I get a lot of questions regarding nutrition and diet, especially with new clients, people want to know how to eat, or to reaffirm that what they are eating is not crap. This is an imminently frustrating topic for me, because people invariably make excuses ‘I can’t give up my chocolate’, ‘if I eat less bread what will I eat’, ‘I don’t like drinking water’. I have started asking people what they think they should eat, guess what? People have a really good idea about what should be going into their bodies, they just don’t want to commit to the lifestyle change that eating healthy requires.
Sexy, but not what I am talking about
Let’s take a quick look at macronutrients:
First, what are they? Macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts as they provide energy for bodily processes (metabolism, growth, life…etc). The three main macronutrients are:
These have received a lot of bad press in the past years because people are looking for an excuse as to why they are fat and weak. There are a myriad of reasons for this, and too many carbs definitely played a role, but too much protein and fat will also make you fat.
Here are some reasons that carbohydrates are pretty great in my book:
- Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel.
- Carbohydrates are easily used by the body for energy (they are pretty simple, and require less energy to break down).
- All of the tissues and cells in our body can use glucose for energy.
- Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy.
- Carbohydrates are mainly found in starchy foods (like grain and potatoes), fruits, milk, and yogurt. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and cottage cheese contain carbohydrates, but in lesser amounts.
Whole grain bread (if it has an expire date later than a couple of days it’s no good), potatoes, muesli for breakfast, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, NUTS (a good source of healthy fat), fruit, veggies. Eat most of your carbs before the evening, more at breakfast, pre and post training.
You need complete amino acids to build your body; if you are a vegetarian you need to make sure that you are getting all the eight essential amino acids that eating meat supplies the body. If you train hard you should be taking in at least 1g of protein per pound, if you want to gain mass 1.5-2g per pound.
Need for protein
- Immune function
- The manufacture of essential hormones and enzymes
- Energy production when carbohydrates are unavailable (suboptimal and hard on the system)
- Growing and preserving lean muscle mass
Grass fed beef, wild fish, chicken, eggs, ostrich, diary products (these do increase inflammation responses in the body)
Non animal sources: veggies, nuts, and legumes. Quinoa- the only complete vegetable protein that we know of.
Fats taste good, people eat too much bad fat, and avoid the good fat. Good fat (mono & polyunsaturated), is necessary for many important bodily processes, such as:
- Normal growth and development
- Energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy, which is why it gets stored)
- Vitamin absorption ( vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids)
- Maintaining cell membranes
- Cholesterol management
- Prevention of heart disease
Good fats come from nuts (almonds, peanuts, pistachios), olive, coconut, and avocado oil. When added to the diet correctly these fats can help to maintain a healthy body weight and even aid in weight loss. Use these oils for cooking, or a bit as a dressing, eat some nuts and fruit as a snack.
The guidelines call for 6-8 8ounce glasses a day. I say that isn’t enough, get 12 in there. Carry a water bottle and haul off that rather than that 5th cup of coffee, or 3rd soda (don’t drink soda, unless you make it yourself, only a bit of coffee).
Don't take his water.
Are you getting the point? Eat food that you know is good for you, if you are unsure then figure it out. If the food label is a mile long it is probably a bad choice. Eat simple ingredients that you can combine to create great meals, stay away from prepackaged crap. Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean grass fed meat. This is not rocket science, if food is packaged as convenient and fast, and comes frozen, don’t eat it, if you don’t recognize the ingredients, avoid it (unless you have never cooked a thing in your life, then baking powder is a magical mystery to you).
Being healthy is a lifestyle change, you can’t just pop into a gym once every week and plod away on a treadmill for 30 minutes and expect to reap the benefits. You need will and strength training to back that up. This works the same way with food, eating an apple doesn’t mean you are suddenly healthy. You need to eat good food, and drink plenty of water. You need to strength train 3x a week and get some sort of cardiovascular exercise in (I like battle ropes, sled pulling, pushing, and sprints). If you can’t commit to leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and eating right you will never get to where you want to be.
Stop making excuses and dedicate yourself to changing your life for the better.