You’ve just stepped foot in the gym, you’re ready to thrust your body into a new state of physical excellence. You have the clothing, you have the membership, you have the mentality, now all you need is to nail your nutrition. Here are our five biggest keys for all beginners.
1. Too Much Too Soon
Probably the biggest misconception amongst new lifters is the need to shovel vast amounts of food down to fuel this newfound passion for exercise. Bodybuilding and gym culture is awash with many athletes posting videos of 5000+ calorie intakes a day, but for the average gym newbie, this is completely unnecessary and will lead to issues, namely chronic gastric distress and rapid weight gain. Do not mistake your uptick in weight for muscle gain. Whilst weight gain can be an indicator of increased muscle mass, do not discount the fact that a majority of this, if you have chronically overeaten will be huge fluid retention and fat. Eat for your activity levels and progress incrementally, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
2. The Exercise/Reward Scheme
When we get that training session done there’s no better feeling. In an ideal world, we would follow this up with a solid piece of post-workout nutrition and adequate rest. The reality for many is quite the opposite, unfortunately. We are ingrained in a culture of doing one good thing and being rewarded for it, like handing your loyal dog a biscuit after it catches the frisbee. As beginners, seeing tangible results is a key step in ensuring that your enthusiasm for exercise is for the long term. With that in mind, use your food intake as a means towards a result, not a ‘reward’ that is for short term pleasure but ruining your effort in your training.
3. ALL IN!
Being keen to get in shape is brilliant, there are few things that will improve your quality of life than getting your health on track. It is important though that the steps you take to do so are sustainable. A twice-a-day training program 7 days a week whilst consuming an immense number of calories is not a long-term plan and you will burn out and lose motivation. Use your new-found energy for three or four intense sessions a week, with the remaining time to focus on proper nutritional intake and time to rest.
4. Emulating the Pro’s
Idolizing elite athletes is not unusual; in fact, many beginners get their drive from wanting to be just like the ones they watch week in week out. As previous, incremental steps are so important, and diving straight into the programming of an elite athlete is a sure-fire way to dissuade beginners from keeping the focus on their goals. Pros are pros for a reason, they make a living off what they do and have huge teams behind them dedicated to keeping them running like clockwork. Most beginners don’t have that luxury and require a more tempered approach. By all means, use your favorite athletes for inspiration, but take a step back when it comes to diving into their training and eating protocols, they aren’t designed for the beginner.
5. Cutting Out Too Much
One of the very first things that go along with a beginners new training endeavor is the removal of several foodstuffs from their daily diet. For the most part, this can carry great benefit, but it is knowing what to remove is key. Severe caloric restriction, whilst it will likely stoke weight loss is a bad option for beginners as it can lead to metabolic downregulation, low energy, and poor sleep quality. Keep a healthy balance between the macronutrient groups, don’t remove huge chunks of your intake for the sake of a quick result, it will lead to unsustainable gains in both the development of your mental and physical health.