This article is designed to give you knowledge on general nutrition in order for you to achieve a healthy well balanced diet. The fundamental components of Wellness are regular physical activity, correct nutrition and a positive mental attitude, as illustrated in the diagram below.
Top nutrition tips
- Try to consume a balanced diet. Include protein/fat/carbs into every meal.
- Keep a food diary. You can use this to try and improve meal timings as well as getting in your ‘5 a day’ (alternatively, visit myfitnesspal.com to help you track your daily intake).
- Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
- Be ‘sugar’ aware – more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g means the food is high in sugar, while 5g of total sugars or less per 100g means the food is low in sugar.
- Be aware of misleading claims – for example fad diets and products such as weight loss drinks which are basically just laxatives!
Foods to moderate
You don’t have to completely give up your favourite foods to lose weight!
Everything in moderation is the key. Allow yourself treats, snacks & ‘bad’ foods. This will help you adhere to a balanced lifestyle and
increase the longevity of it.
Be aware of ‘invisible’ calories that you wouldn’t usually take into consideration in your daily allowance. For example, cooking oil is very high in calories (1 tablespoon is 119 calories), while milk and sugar in a cup of tea can take you up to 50kcals a drink.
Try to become aware and make healthy alterations where possible. For example you can buy low cal frying spray at 1kcal a spray or rapeseed oil, which are healthier alternatives – but use sparingly.
- Use a smaller plate. It makes a smaller portion look BIGGER!
- Use measuring cups. Measuring out your food will help you get to know portion sizes for different foods. Once you are familiar you will be able to do it without measuring.
- Be selective with ‘second helpings.’ Do you really need another helping? Give it 20 minutes and see if you are still hungry.
- Avoid nibbling on leftovers. Wrap them up and save for another meal or throw them away!
- Check food labels – know what portion the nutritional information on the front of the pack refers to, it might be different to what you expect.
- Drink water before eating. Are you hungry or just thirsty?
- Refer to the Eatwell plate (see below) when serving up your food. Eat foods from each group on the eatwell plate in the correct amounts each day.
Calorie intake and weight management
To lose weight you need to make sure that you remain in a calorie deficit (your food intake is less than your energy expenditure). However, this doesn’t mean you should drastically reduce your calorie intake to levels that will compromise your daily quality of life. Always make sure you consume above your Basal metabolic rate and adequately fuel your body for the day’s workouts and tasks. Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest.
- We should be drinking 2 + litres of water per day (which is about 8-10 glasses). Sometimes when you’re hungry you’re in fact thirsty, try drinking water before you consume unnecessary calories.
- Water in food also counts – fruit and vegetables contain lots of water. Cucumber and lettuce have the highest water content of any food – a massive 96%. Tomatoes are also packed with water – about 94%. Keep your hydration levels topped up by adding them to a salad or a sandwich.
- Water intake is more crucial than people think. Simply by staying hydrated you can improve performance, increase energy levels & brain function, prevent & cure headaches.
Supplements broken down
Do I need a protein shake?
What do they do? When do I use them?
Acknowledge protein intake. This is the staple to muscle development and muscle repair.
If you want to build muscle, protein is very important. According to the NHS, adults should eat 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, if you are exercising and weight training regularly, you should increase the amount of protein you eat, to help aid muscle recovery and growth. If your aim is to build muscle, you should be looking to eat around 1.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. It can be difficult to meet your protein intake goals from food alone, and this is where protein powder can be the perfect addition to your diet. Opt for cold processed whey protein and be careful to avoid heat treated alternatives.
Creatine has been proven to help increase muscle size, as well as increasing overall strength and energy levels. It is an ideal supplement for anyone performing exercises which involve short bursts of high intensity activity, such as weight lifting or sprinting. Creatine is a great supplement to take either pre or post workout, and can be easily mixed into your protein shake or taken on its own. To achieve the benefits of supplementing with creatine, it is recommended to take 5g a day, after a loading week of taking 20g a day.
Branched chain amino acids (BCCAs) are the essential building blocks of muscle. BCAAs help the body maintain muscle mass by preventing a process known as catabolism. This is when the body breaks down muscle to use as energy. You can supplement with BCAAs pre, intra or post workout, or even just sip them throughout the day.
Pre workouts are often high in caffeine to provide a short burst of energy, ideal for high intensity workouts. Pre Workouts can contain around 200mg of caffeine per serving to make sure you enter the gym ready for your training.
If you are weight training regularly, you will be breaking down muscle fibres. Protein contributes to muscle growth and repair. When you sleep, you go for a number of hours without eating anything. This can lead to the breakdown of muscle, over a long period of time, as your body still requires energy for normal bodily function, even when you are asleep. By supplementing with casein, you can provide your body with a slow releasing protein source, whilst your body is fasted.