High intensity interval training is serious exercise so you must prepare your body for the work ahead. The way to do that is with proper nutrition. Without the right fuel, your body is just going to give out before you reach the halfway mark. Unfortunately, very few know how to eat for HIIT. To make sure you are eating well all you have to do is commit to following a clean diet. Clean eating means basing your diet solely on fresh, whole foods and omitting processed junk. This means tons of fruit and vegetables, lean meats like chicken, turkey and fish, as well as complex carbohydrates and dairy in moderation.
In addition to eating clean, you have to watch your macros (macronutrients). For those that do not know, macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat. They are the body’s primary sources of fuel and determine how much progress you make in the gym and whether or not you can handle an intense workout. They also play a huge role in recovery which is just as, if not more, important than the workout itself. A 40-40-20 split works for most. This means 40% of your diet is protein, 40% consists of carbohydrates and 20% is healthy fat.
Protein is extremely helpful for those that do HIIT because it delivers amino acids to the muscles and provides energy. Having enough protein in your diet will give you the energy to power through intense workouts. Protein is slow digesting meaning it breaks down gradually and provides a steady flow of fuel. Protein also benefits recovery. After muscles are used, they are hungry for amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue. When you consume enough protein, those amino acids cause muscles to become bigger, stronger and more resilient in a shorter time frame. Faster recovery equals faster results. Along with eating your protein you may want to consider supplementing. A protein shake before or after a workout is suggested.
Carbs are also really important. Some think that going on a low carb diet and doing tons of high intensity interval training is going to cause them to drop weight fast but that approach is risky. One major risk is forcing your body into a catabolic state meaning muscle breakdown. You see, the glucose you get from carbs is the body’s main source of energy during HIIT as well as other types of exercise. Glucose keeps you working at an intense level during training and when there is not enough, the body goes into your fat stores and then begins to break down muscle tissue to turn those amino acids into glucose for energy resulting in a loss of muscle. The last thing you ever want to lose is muscle! Carbs do not make you fat, consuming more calories than you burn does. Stick with complex carbs, eat enough of them and enjoy the way you are able to perform.
You need fat too. Rather than going for the cake, ice cream and pizza, you need to get your fat from avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish. The bottom line is; you need fat to lose fat. The reason for this is the fact that fat is the body’s secondary source of fuel. When your cardio stores deplete, the fat comes in as your backup.