When it comes to nutrition, with all the differing opinions out there, you are forgiven for being somewhat confused. Now the world of nutrition can be as complicated as you want to make it, I mean, we can get into the biochemistry of everything, count every calorie you ever eat and weigh every stem of broccoli that leaves your fridge but at the end of the day for the majority of people this is paralysis by analysis. Now I’m not saying that the more advanced nutritional strategies don’t have their place, of course they do, but I favour a simpler approach for people starting out.
Below I have listed my six simple rules which address some of the common mistakes I see when people try to get their nutrition on track.
1- Don’t starve yourself
Now this might sound counter intuitive but in my opinion, allowing yourself to get hungry is one of the biggest enemies for fat loss. As our blood sugar levels drop so does our ability to make sensible food choices and it’s not even your fault. Our bodies are clever machines, it wants to maintain balance and when our blood sugar levels drop too low it wants to re establish balance by making you crave sugar and quickly. It doesn’t want to have to digest a sweet potato it wants simple sugars that will solve the problem quickly. By eating regularly throughout the day and stabilising blood sugar levels you can avoid those unwanted cravings that can ruin your progress. Please note: This is not an open invite to eat like a pig, you still need to monitor overall consumption of food.
2- Get enough protein
Having analysed over 200 food diaries protein I can safely say that far too many people under consume protein. Now protein isn’t all about building muscle it is also vitally important for our immune system and detoxification, both of which you want to be strong and healthy in your pursuit for health and strength. My general rule of thumb is 1.5g/per KG BW for females and 2g/per KG BW for men. Of course this is a moving target and will depend greatly on other aspects of you nutrition but this acts as a great starting point.
3- Drink plenty of water
Hydration is vitally important for your health, physique and performance. We have easy access to it yet its not uncommon for me to hear “I only drink 1 litre a day” – What, where, why?!!! Why would you deny yourself of water. A reduction in hydration not only decreases performance, but it increases your risk of injury dramatically. 75-80% of water is stored in the muscle so if your serious about getting in better shape you need to be drinking water and plenty of it. My general rule of thumb is 1 litre for every 25kg of bodyweight.
4- Get your fibre
Along with protein, fibre is also hugely under eaten for the majority. Fibre is essential for health, it helps keep our digestive system healthy and allow us to get rid of waste from our bodies. My recommendations for fibre are between 25g-35g for most people, now if your eating mainly processed foods then this isn’t going to be an easy target to hit so ensure you are getting enough fibrous veg and high fibre grains throughout the day.
5- Eat plenty of veg
I like to see a lot of veg when I look at someone’s food diary. In my opinion you can’t get enough, they are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, not to mention fibre, and unfortunately a salad for lunch and some broccoli with dinner isn’t going to cut it. I like to set people a challenge to eat 500g of veg a day, for me, this is still on the low side and shouldn’t be that hard yet most people really struggle with this. Give this a try and see how much better you feel for it.
6- Don’t be too restrictive
Contrary to popular belief fat loss doesn’t have to mean restrictive. Yes we want to make sure the majority of your nutrition comes from good quality sources but allow a little wiggle room for the stuff you enjoy. It’s all about moderation and having an evening or two a week when you allow yourself a little treat can go a long to keeping you on track on the other days and from my experience over restrictive diets are unsustainable and make you miserable to be around.
Most of this should be common sense but still I see people failing to meet these standards. You have to walk before you can run, so focus on the basics before you jump on the next diet craze. Doing the basics day in day out is great recipe for success and achieving your goals.