I think most people can agree that it can be challenging to figure out the “right” things to eat. Especially when you’re also exercising. There’s so much conflicting info out there that it can be overwhelming to sort through the junk. One thing’s for sure—if you’re trying to be stronger and healthier, your eating habits are extremely important. Let’s talk about a few common diet mistakes you might be making, and how to avoid them.
1. You’re not eating enough
Yup, that’s definitely a thing. When you’re working out, you need fuel to keep pushing your body to new limits. If you recently started ramping up your workouts, you need to up your calorie intake. If you don’t have enough fuel in your body to get you through a workout, your body will start to pull reserve energy from your muscles. You’ll fatigue faster and deteriorate your muscles—which is the opposite of what you want!
2. You’re considering calories over macros
2,000 calories worth of cookies is not the same as 2,000 calories of vegetables. However, neither extreme is a great option. Your macros-proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are all important to your diet and you need to ensure that you’re getting enough of each.
3. You think your cheat day is free for all
Lots of people allow themselves to have a cheat day. But a cheat day doesn’t mean you should eat until you can’t physically eat anymore. By all means, enjoy a drink or two or take a little extra dessert. Just make sure you’re still aware of what you’re putting in your body. Many people follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, make healthy food choices. The other 20 percent, feel free to have some pizza and beers with your friends. Even on these days, it’s easy to find healthier options – maybe a light carb beer or a wholemeal pizza base even on cheat day.
4. You’re restricting your diet too much
It’s extremely hard to maintain healthy eating habits for an extended period of time without ever indulging. Depriving yourself of your favorite foods can lead to extreme binging in the long run. Not saying you need to throw down donuts and milkshakes on the regular, but let yourself have a couple pieces of dark chocolate after dinner a few nights a week. Treat yourself every once in a while!
5. You’re binging after a workout
You just finished a calorie-blasting workout. Yes, you need to refuel. But you don’t need to eat the entire contents of your fridge. It’s easy to think you can eat extra on workout days. And in some ways, it’s true. You do need to eat more on your workout days. However, it’s a slippery slope when you start allowing yourself to eat freely. Keep track of how much extra you actually need on gym days.
Most importantly, don’t view your nutrition choices as a “diet.” Sorry for being cliché, but it’s true what they say—it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. If you view your eating habits as a diet, you’re going to have a hard time sustaining it. You don’t have to be perfect, but establishing a healthy relationship with food is one of the best things you can do for your body.