Getting your nutrition right can be a minefield with all the conflicting advice that is out there. Whether you’re a fitness newbie, an avid-gym goer or an aspiring body-builder, you can always benefit from a push in the right direction towards brushing up your eating habits.
Here are some simple, yet effective nutrition an diet tips that will make reaching your goals a whole lot easier!
#1 Drink enough water
Our bodies are made mostly of water, and so it makes sense that including enough of this in your day to day routine is crucial to maintaining good health. Shoot for at least two litres a day, although you may need more if you are training hard or if the weather is hot.
Water also helps prevent bloating that can be caused by dehydration. By ensuring your water intake is adequate, your body won’t cling to it in fear that it won’t get any more when it needs it!
A lot of people find it difficult to drink enough water throughout the day, or simply don’t enjoy drinking it. Try:
✓ Adding cucumber/berries into your water for a tasty flavour boost.
✓ Invest in a large water bottle to keep on your desk at work – a lot of the time you’re just too busy to head to the water cooler.
✓ Always drink water before eating – you may just be de-hydrated and not hungry and it may even prevent you from sneaking off to the vending machine.
#2 Get in more than five a day
Although it is well known that it’s recommended we get five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, this is actually the minimum and we should all be shooting above that. Although it may sound like a lot of portions, it’s really not that difficult to fit it in…
By having two to three servings of vegetables with each meal and snacking on some fruit through the day, you will find your intake increases pretty rapidly.
✓ Fruit and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals, all of which are needed to maintain a healthy body so that it can carry out processes such as building muscle and recovering our muscles after a workout.
✓ Fruit and vegetables are also a great source of dietary fibre – which can help if you’re having any digestive issues. Avoiding stomach discomfort might even boost your mood to attend that gym session!
#3 Get enough fibre
Fibre is a dieter’s best friend. Not only are foods high in fibre extra filling, but it also helps to keep you regular. Fibre makes you feel full by absorbing water and expanding in the stomach. There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble.
Both forms of fibre are needed in the diet:
✓ Soluble fibre is absorbed by the body and has been shown to have benefits such as lowering cholesterol. This is found in foods such as oats, flaxseed and fruit.
✓ Insoluble fibre is not digested by the body, and simply passes through the body without being broken down. This type of fibre keeps your digestive system healthy. It is found in foods such as oat bran and nuts.
Shoot for 30 grams of fibre a day, but be warned, sudden jumps are not recommended as this can cause tummy trouble! Increase your intake gradually until you hit the recommended amount.
#4 Eat for your goals
Your food intake should reflect your goals and not a guestimate of what you think you should be consuming by watching other people’s eating habits!
✓ Trying to build muscle?
You are going to need a surplus of calories to fuel the muscle growth and give you the energy to power through tough workouts.
✓ Seeking weight loss?
You’ll need to have a calorie deficit – but not to the extent of being extreme! Try working out the macros for your goals and a plan realistically to prevent causing any type of bad relationship with food – or yet worsen one!
#5 Record your food intake
Studies have shown that dieters who record their food intake have more success than those who don’t. This may be for a number of reasons such as an increased awareness of what calories they have consumed and also a feeling of accountability by writing down what they had eaten!
I mean, think about it… If you’ve promised yourself that you’ll write down all of your daily intake, won’t you feel guilty for eating that sneaky slice of cake? Maybe not… but it’ll certainly make you think twice about what is actually going into your body if you record the nutritional info!
You don’t have to be a dieter to benefit from this habit though; it can also serve the purpose of making sure you are eating enough.
#6 Eat a variety of foods
Variety is the spice of life! Make sure you try to eat different foods regularly so that you can take full advantage of the nutritional benefits a varied diet has to offer.
Certain foods are high in particular vitamins and minerals, so by rotating the foods that you eat you can make sure you are not deficient in any. You are also more likely to stick to a food plan if you are not bored with it… Remove the idea in your head that you have to eat exactly the same foods every single day to reach your goals.
