What could they be? What are the magical 3 habits you need to adopt? Could there be a latest potion on the market that will suddenly help you crush your fitness goals? Maybe you need to start eating raw ginger first thing in the morning, or bathe in coconut oil that you cook your food in.
Nutrition is probably one of the biggest areas of confusion in the modern day health and fitness industry. Every week there is a new strategy or diet being sold to you in the magazines or on social media. But hopefully you are already aware, the job of those magazine companies is to sell copies! If they kept things simple and told you the basics then they probably wouldn’t grab your attention as much.
Whilst there are numerous nutrition habits that could be listed below, as a fitness and nutrition coach who has competed in sport all my life and worked with hundreds of people from a variety of backgrounds, these three will stand the test of time. If you are completely bewildered by the amount of information out there, do these 3 every day and you will be on your way to optimising health and performance.
#1 Stay Hydrated
Sounds simple, but you will be amazed at the amount of people who aren’t staying hydrated every day. Water makes up 60% of the weight of the human body and is essential for:
Maintaining blood volume
Regulating body temperature
Allowing muscle contractions to take place
The fact that the average human could only survive for around 3 days without water (dependent on many factors) illustrates just how important water is for our health. Whether you are an office worker or NFL athlete preparing for the superbowl, being hydrated is key to letting you perform at your best! Just a 2% loss of body weight in fluids can lead to decrease in muscular strength and anything over 4% and you can be at risk of heat stroke and death.
Males: Aim for 2.5-3L per day
Females: Aim for 2-3L per day
The above are averages and don’t take into account:
#2 Eat a variety of non-processed whole foods with veggies making up the majority of your plate
Having grown up in a household where meals were made from scratch and always consisted of vegetables, starchy carbs and protein of some sort, I thought that was the norm. However, it used to shock me, the amount of people in school who would go and buy a few packs of biscuits from the local off-license for lunch. Whilst the habit of eating non-processed foods and lots of veggies is a basic habit that we all know is important, it definitely can’t be drummed into us enough.
But it isn’t just those who might look overweight or obese who aren’t following this habit. There are plenty of athletes and even people who you think are healthy because they are skinny that definitely aren’t healthy. In fact what we often forget is that true health and function is what is going on underneath the visible eye. It is our immune system, our respiratory system, the ability of our organs to perform functionally and resist illness or disease.
In order to truly be healthy and perform at our best it is important we get a wide variety of non-processed foods. Eating chicken, broccoli and rice everyday is not healthy. The body requires diversity in order to get all the micronutrients and antioxidants it needs. Try to ensure you are eating at least 5 portions of different vegetables each day, they should make up the majority of your plate, especially at lunch and dinner (broccoli and carrots aren’t the best breakfast combo)
If you are making your food from scratch then you know exactly what is going into each meal. Keep things simple:
Veggies: Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsnips, Beetroot, Onion, Cabbage….
Starchy Carbs/Legumes: Sweet Potato, Wholegrain noodles/rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat
Protein: Fish (Salmon, trout, cod, tuna), poultry (chicken, turkey), tofu….
#3 Eat Protein with every meal
Now I am not saying that all macronutrients aren’t equally important, however unlike carbohydrates and fats, we can’t store proteins. Proteins are broken down into amino acids (our building blocks) and any excess amount is excreted. Thus, it is important that we try to spread out protein intake throughout the day so that we are constantly keeping the body in an anabolic state, especially if we are an athlete.
If, like many people you consume all your protein intake in one meal (dinner) that could be problematic. Protein is important for so much more than simply “growing your muscles” which might be the typical answer you would get if you asked someone what it’s role is. As mentioned, proteins are the building blocks of the body, they are responsible for the growth and repair, not just of your muscles, but every tissue in the body.
Protein can also be very useful for people trying to lose weight as it has a higher thermogenic effect than fats and carbohydrates, meaning that the human body uses more energy breaking down 1g protein than it does it’s counterparts. The main meal where people struggle to get protein in is breakfast, however it doesn’t need to be complicated. Try any of these recipes:
As mentioned earlier, for those who already have their nutrition pinned down, these might seem basic. Yet, any elite professional will tell you, there is never any harm in revisiting the basics and ensuring you are continually mastering them. I hope you found the article useful and if you would like insider tips on training, nutrition and recovery be sure to join the HLP Community on Facebook: