Regardless of how advanced you are in your training career, if you’re serious about making gains you understand the importance of nutrition. There are two components to making progress in the gym: muscle stimulus and recovery. Stimulus refers to the work done in the gym, and recovery pertains to everything outside the gym, mainly sleeping, eating, and praying you gained an inch on your biceps. Thus, to optimize muscle and strength gains, each of these components must be optimized individually.

Like previously stated, sleep and diet are main components of recovery, of which the latter takes much more effort do to correctly. By diet I don’t mean weight loss diet, I am referring to the total daily composition of what you consume. There are a plethora of ways to diet, some better than others, and some which are just totally absurd. Methods of dieting can range from very strict, such as following a cookie cutter meal plan out of a health magazine, to much less strict methods such as if it fits your macros and intuitive eating.

 

What is intuitive eating?

First, I think it is important to explain what intuitive eating is not. Intuitive eating is not a free for all; eating whatever you want whenever you want. But it is also not restricting yourself to certain foods, meal timing, or meticulously measuring daily caloric intake.

Intuitive eating is defined by the scientific community as eating for physical rather than emotional reasons. It requires being well aware of, and relying on physical cues such as hunger and satiety to indicate when and how much to eat. Intuitive eating is a new and innovative way the change the mindset of “dieting,” hopefully resulting in long term behavioral changes in regards to food choices.

In other words, you don’t eat because “wow that cake looks really good, I should have another slice,” but rather because “I just worked out and haven’t eaten in four hours. Therefore, I should probably have a high protein meal to make some gains.” This seems and sounds pretty straight forward, but the main point I am trying to make is that you eat for NEED rather than DESIRE, and it is done so in a thorough and thoughtful manner.

If we apply intuitive eating to the population of people who lift, which I assume is everyone reading this article, it is important to roughly measure protein intake and weigh yourself on a regular basis when practicing intuitive eating. Studies conducted on intuitive eating have not been performed on healthy, athletic populations. Mainly, they have been conducted on obese, and other diseased populations to study the efficacy of the dieting method in relation to weight loss, diet adherence, body composition, and individuals’ relationship with food. For those of us who lift and have physique and/or strength goals, consuming adequate protein to stimulate hypertrophy is critical. Additionally, it is important to weigh yourself regularly to ensure that your rate of weight gain/loss, depending on your goal, is going according to plan.

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