As a trainer, a coach, and simply an Exercise Science student, I am often asked questions, and they are the same for most people. So, I am making a good post to answer the most common questions all at once!
What should I be doing for my pre and post workout? Should I invest in those powders? If so, what kind?
In general, I don’t promote any special brands nor kinds of pre/post workouts. Why? I don’t use any myself, unless I am just really dragging one day. Otherwise, you can do really well just by eating carbs or even having a good ole cup of Joe. By having carbs, caffeine, or a small amount of sugar 30-90 minutes before you workout should do well enough to get you going. I do not recommend eating very heavy things, or a whole meal. I personally find it easy to upset my stomach. If you want to eat a big meal, I’d suggest maybe 2 hours before working to try and digest a good bit before you go bouncing and sweating. A good example of something to have for a pre workout would be a small pb&j with natural jelly and peanut butter, on 1 piece of whole wheat bread folded in half (to make a half sandwich), or even just simply eating a banana or two. Nothing fancy, no spending more money on unnecessary powders or drinks. As for post workout, be sure to consume carbs, protein, and you can also have some sugar as your body will use the sugars well right after you workout and/or when you first wake up. For post workout, I used to do shakes, but honestly, I am not huge on shakes as it is. If you are, go for it. You don’t have to spend tons on them though. Go to amazon and find a flavor that sounds good, look at reviews, and order. No need to spend $100’s of your hard earned money on such, though. You can simply get your post workout refuel from foods. Yes, I said it. You can. Don’t buy into the gimmicks that you require protein shakes. If you want, you can just have a meal of lean meat or leafy greens for protein (or even the popular peanut butter), have carbs such as a plain baked potato (rice cake with the peanut butter), and vegetables/fruits. Easy as that.
I just started working out, do I need to have different days for different muscle groups like I see everyone doing on IG (leg day, chest day, etc)?
No. If you just started there is no need to go hardcore like a bodybuilder. You can do full body workouts and worry about form first before you actually add resistance/weight. Make sure you can do your bodyweight first. For example, if you can not knock out multiple push ups (full on push ups, not on the knees, chest all the way down), you should NOT be worrying about bench pressing. If you don’t have the balance and control to do a squat that keeps your chest up and bending from your hips before you bend the knees, don’t add a bar on your shoulders until you can. If you almost fall every time you lunge, work on balance first (hold one leg up, keep balance for 60 seconds, switch legs, then add an unstable surface to do it on, then try with eyes closed) before you do weighted walking lunges or Bulgarian squats. You could also just split it up where you do upper body one day (arms, shoulders, back, chest, abs) one day and then do lower body the next (glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings). You should be seriously working out and more advanced to be splitting the muscle groups into their own special days. You should know your way around the gym and be lifting decently heavy. Otherwise, it really isn’t necessary.
Do I need to really carry around a gallon jug of water everyday? Is a gallon a day really necessary?
For the average person, no. Unless you are sweating a lot or really are trying to lose serious weight, no that much isn’t necessary. Be sure on days you do workout (especially cardio/outside/humid weather) you do need to be consuming more water than on days you aren’t as active. You should hydrate before, during, and after your workouts. And even if you do choose to drink a gallon a day, find a refillable water bottle you like and can carry around and figure out how many refills it would take for you to get to a gallon/or whatever your goal for the day is. I personally buy the 1.5L bottles of Smart Water and refill it anywhere from 2-4 times a day. Get a water filter on your kitchen sink if possible and you are good to go. No need for carrying the gallon jug all over the place. They are a bit big and bulky. And keep water bottles in reach (car, backpack, bag, desk, workplace, locker, etc) so you never have an excuse. That’s why I suggest getting a cheap bottle and size you like, I pay at most $3.00 for the Smart Water and just refill the bottle several times. I can pay for 4 of those at a time and have 4 bottles to place in areas so I have no excuse to not be hydrating.
I am doing the shake/juice/cleanse/ridiculous diet. What is your opinion?
These fad diets are ridiculous. The week long cleanses? Please, conduct even your own research on them. You do not have any reason to be cleansing for so many days in a row, and so often. If you need to cleanse after eating horrid food for a long time, simply eat RAW fruits and vegetables for a day. That’s it, guys. Cleanses are a scam. How can you even be cleansing really if those juices are just stripping the fibers and good stuff from the produce anyways? Cleansing should be making you to excrete the unwanted things from your body, without fiber, that doesn’t really happen. Eat a giant leafy salad with a drizzle of oil. Eat baby carrots as snack. Eat apples and bananas. Eat a bag of broccoli. It’s really not hard, expensive, nor needed to do for multiple days at a time. And don’t think you need to cleanse twice a month. As for the shake diets (Beachbody, SlimFast, blah blah), I am not an advocate for only consuming a shake in which has loads of sugar, hardly any nutritional value, for most meals of your day. Please tell me how a blended, sugar loaded drink can be better for you and make you lose more weight than simply eating fruits and vegetables. You can’t. There is no justification there. Besides the companies making you spend money. Most people won’t even last on the diets anyways. Why? Your body wants to chew food. It wants SOLID FOOD. A shake is just that-a shake. Juices are just that-juice. Your teeth are made for you to chew and consume solid food. It’s what your body is made to consume and use for fuel. Please give it that. Having a shake maybe for breakfast along with some fruit/eggs/etc would be more likely what I would suggest you do with them. Otherwise, you won’t stay full nor satisfied for long.
Is low carb the only way I can lose weight? I see it everywhere!
