Sunday, 7 January 2018

Help - what should I eat?

At this time of year, there are a lot of coaches, trainers and nutritionists out there vying for your attention.  They want you to believe that what they have to say on the matter makes them more knowledgeable than the next guy.  You'll hear all kinds of phrases bandied around that make it sound like their particular method is THE method that will finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together and get you the body you want.

I'm not suggesting I am more qualified or knowledgeable than the next guy on matters of nutrition but as with everyone else, I have my own personal take on all things nutrition related. 

Here are my thoughts on nutrition.

Calories

Of course, it goes without saying (although, funnily, still needs to be reiterated often)
if you consume more calories than you expend, you will get fatter!

That being said, not all calories are created equal.

It must also go without saying that 1000 calories of McDonalds cannot possibly be as good for you as 1000 calories of ethically raised, grass-fed beef and vegetables. 

For an elite athlete (probably not you, definitely not me) you are going to need to keep right on top of your calorie intake in order to ensure you stay lean enough to make gymnastics easier, muscly enough to lift the heavy loads and to ensure you have sufficient energy to fuel your workouts. 

For a lot of people this is unnecessary bollocks that clouds the real issues (you are eating the wrong stuff and probably too much of it, you eat too much sugar and you drink too much alcohol).

Macros

You will hear all about macros form the 'health professionals'.

Your body does have an optimal requirement of unprocessed fat, protein and carbohydrate: macros.

An elite athlete (remember, that's probably not you, however awesome at CrossFit you are and it's definitely not me) is going to need to make sure that their macros are on track to make sure that they are optimising how their bodies use the nutrients they ingest.

For the average Joe, this close control is superfluous fluff that clouds the real issues (see above).

Supplements

If you are eating a wide variety of unprocessed food and you don't have a medical issue that requires you to take supplements, you are unlikely to need them. 

I understand that as a CrossFit 'athlete' it looks kind of cool to have a special shaker filled with the latest protein powder, a pre-workout and a post workout and supplement this and supplement that but it's much easier (and cheaper) to eat well.  Supplements are not a replacement for a nutritious diet.

There's a lot of other stuff out there, intermittent fasting, low carb diets (these annoy me as they aren't low carb per se, they are low starch....all vegetables are carbohydrate!) etc etc.  I'm not going to go into all that as I want this to be simple.

So what should you do?

This advice is for everyone but if you need to lose a considerable amount of fat, you are going to need to be way, way stricter than someone who just wants to maintain or be more healthy or lose a little bit of Christmas tub. 

  • Do some research, take responsibility for achieving your goals and make this a learning opportunity.  

  • Eat a palm sized amount of protein with each meal (3 meals a day)
  • Have a 2-3 fingers of fat (healthy fat - avocado, nuts, home-made mayonnaise, cream, butter, olive oil, coconut oil etc) with each meal
  • Fill the rest of your plate with a colourful mixture of vegetables and fruit
  • drink a glass of water with each meal

  • Do not eat anything with a list of ingredients - this cuts out all things with added sugar
  • Limit or avoid (play around with this to see how it makes you feel) white potatoes and white rice
  • Eliminate completely (and this is harder, I know) bread, pasta, pastry, cakes and biscuits
  • Limit or avoid alcohol (this could also be hard but you may be genuinely surprised by the long list of benefits) 

  • If you feel hungry between meals, either you aren't eating enough at meal times or you are still eating sugar and wheat.  If you need snacks in between, try mixing a small amount of protein with carbs - one egg and an apple or a handful of nuts and a banana or a tablespoon or two of full fat Greek yoghurt and a squirt of honey, a tablespoonful of cooked chicken and a rice cake....etc....
  • If you genuinely want to lose fat and feel better, this isn't going to happen by getting your calories and macros from ice-cream and burgers.  It isn't going to be achieved through saving up your calories and macros for a Saturday evening binge of Budweiser and chips!  Don't be a dick about it.

  • If you find your workouts suffer (or you are more tired or lack energy) because this way of eating has drastically cut your caloric intake, make sure you add in a little starchy carbs to the meal you eat before you train - so if you train in the evening before dinner, have a sweet potato for lunch, if you train in the morning before breakfast, have some rice perhaps with your evening meal etc.

  • If you aren't losing weight and you think you are eating well, this might be why: 
  1. you are lying or mistaken about what you are actually consuming - try keeping a private and brutally honest food diary for a week).
  2. you are eating too much - think more carefully about your portion sizes - are you having too much in each meal or too many meals?
  3. Your meals aren't balanced enough so you are eating more snacks between meals.
  4. you haven't stopped drinking alcohol.
  5. you haven't stopped eating sugar.

  • Realise it might be hard work.  But do it anyway.


Avoid like the plague everything that allows you to still eat crap and lose weight - you will learn nothing and just end up miserable.  Do not use anything that claims to get you slim and healthy through soups, shakes, bars, pills, powders or other such bollocks.


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