My Top tips on nutrition for eating success.
TIP 1 – Eat to Move , Don’t Move to eat
This means considering your meals in relation to when you are going to move. It’s about eating to energize yourself and being considerate about the fact that you really are what you eat! Eating the right foods first and foremost is about trying to improve your health. The bi-product is less weight , better looking skin, greater energy levels, better sleep patterns and a less chance of getting life threatening illnesses. Compound that with the right exercise – such as the exercise on our HELLOFIT programme – and you are on the road to really doing something amazingly positive. Considering food to energize in a positive way, i.e. eating to fuel your workouts rather than exercising to burn of what you have just eaten, you will improve your ability to workout far more effectively and you will be able to reap loads of benefits. The rest of my tips will help to explain exactly how you can do this.
TIP 2 – Always eat 3 meals a day
If you skip a meal you tend to get hungrier and grab the wrong foods. Plan your meals and make sure you know where the next meal is coming from. If you are on a budget then write down each meal in relation to when you are moving and then go to the supermarket and stock up for the week. When you eat your 3 meals is very individual – some people really find it hard to sit down and eat breakfast. Whether it’s a time issue or something else , just remember that you body and brain will not function well until you’ve had that first meal. So try taking breakfast with you to work and eating it mid morning and remember it’s absolutely vital to have had that meal with a healthy portion of all your main nutrients before you workout. If you end up eating late at night, still eat your meal but think about whether you need those starchy carbs (see TIP 4).
TIP 3 – Say No to Snacks!
We don’t need them – especially when you are doing tip 2 above. Snacking was something invented in the 20th century to encourage us to buy confectionery – the snacking culture is so bad for us and it has to stop! Have a think about it ….may be you only ever eat one main meal a day and snack the rest of the time? In which case change your snack into a proper meal but eat a really healthy small meal instead that is balanced according to all of these tips. The only exception to this rule is if you are about to workout yet your last meal was a long time ago, may be the night before or 4/5 hours ago at lunch time, then you can have a snack. Go for something that includes carbs and protein, such as a banana with a handful of nuts, a protein bar or a smoothie.
TIP 4 – Understanding Carbs
There are 3 main (macro) nutrients that we need to eat every day, Carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, grains and starchy foods like potatoes, bread, pasta etc. It also includes the dreaded sugary foods which are often a combination of bad fats, sugars and all the nasty stuff that mucks up our metabolism and makes us feel tired, lethargic and depressed – yes really! If you’d like to learn more about the effects of sugar – read my blog on it here. Start getting it into your head that these sugary, foods, often processed foods, from sweets , to pure sugars, confectionery, doughnuts to chocolate cake – they all have to disappear from your diet 80% of the time. That means the odd one here or there is fine, but when they become a whole meal or you end up skipping a meal for a packet of biscuits, you know you are in trouble. We do not need these sugars to live – they are superfluous to our needs.
What you do need however is:
- Fruits and vegetables – where you’ll also get lots of what we call micro nutrients from vitamin A to Zinc and are essential for our bodies to function and be healthy. These are a light form of carbohydrate and you should have 2/3 portions with every meal – where a portion is roughly the size of your palm.
- Starchy carbs – If you are eating the above, i.e. fruits and vegetables with every meal you don’t then always have to have these. You will however need them to move so have them when you are going to exercise, ideally 1 – 2 hours before and also have them after a big workout because you’ll need to replenish your body to enable it to keep functioning well, so after a big workout , have some grains, ideally wholegrains, e.g brown rice, pasta, breads etc and ideally within an hour of your workout – but for the average person this is just one portion about the size of your palm. If you’re working out more than our 5 x 30 mins per week minimal plan then you may need more. Be mindful of this when you workout – if you are lacking energy then you may need to increase this slightly before and after working out.
- Protein – is essential for muscle repair and growth – this is what is going to impact on your metabolism and why it’s so important. Have protein with every meal but again just the size of your palm and again try to have within an hour, after your workout. If you are training more than our minimum of 30 mins 5 x week, you may need to increase this, especially for men and anyone who is taller or heavier than average. Our daily protein intake is anything between 1 – 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight so your size will have a bearing on this. Go for as wide a variety as you can including fish, pulses, seeds, nuts, as well as dairy and meats if you are not vegan/vegetarian. Not that I’m suggesting you start weighing out your food – but just be mindful that you may need a little more or less depending on your size.
- Fats – there are good and bad ones, eat mostly good ones please! Again they carry a lot of vital nutrients These include nuts, olive oil, avocados, dairy and other animal sources such as goat, sheep and some vegetable oils – go for natural forms that haven’t been treated or manufactured (which tend to be the bad ones!) When looking at fats as a portion – think of the size of a teaspoon of pure fat (i.e. oil or butter), or a tablespoon of whole foods such as avocados or nuts, aim to eat 1-3 portions with each meal. And don’t be sacred of these fats – they are so good for you! Pay attention to things like your hair and skin which will improve if you are consistent with eating these and ditching processed foods.
TIP 5 – get the balance of your meals right
This tip really sums up all of the above….
- Eat a portion of protein, 1-3 portions of fat (remember this is a much smaller portion size than carbs and protein) and 2-3 portions of vegetables or fruit with EVERY meal.
- Eat starchy grains (go for wholemeal, less refined foods such as brown rice, various grains, breads etc) before and after a big workout.
- If you are not about to move, don’t worry about eating the grains. Just a portion of protein with lots of vegetables is all you need – think of your plate as being ¼ full of protein (e.g. palm size piece of chicken or fish) and 3/4 full of healthy veg! If you are about to workout or have just worked out, switch a ¼ of the veg into starchy whole carbs such as a jacket potato, brown rice or grains. For breakfast go for ¼ grains (cereals) ¼ nuts or yogurt and the rest fruit or have an egg with grilled tomatoes mushrooms and lightly cooked spinach. Add a slice of wholemeal toast if you are about to move big.
Finally and most importantly – Remember that YOU ARE UNIQUE! As the owner of your body you are in the best place to understand how your body works and no one else, unless they are a qualified dietitian or nutritionist, can tell you what is right! Be mindful therefore of what and when you are eating and how it has an effect on YOU. The more you listen and adjust to what your body and mind is telling you, the more success you’ll have.