Revolution is a strong word, with strong connotations:
Revolutionise: Change radically; make different; cause a transformation.
The question that has to be asked before embarking on a dietary revolution is why are you doing it? Are you lacking in strength and power? Are you carrying too much extra cushioning? Or are you simply aspiring for continual improvement? Your specific needs will determine the need for radical changes and how to go about it.
Of course, this is not to suggest that radical changes are needed to be successful. Radical changes, however, may be suitable for a short period of time to meet specific goals.
Below are three tips that may break from your ‘norm’ and can help to revolutionise your diet.
Low carbohydrate diets have become very popular for dropping body-fat. The theory of this is sound – reduce calorie intake and create a better fat burning environment by controlling insulin levels (carbohydrate, particularly sugary carbohydrate, can increase insulin levels which can limit fat burning). However, if you have any performance goals and need fuel for intense training sessions, very low carbohydrate diets may not be optimal.
The idea of carbohydrate cycling is to have high carbohydrate days, medium days and low days. The aim of the high days is to ‘refeed’ the body, replenish fuel levels and potentially increase the circulation of metabolic hormones.
An example could be:
Monday: Low (75-100g carbs)
Tuesday: Low (75-100g carbs)
Wednesday: Medium (150g carbs)
Thursday: Low (75-100g carbs)
Friday: Medium (150g carbs)
Saturday: Low (75-100g carbs)
Sunday: High (500g carbs)
These recommendations aren’t set in stone, but mentally it can help having a high carbohydrate day at the weekend! Alternatively, the amounts can be calculated relative to bodyweight:
Low: 1-.1.25g carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight (80kg = 80-100g)
Medium: 2g carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight (80kg = 160g)
High: 7g carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight (560g)
Instead of having very low calories all the time, it is possible to time nutrient intake to give your body fuel and nutrients when it needs them the most. After an intense training session it makes sense to have some carbs and protein – at this time the body is in a very receptive state to absorb nutrients, so it makes sense to utilise the abundance of enzymes/transporters in circulation.
Simply, have a lower calorie/carbohydrate diet during the day and have your largest meals immediately after training and the meal after that. This aids refuelling, muscle recovery and helps the body adapt to the stimulus created during the training session. This is a similar concept to ‘Carb Back Loading’ where, very simply, no carbohydrates are consumed pre-training.
Training on empty
Recent research suggests that training first thing in the morning on an empty stomach can enhance fat burning. An important consideration for those looking at performance is training on empty, not surprisingly, showed decreases in performance.
However, if you’re performing low intensity cardiovascular work in the mornings, it may be beneficial to do this on an empty stomach 2-3 times per week (not every session). Alternatively, having some protein or branched chain amino acids prior to exercise can help to protect your muscles.
While these changes may not seem revolutionary to all, if it results in a marked change to your normal eating pattern then your diet has been revolutionised. If you feel your diet needs a shake-up, assess the options above to see if they fit in with your goals and lifestyle and hopefully they will help to give you some structure and to revolutionise your performance.