown rice consumed has never really been something I had deemed worthy of note. To me all healthy food is good food? Well not exactly. Well it isn’t when you are trying to grow a bit of a Beyonce booty.
Over the last few months (well pre-christmas) I did the 30-day squat challenge in an attempt to get stronger legs and bum. Alongside it, I upped my intake of protein and healthy carbs pre-exercise. Low and behold my bottom grew (in a good way) and my bamboo legs finally had more definition and shape. It was amazing to see just how much of a difference a slight change in the food I ate around exercise could make.
The first and most important tip I discovered was that although it can be tempting to skip food exercise (especially in the morning), eating before a workout is important. Fuel yourself correctly and you will workout harder, eat the right food after and you will undoubtedly improve your muscle tone. Have a look below to see what to eat and when for best results…
Pre-workout you can eat what you want
Doing a class, going to the gym, or sweating for an hour is a massive sacrifice already, so whatever you eat should be jolly well worth it. Ideally it is best to opt for protein and healthy, slower-release carbs, but if you fancy a square or two of dairy milk, now is the best time to slide a little and use that quick, fast release energy. A bit of slow and fast release will see you through the session. So long as you don’t go overboard and indulge, you can enjoy whatever you want. So grab a nibble of choice and wave your arms in the air, like you just don’t care… chocoholics I am with you.
Should I carb load?
Carbohydrates play a crucial role post-workout, to restore the glucose stores that fuel the muscles. So despite what you might think, that the best option is purely protein, eating complex carbs post-workout is recommended. Knowing how they effect the body is key to using them properly. The trick is to choose slower-release, unrefined carbs, like brown rice, whole grains and oats. These refuel your energy stores, but break down slower in the body and prevent the blood sugar rollercoaster. Try this warm rice salad with roasted carrots and pecans for a quick, healthy option.
A bit of fat is a-ok
Munching on fat is nothing to fear, so long as it is the right sort. You don’t want to be befriending the deep fryer on the regular, rather a nearby coconut tree (or market) whichever is more handy. Fat not only improves taste of food… (yes hello butter, I love you) but it is also the second store of energy the body turns to after once it has burned through its carbs. Of course moderation, as with everything is key, but a dollop of coconut oil, or good quality grass fed butter in an nut-based (high protein) smoothie is certainly a good option. However, for those that are trying to lower the fat quantity in your diet, alternate ways to excite your taste buds include dosing up your dishes with fragrant spices, condiments and herbs. A dash of cinnamon in smoothies, a shake of smoked paprika on chicken or a handful of fresh parsley with baked fish. All a good option so you don’t miss out on that all important flavour.
Get your protein in
As long as you’re getting enough protein from healthy sources like beans, eggs and chicken, also a little red meat, when required, you needn’t worry about protein shakes. Of course, if your focus is on building Schwarzenegger muscle or sculpting a set of cheese grater abs, shakes help pile on the protein immediately, but to maintain or sculpt shape its not needed. Just be sure to incorporate a good amount of protein in some form into your post workout meal. Being a red meat lover, my favourite is this quick and easy steared steak with herbs and chilli for a post-exercise refuel. It is this time post workout that you need protein the most for recovery
Ditch the sports drinks
Sugar laden, chemically sports drinks can be helpful for strenuous workouts (in my mind only the marathon is an excuse enough to drink one) True they replenish the precious electrolytes you lose in the process, but the sugar content in most is high and certainly not needed for the average gym session. Swap instead to water with the juice of half a lemon, which is the most hydrating, or fresh coconut water if you need the electrolytes.
Do all of this and you will not only get the results you are after… you will also feel pretty darn good about it. So give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy all your hard work!