Correcting the most common food and exercise mistakes

Whether you earn your living working up a sweat, or squeeze in workouts when you can, it’s easy to fall into eating errors that unintentionally hold you back from getting the most out of your workouts.

Mistake #1: Over emphasizing cardio and not considering strength training for weight loss.

I commonly tell clients who are doing cardio 6 days/week for fat loss to ‘ditch ½ the cardio and implement strength training’.

Muscle is an aerobically active tissue, having more muscle increases your metabolism so you burn more calories during exercise and at rest. Maximize even further by taking a multi-joint approach to strength training i.e. doing a squat press as opposed to separating the two exercises = higher demand = more caloric expenditure.

To maximize calorie burning impact of strength training and EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) implement circuit-type and/or HIIT (high intensity interval training) as part of your routine. Research shows that training at these higher intensities can elevate your metabolism for hours post-workout.

This is a huge benefit from a cumulative caloric expenditure throughout the week and also decreases the amount of time you actually workout each session.

Mistake #2: Only training what you see in the mirror; I call it the ‘mirror athlete’ approach.

Of course we all want to look good, however there is a huge importance in training your posterior chain (all the muscles from you back to your glutes, hamstrings etc). This not only assists with muscular balance and injury prevention, but also helps counteract the forces of sitting, being at your computer etc.

Mistake #3: Not understanding protein!

Protein is key for recovery. You need to feed your muscles. Protein should make up around 20 to 25 percent of your daily calorie intake. Include lean proteins, such as chicken, tuna and beans protein supplements. All great sources of protein!!

Understand the difference between protein types: plant proteins…milk proteins…isolates…whey for protein supplements etc.

Go clean. Your body will respond best to clean protein sources.

Mistake #4: Eating too little fat.

The truth is, getting enough fat is a smart strategy for both sports nutrition and weight control, because fat: delays stomach emptying, so you feel fuller longer; increases satiety, to shut off hunger hormones; boosts antioxidant absorption, which in emerging research is related to leanness; and ups metabolic rate, to help you burn more calories.

Include good fats at every meal. I like avocado, nuts, seeds.

Mistake #5: Using a sports drink when you don’t really need one.

If you sweat heavily, work out for more than 90 minutes, or exercise in hot, humid conditions, reaching for a sports drink rather than plain water is a smart way to keep hydrated, stay fuelled and replace the electrolytes lost in sweat.

But if you’re exercising for less than an hour and a half, in a climate-controlled gym, plain water should be fine. The carbs in sports drinks are designed to keep you going when you can’t stop to eat, but if your muscles don’t need the fuel, just one 20 ounce bottle means consuming a surplus 35 grams of sugar.

Mistake #6: Not eating after a workout because you’re afraid to “eat back” what you’ve burned.

While it’s true that overcompensating for a workout by eating too much can prevent you from shrinking your fat cells, striking the right balance is key. Working out takes a toll on your body, and having the right raw materials to heal and repair the wear and tear is important for seeing results.