In fact, you’ll benefit from mixing your foods up as your body will constantly be working to burn the extra calories from the foods it didn’t expect to appear! Just make sure you’re training harder to burn off higher calorific foods… e.g. don’t feel bad about eating that extra portion of sweet potato fries on Leg day, you’ll need them!
#7 Read the label
Labels can tell a very different story to what our estimations of a food’s calorie content actually is. It is also very important to take heed of what a portion size is considered to be on the label.
Sometimes companies put an unrealistic portion size on the label which can make you think a food is lower calorie than it actually is.
The idea of checking labels does seem quite mind-numbing to some – however, wouldn’t you rather be confident in what is going into your body? It may even spur you to make a lot more wholesome, home-made foods/meals!
#8 Supplements compliment, not replace…
Supplements can make a huge difference to your progress, and be very beneficial to your diet. It is however, important to understand that they are not a replacement for a healthy balanced diet.
They definitely compliment a healthy diet, therefore to get maximum results from them you need to take care with both your food intake and training. For example, you wouldn’t want to be consuming numerous scoops of Creatine a day for it’s benefit of increased strength and power – when you’re only training once a week. Water-retention nightmare! A good place to start (personally) would be to focus on muscle recovery to promote lean muscle growth (including toning up).
✓ Protein shakes – Can be taken any-time for Muscle recovery and growth or as a snack if seeking weight loss
✓ BCAA’s – Branch Chain Amino Acids: Needed in the body for effective Muscle Recovery (helps muscle soreness! Well, DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
✓ Multivitamin for immune function
(See more – Etc…)
#9 Stay accountable
Take responsibility for your nutrition. You’ve wanted to clean up your eating habits for a while – and now is a better time than ever. Even if you’ve got a manic lifestyle, every single excuse that you tell yourself won’t make you any closer to achieving your goals.
A bit of self-discipline can go a long way – and you’ll soon get into the habit of making healthy eating a part of your lifestyle, rather than circling through diets… (trust me, we’ve all been there!)
✓ Plan ahead if you have a busy week coming up – don’t bomb yourself down with buying all the foods you’ve seen scrolling on instagram… head for the basics and start from there.
✓ Get a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, some of your favourite healthier foods – whether it be lean meats like chicken and turkey breast or some lentils, chickpeas, brown pasta and rice for the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Biggest tip: Stick to unprocessed foods! Check out some of Myprotein’s recipes for some ideas.
✓ Always make sure that you have handy healthy options close to hand for emergencies – nuts, berries, protein bars, protein powder.
This will help you to stay on track even if the odds are stacked up against you!
#10 Allow yourself treats
Don’t be too strict on yourself. It is important to allow yourself treats so that you are happy and don’t feel deprived! That doesn’t mean I’ve given you the thumbs up to go and stuff your face into a thick-crust pizza and a tub of ice-cream, but more allow yourself that extra protein bar or tub of fruit…
As silly as it may seem – this is where a lot of people can go wrong (including myself.) For example, I may refuse to allow myself an extra banana, another serving of sweet potato or go out of my way to hide the low-cal hot chocolate as I’m being “extremely good.”
The result? Deprivation of allowing yourself a slightly larger portion of the healthier option, may just end up with raiding the fridge and scoffing that cake you’ve had your eye on since yesterday.
It is much easier to stick with a nutrition plan if you allow yourself to let your hair down every now and again, and consistency always trumps perfection!
Take Home Message
Never feel like you haven’t got your nutritional habits on point like “everyone else” has… it’s definitely a personal measure of what is suited best for you!
Although there are literally thousands of different dietary lifestyles that you can adopt – these tips will help with the general strategy that can help assist whatever you choose to follow to benefit your body and goals.
That and consistency!
Loosen up a little, experiment with your nutrition and really enjoy nourishing your body to move better, feel better and notice an increase in energy.