By Lily Arthur

Build those muscles with our bands and great nutrition!

Build those muscles with our bands and great nutrition!

Keeping in top form is important all year round, but the start of a New Year gives you an even better reason to try and improve the way that you exercise and eat. Trying to steer clear of those foods and drinks that you know are doing you no good can be really difficult after the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, but we are almost a month into 2013 so now is the time to start trying if you have not already!

Know What You Need

Breaking old eating habits is one of the first things you have to deal with, but once you know exactly what you have to give your body to achieve the results you want it is not so hard. Supplying your body with the right type of fuel for your usual workout will mean you can exercise longer and harder. Whether you want a cardio workout, or want to build lean muscle, will determine what the best types of food to eat are.

We've broken the article up into 2 parts, the first is on fueling for Muscle Building and the second, which will be released in a few days, will be on eating for Cardio.

Power Up for Muscle Building

Building muscles requires protein, because muscle tissue needs to be repaired after being pushed to the max. If you intend to work your muscles hard, you need to supply them with the protein they need. If you plan to work out a couple of hours after you wake up, a good option is to drink a breakfast whey shake to provide your muscles with the protein it will need. You need to combine this with carbohydrates as well, so things like whole grains and fruits can combine well for a nutritious breakfast. These Low Glycemic Index carbohydrates release their sugar into the body’s bloodstream at a slow steady rate, which is perfect for strength training. A good balance of protein and carbohydrates is around 25% protein to 75% carbohydrates, however the specific amount of protein you need depends on your weight, gender, plus the intensity and length of your workout.

Muscle Building Foods

Before you work out, start the day with a breakfast that includes lots of protein. An egg white and spinach omelette with some whole grain toast is perfect. If you prefer fruit in the morning, try natural Greek yogurt with apple, banana, walnuts and honey. When it comes to a glass of milk with your breakfast, make sure you go for soy or skimmed milk, not full fat whole milk.

When it comes to a post-workout meal, choose something that contains as many whole foods as possible, as these offer the best all round nutrition. Oily white fish, white poultry meat, and eggs provide excellent sources of protein with very little fat. In fact, in addition to high quality protein, eggs also contain almost every mineral and vitamin essential for your body’s healthy nutrition. A tasty salad to try which contains both carbohydrates and protein is tomato and avocado stuffed with cottage cheese.