When it comes to losing weight and getting in shape, you’ll be most successful if you eat an appropriate cardio diet. A cardio diet isn’t a diet, per se, but a method of eating that is productive with your cardiovascular-heavy workout routine. Really, it’s a matter of eating to balance the calories you need to be physically active without gaining weight. Follow these hints, and you’ll know how to balance your cardio fitness with your eating habits.
Hint 1: Figure Out How Many Calories (Approximately) You’re Burning Through Cardio
You need to know how many calories you’re burning each day so you can eat accordingly. On average, taking in approximately 1500-1600 calories a day will result in one pound lost per week. If you’re burning 300 calories a day doing cardio, you should be eating at least 1800 calories. The more you work out, the more you need to eat to make sure you’re not sending your body into starvation mode. It doesn’t have to be exact; have a general idea of how many calories you typically burn during your workout. Fitness websites have helpful calculators that allow you to figure out these numbers based upon the minutes you workout, the kind of exercise and your weight.
Hint 2: Keep a Food and Fitness Diary
By tracking your cardio routines and everything you eat daily, you’ll be able to easily find the culprits when you plateau or start gaining–or losing–too much weight. Keeping a fitness diary should be relatively easy. All you need to do is write down what cardiovascular activity you did on your calendar.
A food diary requires a little more effort and focus. Write down everything you eat, even the small handful of candy off of your co-workers desk. If you find yourself gaining weight, you can coordinate your diet and cardio by either increasing your workout time or intensity or by modifying your diet to include fewer calories.
Hint 3: Eat to Fuel Your Body
When you think of food as fuel, it’s often easier to eat the right kind of foods. You want to eat things that won’t be counterproductive to your fitness efforts. Eating clean and unprocessed foods is the best option for any cardio diet. By eating natural foods, you’ll give your body the nutrients it needs without any harmful extras. Your cardio diet should include plenty of lean protein (preferably at each meal), complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, along with plenty of vegetables.
Hint 4: Don’t Overeat after Your Workout
You’ve just spent an hour in kickboxing class and are starving afterwards. It’s okay to go ahead and eat that cheeseburger and fries after class, right? Wrong! The worst thing you can do after cardiovascular exercise is to eat whatever your heart desires. You’re much better off eating a low calorie healthy snack before your class (think a glass of skim milk, a handful of almonds, etc) to curb your hunger and give you energy and then eat a regular meal or snack afterwards.
Your diet and cardio should work together–not against one another. Strive to eat healthy foods, and you’re on the right path!