Simple Nutrition Advice For Athletes
As the head coach at GW I get asked a lot of questions which all boil down to finding ways to achieve better results. The athletes want to be fitter, look better and feel amazing. If you want to achieve this and continue on getting results for the long run then you need to promote nutrition up the priority list.
Combining better eating with great training is the blueprint you need. The goal of this article is to offer some straightforward, no nonsense advice for the whole community.
Sugars: This is where I see huge amounts of damage being done. Our bodies only need approximately 1 teaspoon of sugar per day to stay alive, however many humans naively choose to have in excess of 20 and some exceed 50! In sum, this causes a break down in the body’s capability to disperse the sugars that will lead to obesity, type two diabetes or both. Even if you’re not at the higher end of consumption the impairment to your insulin sensitivity will blunt performance and body composition.
Action: stay away from soft drinks & juices; stop adding sugar to your coffee or tea; avoid breads, pastries and cereals that have plenty of sugar added to the cooking process. Also, be aware that “healthy” raw snacks have loads of fructose and sweeteners that act in the same fashion as traditional sugar.
Liquids: Here is a good rule of thumb: divide your bodyweight by 30. That is the minimum litres of water you should consume daily. Activity, climate and health status will drive the number up. If you consume coffee or caffeinated teas (e.g. green tea) you will also need to increase water intake. Alcohol? It has all kinds of negative impacts. Limit your intake or don’t bother.
Action: get a 1litre aluminium or glass bottle (less toxins than plastic) and know how many times you need to fill + drink per day. Try to drink filtered water and add a pinch of Himalayan salt for electrolytes post training!
Eat Real Food
Believe it or not but these are critical and essential to health. Performance and body composition aside, consuming enough of the right types of fats can change your health dramatically. Hormone regulation, brain function and gut health all require the presence of fats in the diet. It’s also beneficial for performance if the body becomes efficient at using fat as an energy source as well as glucose (carbs).
Action: start loving fish oils (supplement), avocados, unsalted nuts, seeds, coconut oil and olive oil to name a few fat sources that should be present in your diet.
Quality Carbohydrates: Vegetables
Food isn’t what it used to be. Forget what it was like 1000 years ago, it isn’t the same as it was 40 years ago. Preservatives, pesticides, and hormones are present everywhere you look. To ensure you are getting enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and fuelling your muscle glycogen stores with the best sources possible FILL your diet with as much locally grown organic green vegetables as you can. Mixing it up with some coloured starches (e.g. sweet potato and pumpkin) and a little fruit will ensure you are getting your carb quota.
Action: it is near impossible to eat enough green vegetables. In fact, even the healthiest of us unlikely to be getting enough fibre so fill your plates with mixes of greens! You can steam them, bake them, roast them….whatever you do just get involved big time.
Sorry if you’re a vegetarian or choose not to eat animal protein but the bottom line is that 30-40% of each meal needs to be made up of quality protein sources. Lean meats like chicken, turkey, white fish and lower-fat cuts of red meat like eye fillet beef are fantastic start. Obviously organic (and grass fed beef) help take out the toxicity factor. Eggs are critical as the yolk also provides healthy fats too.
Action: be honest – are you getting enough protein? Check all your meals and see if 30% is made up of protein. Or, are you consuming too much fatty meat? Check what meats you’re consuming and combine the fat content with your other fat intake to see just how much fat you’re consuming.
Get committed and consistent
There you have it. Simple strategies and knowledge to help answer the question “what should I eat?”. Information is wonderful but useless without action. Action isn’t effective unless it is consistent. Nutrition can be looked at like training: you won’t get the results unless you work hard at it. It’s also great to have a coach who can individualise your plan and keep you accountable. So go away, take action then contact me if you want to go a step further.
Up next I will talk about supplements, specifically what you should and shouldn’t take.
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