I am often asked the question, “Is strength training enough to change your body?” That is actually not a dumb question. It is probably the most overlooked factor that I see when it comes to wanting to see results. You could work out with kettlebells, dumbbells, do Crossfit, or P90X. The truth of the matter is without changing your diet, you will not get real, noticeable results. Sure, you will get stronger. Sure, you might be able to go longer with endurance. However, to put on muscle and lean out, you need to pay a lot of attention to what goes into your mouth, and when.
Most women think you have to eat less to see results. Wrong. Most men think that you just have to eat more to put on muscle… again, wrong. Actually cutting calories at the wrong time, or adding in too many are exactly what will sabotage our goals in the gym.
I train a lot of women that think since they are finally working out in a gym, with a trainer, that the weight will just “fall” off! Nope. I consult men in our gym as well that don’t understand why they can’t put on muscle, or drop any fat. Here are a few factors that will tell you exactly why strength training alone is not enough to change your body.
Most fitness coaches, trainers and gym owners know that the equation is about 75% diet, 25% hard work. Some even say 80/20. Of course, genes, age, sex, intensity, frequency, load, and overall dedication play big roles in what our body looks and feels like. Don’t ever be fooled by anything other than one fact. What you eat like is the single most defining factor in what you look like, and how you train.
Food is fuel. Food is where energy is found, muscle is built, and cells repaired. Besides hydration, without the proper fuel, our body will wither away and never get close to building bigger muscles or tight curves. Our dietary plan will either tire us out, or energize us. It can help us put on mass, or burn through our precious muscle tissue if we don’t feed it enough protein.
Phytochemicals are found in greens and keep our immune systems functioning like a machine during cold and flu season. Protein is what rebuilds and repairs our muscles that we have torn down in the gym. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred source of energy, a greatly needed source of fuel for the power lifter, the Olympic lifter, and the Kettlebell Sport enthusiast. Healthy fats are necessary for hormone production, lubrication, body temperature regulation and energy in endurance type sports as Crossfit and obstacle course style races. All food groups are needed. All have their respective roles in building our bodies before and after we tear them down in the gym.
The bottom line is this. Strength training is NOT enough to change your body. What will change your body, your energy levels and your physical outcome is your nutrition plan. I use the word “plan” very seriously. Plan on what to eat and when. Make sure you are getting enough calories from the right sources to fuel your body in the gym. Besides rest, your eating plan is probably more important than the actual workout when it comes to gaining muscle, and/or losing fat.
Eat for what you will be doing next. If you have a big workout planned, eat for that. Sitting on the couch watching TV? Eat for that. Most people in the fitness industry pack lunches, and have a fridge stocked with foods geared towards keeping the body strong and energized. Keep food that will nourish your body and mind on hand at all times, and junk foods far from reach. Eat often, and don’t skip meals. These few tips will make those workouts in the gym start to show results.
After all, isn’t that why we work out?