Do you struggle with knowing what to eat and when?
Do you find it difficult to eat the right foods when you are busy?
Are you someone who wants to lose body fat but are confused about whether you should or should not eat carbohydrates and fats?
Are you someone who experiences low energy in the afternoon and craves sugary foods?
Do any of these questions sound familiar? I get asked these sorts of questions on a regular basis and it’s easy to understand why people don’t know the answers. The plethora of advice out there can make it hard to make the right choice and adopt a healthy diet, and without that, no one can perform to their best potential be it on the sports field or in the boardroom.
The advice in this article is built on many years of working at the highest level with a range of elite athletes. In my role as Head of Strength and Conditioning I have worked alongside expert nutritionists that were amongst the best in their field. With such cutting-edge advice at my fingertips I was able to see first-hand the part nutrition support plays in athletic development and recovery.
You will find nothing ‘faddy’ and nothing ambiguous in this article. The tips below have worked for years and have underpinned the nutrition bedrock of many athletes. They can work for you as well.
Start applying these principles today and see for yourself!
Principle #1: Eat something every 2-3 hours.
Food regularity is a critical element of a solid nutrition plan. It will help with the energy highs and lows that commonly occur during prolonged periods without food, which can have a profound effect on your metabolic profile and hormone levels. You need to promote a consistent and steady intake of fuel spread throughout the day at 2-3-hour intervals. This does not mean you need to eat a full meal every 2-3 hours, but you do need to eat 6 meals and snacks that conform to the other principles below.
Principle #2: Eat lean protein every time you eat. “Build your meals around protein first”.
Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids, which are essential for repairing damaged cells and building new ones. Because protein builds tissue, muscle and bone, it is vital to ensure your intake is at its optimum if you are to achieve your goals. It can be tricky to get your daily quota of protein, but I want you to think Protein, Protein and Protein first…every time you eat!
As a rule of thumb, you should be having a basic intake of 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 86Kg (189 lbs) this equates to 189g of protein per day. You need to ensure this is broken down into 6 feeding opportunities (25-35g each feed) spread throughout the day. You should focus on whole and diverse sources of protein and not rely on shakes and supplements. Whilst I am not adverse to the benefits and convenience of shakes and powders, I would prefer that your main emphasis is on whole sources. This will mean studying the protein content of your foods more carefully, so get used to looking at labels!
Principle #3: Eat as many fresh vegetables (and raw) as you can!!!!
As a rule, you can have vegetables with every meal. Remember, we are wanting to get as healthy and robust as possible. Health is always our priority! And a healthy digestive system underpins our ability to recover from exercise and everyday stressors, and to absorb the good foods we ingest.
The proposition of eating vegetables with EVERY meal can be a daunting one. However, veggies can be incorporated into all your meals if you are prepared to think outside the box and not accept the general attitude of only eating veg with a lunch or evening meal. Leafy greens and brassicas (broccoli, kale etc.) are excellent but try to get as much variety as possible. Spinach is particularly versatile; it has a high nutrient content and can be easily added to breakfast shakes and smoothies. Another simple strategy is to prepare snack pots of raw vegetables to accompany your main meal or snack. Hummus and cottage cheese are good to eat with these snacks. Light dressings, such as rapeseed oil or avocado oil are great and will give you an extra boost of the Omega 3 Fatty acids you need.
Don’t overeat on fruit. You should aim to have a maximum of 2-3 portions of fruit each day.
Principle #4: Save your starchy carbs until AFTER you have exercised.
If you want to eat a carbohydrate that is not a fruit or a vegetable (this includes rice, pasta, bread and potatoes) YOU CAN – BUT you’ll need to save it until after you’ve exercised. Generally speaking, this rule applies to those for whom fat loss is a priority; IF muscle gain is your priority then you will need to have some carbohydrates with every meal.
This principle alone can have a profound effect on you losing fat and feeling and moving better. My advice is to reward yourself after a good workout with a good carbohydrate meal. Your body tolerates these carbohydrates better post exercise and the likelihood of them being converted and stored as fat is dramatically reduced. For the rest of the day, eat your lean protein sources and a delicious selection of fruits, salads and vegetables together with accompanying dressings or dips.
To continue reading and receive the full article including great information on fats, what to drink, whole foods and when you can break the rules, as well as receiving an initial meal plan, book your first block of training here or to be the first to hear about our offers and other resources sign up to our newsletter below