When did you last stop to assess your nutrition? If it’s no longer serving your lifestyle, here’s how to get the balance back.
Nutrition and fitness, diet and training. They’re such an ingrained part of our lives these days. 10 years ago, only professional athletes and elite amateurs paid such close attention to diet. Macros meant a setting on your camera.
Fast forward to 2016 and it seems that everyone has a diet protocol. If you’re not cutting, you’re bulking. But… what for?
Reassess The Role Of Nutrition In Your Life.
Start with honest answers to these questions:
What do you want to achieve with your nutrition?
And – more importantly – why?
Is your style of eating a positive part of your life?
Do you feel like you are in control of your nutrition? Or is it controlling you?
Eating for health, strength, and better body composition is a good thing. We’re not saying anyone should go back to convenience food and massive portion sizes. But sometimes we can get swept up in the healthy-eating storm and lose sight of our personal goals.
Go Back To The Beginnings.
Many people decide to focus on healthier eating because of a major life change. A new job, a relationship break up, having kids. What changes in your own life have led you to your current nutritional set-up?
Remember that eating habits develop over time. Grabbing a pastry at the train station on your way to the new job. Negotiating the tricky landscape of eating alone now you’re single. Nibbling at food you’re making for your kids. None of these things happen overnight. They become unhealthy new routines which need to be unlearned.
So once your life is back on an even keel, it’s time to reassess your nutrition.
Remember The Basics.
If you’ve lost your way with confusing, conflicting nutrition advice, strip things back to basics.
1) Food is energy.
Some people think “food is fuel”. Others think that food is there to be enjoyed. We reckon the truth is somewhere in the middle. Food should be nourishing, enjoyable, and something to look forward to. But don’t forget that food is energy and nutrients. Enjoy what you eat, but never to the detriment of your health.
2) Eat to support your activity levels.
For most healthy people, weight management is calories in (food/drink) vs calories out (BMR, activity, and training). Make sure your calorie intake matches your level of activity. If you’re active, eat more. If you’re sedentary, eat less.
3) Prioritise a well-balanced diet.
Don’t cut out any food group or specific food (unless it affects your health). Eat from all three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). Use a quality whey protein powder to bump up your protein intake if necessary. A rounded, balanced diet includes protein, carbs, and fats. It features vegetables and fruit, pulses and wholegrains, and dairy. Protein can come from a variety of meats, fish and seafood, eggs and liquid egg whites. Add in healthy treats like nut butters. Balance is key to long-term health and happiness, too! Your style of eating needs to nourish your body and emotions for the long term.
4) Supplements are supplementary to food.
Get your nutrition, hydration, macronutrients and micronutrient intake nailed down before worrying about supplements. The clue is in the name. Even the most well-respected basics like Omega 3 fish oils, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C are supplemental to your existing diet. Don’t patch up a poor diet with supplements. Just as you can’t out-train a bad diet, you can’t hold it together with supplements either. You’ll need to go back to basics and address the bigger issues.
5) Fix your lifestyle.
Support all that effort you put into your diet. Poor sleep can lead to low energy, no motivation, and delayed recovery from training. Liquid calories (particularly from alcohol) contribute to fat gain and poor health. Eat too much fast food and you’ll take in excess trans-fats and sugars (and crowd out vitamins and nutrients).
If you’ve lost your way with nutrition, don’t look for another diet. Take it back to basics. Remember why you want to eat better. Then take steps towards eating better and being more active.
About the Author
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.