NO! NO! NO! Let me say it again: NO!. Why do carbs get a bad rap? Because most people are consuming terrible, refined, and fat loaded carbs rather than the carbs you need. EVERYTHING HAS CARBS. I bet those diets forgot to mention that fruit has natural sugars, it has carbs. Vegetables? Yup, they have carbs. Everything but water has carbs. And guess what? Carbs are literally what make your body run. Even your BRAIN uses carbs to work. Your body requires carbs to function and work. So how does it make any sense to be telling you carbs are the enemy? Instead, they should be telling you that the processed junk is what’s actually bad for you. If it says ‘low-carb’ it means it’s HIGHLY processed and terrible for you. I doubt it has much of anything your body can actually use. Think about that as you go down the aisle with all of the Atkins products.
I don’t know where I am messing up. I eat granola bars, flat bread, low fat foods, salads, organic stuff, drinking juice/diet drinks, and work out. What am I doing wrong?
In general, the magazines, TV, and internet promote ‘healthy’ foods for you to have, even though they are the opposite. Granola is not actually the healthiest thing in the world. That quaker man is lying to you. Look at it. See that sugar content? How about the nutritional values: the carbs/protein/fats are close to those of a candy bar. Think about that. Low fat foods are a chemical shit storm. Stay away. Unless you are getting sprouted/whole grain/unrefined bread (read: NOT WHITE) then you aren’t really being healthy. White breads/tortillas/rice have been stripped of all nutrients. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat, sprouted, and flax versions to get nutritious values your body can actually use. For salads, I see this too often. Yes, you are eating vegetables, but it looked like you were having vegetables with your ranch rather than the other way around. Dressings are what get you. If you are drowning your veggies in ranch/honey mustard/1000 island, you are loading up on unwanted fats and sugars. No bueno, guys. Instead, opt for oil based dressings, or simply squeeze a lemon or orange. I even use salsa to change things up. If you are drinking regular orange/apple/grape juice, you are consuming your days worth of sugar pretty much. Unless you can find no added sugar versions, you need to stick with making your own if possible. Pain in the butt, but worth it. For diet drinks: the sugar alternatives have been shown in studies to do so much damage to you. One of the main things that could be damaging your diet is the fact that these ‘0 calories’ sweeteners are actually causing you to crave more junk food, causing you to mindlessly go butcher your eating habits. They have also been shown to aid belly fat, cause migraines, and bloat you. Simply steer clear of these. Stevia is a great alternative, but there’s a catch even with it, unless you are getting Stevia and read the ingredient list and it ONLY has Stevia listed, you are still getting fooled. Even the ‘Stevia in the Raw’ packets are not pure stevia, they are usually mixed with dextrose and other fillers. Stevia can be found in a pure form usually as a liquid you can use a dropper to add to baking/drinks/whatever you want. It is an acquired taste, but once you slowly start using it (I started by adding it into my teas/coffees) you won’t miss regular sugar.
I have tried eating 100% ‘clean diet’ but I always end up eating like I did before. I saw someone say that that was the only way to actually becoming fit/thin/healthy. Is this true?
Nope. Unless you have SERIOUS dedication, you won’t stick to it. Especially if you live with/date/hang out with/work with/go to school with people who don’t eat that way, it’s hard. It literally puts a mental toll on you. You get seriously obsessive with ingredient lists, never wanting to eat other people’s cooking, never eating out, and simply just getting into a dark place. It’s a great idea and on paper, but to stick to something so serious is just bad. Plus if you do eat that way, when you do ‘treat’ yourself, you’ll get insanely sick. Balance. It’s all you need to find in life. If you can eat 80% whole, healthy, ‘clean’ foods, and then just 20% of the other stuff you like (donuts, alfredo, mac and cheese are some of my own faves lol), you’re doing really good. That’s why I have fallen in love with and have continued the Macro counting thing for nearly a year so far. I still eat things I love with my boyfriend/family/friends, but for the most part on a day to day basis, I am eating tuna, chicken, salads, raw veggies, etc. Even many body competitors are changing from the clean diet of eating chicken and brown rice only to following the flexible/IIFYM diets. It’s not hard, plus if you want to put on muscle, you really need to be eating to fuel the muscles otherwise, when you workout (read:cardio) you might dip into your muscles to burn for fuel for it. Not good.
I don’t want to look like the Hulk. Do I still need to be having protein? And lifting weights like the guys? I just want to ‘tone up/slim down’.
Unless you are currently or plan to take steroids, you won’t look like a man. Women naturally only have a super tiny amount of testosterone. We are full of estrogen instead. Men are the opposite, they are stock full of testosterone, making them getting huge and bulky more quickly and a bit easier than women can possible. Look it up for yourself if you are wondering. The facts are out there, guys. Lifting weights helps you actually burn more calories. Did you know that? 1 pound of muscle you add will burn 50 more calories a day just at rest than if it was 1 pound of fat. Put on 10 pounds of muscle, you burn 500 more calories in a day (at rest), so 500 X 7 (days in a week)= 3500 extra calories burned in a week alone (that’s not including your workouts). Guess what? 3500 calories is equal to a pound. You would lose a pound a week. Simple math. So lift the weights, girls. And as for protein, protein is actually already in you. It’s in and needed to sustain every single living cell. It is one of the amino acids that you need to recover and build muscles properly. Even if you don’t workout much, the body still needs protein. If you workout and lift to gain muscle, then you need to increase your intake to maintain. Simple.
If you have any questions that aren’t listed here, don’t hesitate to contact me!