Rules of Nutrition
Simple guidelines to eat better and train harder
1. VEG OUT
All fruits and veg contain health-enhancing nutrients. But while the
ve-a-day mantra is good at encouraging people to eat more fresh produce in general, if you want to get the most out of your training, and support your fat-burning and musclebuilding e orts, you need to be a lot more speci c about your intake.
For a start, some fruits are very high in fructose, a type of sugar that plays havoc with blood sugar levels, making you far more likely to store fat. Vegetables, on the other hand, contain no fructose but are just as – if not more – nutrient dense.
Green vegetables in particular are a good choice, as they’re an excellent source of slowrelease carbs. Eat as many servings of green veg as possible each day and limit your fruit intake to one to two servings, ideally from low-sugar sources like blueberries or strawberries.
2. STAY WHOLESOME
Nothing will hamper your progress more than overindulging in processed foods. Regularly eating the re ned carbs and sugars that form the basis of most processed snacks, baked goods and fast foods will sap your energy levels and cause fat-storing blood sugar spikes, making it far harder to lose weight or perform at an optimum level.
To make matters worse, these foods typically contain high levels of manmade trans fats, which will make you feel even more lethargic and boost your levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
For healthier alternatives, swap processed foods for more naturally indulgent wholefoods. Trade crisps for nuts, chocolate spread for peanut butter and breakfast cereals for porridge oats, for example – all of which bring additional nutritional bene ts.
3. PICK PROTEIN
Protein plays a crucial role in building muscle, but it’s easy to underestimate just how much you need to maximise its bene ts. Research into the metabolic demands for protein varies greatly, with studies suggesting anything from 0.8g per kg of bodyweight to over 2g as a daily guideline.
If you want to keep things simple, aim to eat a 20-25g serving of protein with every meal, including breakfast. If you’re struggling to achieve that, adding an extra post-workout serving on training days can be a good way to help meet your daily protein goal. In addition to aiding your muscle-building e orts, protein-rich foods also tend to have a high satiety value, making you less likely to have the urge to pig out between meals.
4. FOCUS ON GOOD FATS
‘Eating fatty foods makes you fat’ may sound like a logical assumption, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. It is true that at nine calories per gram, fat is more calori c than carbohydrate or protein – which contain four each – but the reality is that certain fats are a crucial part of your diet.
e mono- and polyunsaturated fats that occur naturally in foods such as oily
sh, nuts, seeds, olives and coconut oil, for example, play key roles in boosting metabolism, improving hormone synthesis and increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
Don’t be fooled by ‘low-fat’ options either. Most have been highly processed to remove the fat, and tend to be packed with salt and sugar to enhance their avour. Instead, focus your energies on avoiding processed junk foods, high in unhealthy man-made trans fats, and enjoy daily servings of healthy, naturally occurring fat sources.
5. CURB CALORIE-COUNTING
It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the quantity of calories you’re consuming, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But the quality of the food you’re eating is far more important, because calories alone don’t provide a reliable indication of the e ect a food can have on your metabolism. For example, drinking a can of zzy drink – which will send your blood sugar soaring – is far more damaging to your fatloss e orts than eating two protein-rich poached eggs, even though both contain a similar number of calories.
It’s also easy to use calorie counting as an excuse to justify poor food choices – a ‘healthy’ packet of crisps may contain fewer than 100 calories, but it’s likely to be full of trans-fats and other nasties. Instead of getting hung up on how many calories every item of food contains, concentrate on eating plenty of wholefoods, vegetables and high-quality protein.