Have you ever found yourself in a position where you know you are training consistently, but you are just not making the strength gains you should be? Or your endurance is lagging behind a little? Maybe you have retested a workout and the result wasn't quite what you had hoped? These are all fairly common occurrences with amateur athletes and the common ground here is generally fuel. What we put into our bodies will determine what we get out of them. An extreme example, maybe, but if you put diesel into a petrol car, and then try to break the land speed record, what do you think will happen? Not much!
The same applies to an athlete. If you constantly fill yourself up with poor quality food, with no consistent ratio of the macronutrient content, the likelihood is, that your metabolic system will be working at a rate that is nowhere near its true potential. This has a number of knock on effects.
Tiredness - excessive amounts of any food, never mind junk food can leave us feeling lethargic, tired, even moody. When our blood sugar level spikes, the inflammatory reaction in our cells actually prevents us from absorbing energy and therefore burning it efficiently. This leaves us in a constant state of tiredness and hormone imbalance. The main culprits here would be foods high in sugar. Artificial sweeteners are also guilty (That's a topic for another day!)
Weight gain - even if you are training every day and becoming stronger, if you are consistently making poor food choices, the chances are, that you will continue to gain fat. There are a few reasons for this, but put simply, your body is unable to efficiently use the calories from processed foods. Going a step further from the first point, if you have excess calories in your system, and your cells are unable to absorb and use them, they will simply turn into fat.
Both of these have a direct link to your athletic performance. When you are tired or lethargic, it is both physically and mentally challenging to get the best out of your workout. If you don't feel particularly good on your way into the gym, chances are, you won't feel great during your session either. The same thing applies to weight gain. If you are carrying a little extra bodyfat, and you are aware that it's down to poor decision making at the dinner table, it can be difficult to perform at your best. This can be quite a tough place to be, particularly around this time of year, when the mornings are dark, the weather is cold and the people around you are generally eating and drinking for comfort.
So what are your options? Quite a few actually. Taking a bit of time out for yourself and working out some small improvements to your diet would be a great place to start! sometimes a small change has a big impact. Maybe you could reassess the amount of water you are drinking. Or take a look at the amount of protein you are consuming throughout the day, and whether it is enough to support your training.
The end goal for you would be to get yourself into what we call 'The Zone'. The is when your body goes into the perfect hormonal balance which allows for the most efficient rate of fat burning and muscle growth. and guess what? - It is determined by the amount of food we eat, its quality and its ratio of macronutrient content. If you can get into this zone, you will see good things happen pretty quickly.