Nutrition Basics

Whether you want to be the best at your gym, or reach for national selection, getting the foundations of a good diet is paramount to maximising your potential.

If you want to become outstanding, you have no option but to give attention to every aspect of factors that affect your body, training, recovery and competition. What you eat, everyday, affects all of these.

To be the best, and to give yourself the best chance of success, you must take nutrition seriously. ALL of the most successful athletes do. ALL have nutrition as a priority.

Saracens Strength & Conditioning coach Andy Edwards when asked What’s the most common thing people neglect when training? “Nutrition. If it’s not at least as important as your training programme then you’re approaching it the wrong way.”

Making wholesome and nutritious food choices for most of your meals and snacks can have a profound effect on performance, recovery, body fat and muscle. All too often we are bombarded with confusing and complex messages about diets and nutrition products, from the internet, colleagues and coaches.

So the secret is to keep it simple, you don’t need a lot of fancy or exotic ingredients. Fill your fridge with vegetables, lean meat, eggs and lower fat dairy, and your cupboards with wholesome starchy food and tinned fish, tomatoes, nuts, seeds etc. Frozen vegetables are just as good, and often better nutritionally than fresh.

(If you are in heavy training you will have very high calories needs and will need much more than this, possibly double!)

What does a healthy meal look like? Try this:

veggies

  • 1/2 plate: salad/vegetables/fruit
  • 1/4 plate protein: chicken, pork, beef, fish, beans, lentils
  • 1/4 plate starchy food: potatoes, rice, pasta, quinoa, cous cous, wholemeal bread
  • use oils and oily dressings sparingly

Most people have far too much starchy food eg. big plate pasta, and not enough veg.

How does this translate to real life? Here are some examples…..

Breakfast:

  • Berry Banana Breakfast Bake
  • Granola with milk
  • handful porridge oats, water, milk, berries/raisins

    Nag's muesli

    Homemade muesli

  • 1 wholemeal toast, little bit of butter, 2 boiled/poached/dry fried eggs
  • Natural yoghurt & fruit, 1 toast
  • Homemade muesli
  • Summer oats
  • Shake: milk, spoon of yoghurt, banana/berries, honey
  • 2 Weetabix, milk, banana

Meals:

  • 4 no effort meals
  • Spaghetti bolognaise: 1/4 plate spaghetti, add extra veg to bolognaise (grated carrot, extra tin tomatoes). Serve with side salad or Deidre’s coleslawimage
  • Meatballs in tomato sauce with extra veg & pasta
  • Rice, salmon, carrots & broccoli
  • Wholemeal pitta, tuna mixed with natural yoghurt/light mayo, chopped pepper, spring onion & lettuce
  • 1 wholemeal toast, little bit of butter, 2 boiled/poached/dry fried eggs
  • bowl of salad leaves, grated carrot, peas, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, chopped up chicken or flaked salmon

    image

    wholemeal bread, tuna with light mayo & yoghurt, carrot, spring onion, pepper

  • Super food salad with some chicken/fish
  • Lentil & tomato soup

Snacks (hunger often confused with thirst, so first have a glass water/cup of tea or coffee):

  • Apple & handful almonds
  • Rice cake with peanut butter/quark & small dollop of pesto
  • Homemade flapjack
  • Yoghurt & strawberries image
  • Humous and carrot sticks
  • Glass of milk and banana/raisins
  • Skinny latte & apple

Tips:

  • stick to 1 portion of meals, if still hungry fill up up more veg/fruit
  • avoid creamy sauces, choose tomato/vegetable based ones
  • be aware that oils (yes, even olive oil) has 100kcal per tablespoon. Use but don’t over do it. If eating out, ask for dressing on the side.
  • Be aware that sugary drinks (including pure fruit juice) can add significant calories to your diet. Go for water, tea, coffee, herbal teas, diluted cordial, or diet drinks instead.
  • Drink a large glass of water before a meal
  • Don’t put pot of food on table, serve up in kitchen to avoid picking at extras
  • By all means have ice cream, but not everyday and just a few scoops, not half the tub. Same goes for biscuits, crisps, chocolate, wine, beer etc. Not everyday and control the amounts.
  • Be aware that ‘light’, ‘lite’ or reduced fat doesn’t mean low in fat, just that it is 25% lower than full fat version.
  • Use natural yoghurt instead of mayonnaise,  or mix half yoghurt with half reduced fat mayo
  • If you are at work with limited access to appropriate food choices, bring your own food from home.
  • more tips

I hope some of these ideas may be of use to you. If it all seems a bit too much, just pick one or two ideas each week. Gradual changes that become habit are more likely to be of long term benefit than making massive changes that can be overwhelming.

Mark Twain: Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.

6 thoughts on “Nutrition Basics

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