Going to the gym is only effective if you adjust your diet plan. Once people step inside the gym, all they worry about are exercising machines, weight sets, and the number of reps they do at every exercise.
While all these things are important, it’s insufficient unless you follow a balanced diet plan for your first month in the gym. In this article, we will discuss the perfect diet plan for beginners.
Establish What to Eat
You want to improve your fitness, so it shouldn’t surprise you that you must start eating healthy! What is healthy food, you ask? Well, it’s food that comes as close to its natural state as possible. It means no processed food, food flavoured with dozens of additives, and heavens forbid, Pizza.
You are giving your time, effort, blood, and sweat at the gym, so giving up all that effort for a midnight craving doesn’t make sense. If you really want to excel, start reimagining food in terms of how many macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fat) it provides.
Keep track of the nutrients you get from these foods. Consider maximizing your protein intake from sources such as whole eggs (and egg whites); chicken breasts; fish, lean cuts of mutton or beef, and if necessary, protein powder.
At the same time, consider including carbohydrates in your diet since they are also essential for sustainable growth. Try eating rice (brown or white), sweet potatoes, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and oats.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to add fat to your diet. Fat doesn’t add to your weight gain, so don’t try to avoid it just because you need unsaturated fat (good trans-fat). This type of fat is present in milk and dairy-based foods, but you can also gain it from nut butters, seeds, nuts, avocados, and small doses of olive or coconut oil.
Keep Track of Calories
Remember to keep track of macronutrients and calories. Being consistent is more important than being meticulous. To maximise strength and gain muscle, consider taking 31–40 calories for each kilogram of your body weight. If you want to lose fat, consume 22–27 calories per kilogram of your weight.
Experiment with what works for you between these ranges through trial. Start from the lower range (31 calories/kg) for muscle gain. For fat loss, begin with the higher range (27 calories/kg).
Whether you want to gain or lose, protein or fat intake should ideally remain the same. Consume 0.88 grams of fat for every kilogram of your weight. Likewise, 2.2–3.3 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight.
Unsurprisingly, carbohydrates have the biggest impact on body weight. These micronutrients can change the insulin level in your body, which is a hormone responsible for causing fat or muscle gain. Carbohydrates have different effects based on when you eat them and what you eat them with. So your carb preferences will change according to what you want to achieve.
For someone who wants to gain weight, 4.4 grams of carbs per kilogram of weight is sufficient. With that said, don’t be surprised if carbohydrates help you gain fat alongside muscles since carbs directly contribute to higher insulin levels and greater fat storage. In contrast, people who want to lose fat should consume 2.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram.
Plan What to Eat Before Workouts
What you eat before a workout totally depends on when you exercise. If you go to the gym first thing in the morning, have nothing but water. You can also drink black coffee if your goal is to lose weight since it can help you burn more fat in the session.
Your body relies on what you last ate for dinner during early morning workouts. It flushes stored carbs and components of proteins such as amino acids to fuel the energy for the exercise. Beware, consuming carbohydrates before a workout only can limit the amount of fat burned in a session.
In contrast, if you are exercising in the evening or afternoon, consider eating carbs and protein at least an hour before you begin exercising. Eating then will provide you fuel for exercise. Fifty grams of carbohydrates and 25 grams of protein is enough to keep you going.
Plan What to Eat After Workouts
According to a European Journal of Applied Physiology study conducted in 2000, giving male subjects a mix of carbs, amino acids, or a placebo after weight training helped them gain more mass. The solution contained 6 grams of amino acids, a 6% carb solution, and a combination of both.
Researchers hypothesised that subjects who drank the solution minimised muscle protein breakdown after training. There is still debate regarding the exact amount of carbs and proteins. However, research proved that consuming it is better for muscle gain.
You can try drinking protein shakes with a 1-to-2 ratio of protein to carbs after workouts. Doing so will supplement essential post-workout nutrients. Since shakes are easily digestible, they can instantly provide your body with key nutrients.
With that said, if you want to save money, you can always eat whole food. Eating one or two pieces of fruit can give you enough carbs that muscles don’t break down after your session. Consider pairing fruit with a lean serving of protein such as fish if you can.
Can You Cheat Your Diet?
Well, experts agree that a healthy eating plan requires some leniency. You are allowed to have one cheat meal every week to keep you motivated for the long run.
Sample Daily Diet for the First Month in the Gym
- Eight oz. black coffee
- Three scrambled eggs
- 2 cups unsweetened, cooked oatmeal flavoured with cinnamon
- 3 oz. grilled salmon
- Large raw salad with 2 tbsp. olive oil and vinegar
- 2 cups baked or sweet potato
- Meal-replacement shake containing 25g carbs, 50g protein, 5g fat
- 25g whey protein
- One banana
- 6 oz. baked chicken breast
- 3 cups cooked jasmine rice or potato
- 1 cup steamed broccoli
- Make a pudding with 2 tbsp. almond butter containing a single scoop of chocolate casein powder and water