This is a guest post from Austin Thomas, MS, RDN, LDN. Austin is the owner of Keystone Nutrition, LLC. She is a fellow athlete, cancer survivor, advocate of healthy living and living life to its fullest. You can follow Austin on Keystone Nutrition, LLC and Instagram.
You have a great workout routine, you’re going to the gym regularly and you’re seeing improvements in your fitness, but how do you get to that next level? What is your daily routine missing? Many athletes – from crossfitters to endurance athletes – negate the importance nutrition plays in their performance, body composition goals and overall fitness. So what is the best diet to supplement with your workout program? Is there a one size fits all diet? In this two part series, I’ll touch upon the general rules of thumb that can apply to all athletes and fitness enthusiasts and then delve into some more specifics of healthy diets for different goals.
Everyone is unique, and each person will have different diets based on their health, fitness and physical performance goals. However, there are some general “rules” that apply across the board. Clean. Simple. Balanced. These are the guidelines I provide my clients and patients when giving nutrition advice and provide the outline for simple lifestyle changes that you can put into effect today!
CLEAN. Make sure you eat foods that aren’t dirty (just kidding!). Think about what you put into your body within the last 24 hours – how much of it came from a package with a nutrition label on it? If it did, how many ingredients were in it that had more than two syllabus? Eating clean just means eating food in its most natural state possible – free of preservatives, additives, or, my favorite, “other natural flavors.” It is great that technology and advancement in science has given us the ability to feed a larger population at a lower cost, but with it, a decline in our overall health has been a consequence. If you look back to the 1950s when the United States was first becoming heart health conscious and we started playing around with our food, taking out fat and adding chemicals, the incidence of heart disease and obesity actually increased! There is some evidence now that altering our food also has some links to hormonal and mental health issues as well (a topic for another day). I personally challenge you to commit to just 14 days of CLEAN eating. No specific guidelines, just no additives, preservatives, added sugars or pesky ingredients you have trouble pronouncing. This will help make you more conscious of exactly what you are fueling your body with on a daily basis.
SIMPLE. This guideline goes directly hand in hand with the concept of CLEAN eating. How often do you go out to eat and you honestly don’t know what ingredients are in your dish? What type of sauces and condiments do you use when you eat at home or in the office? Food tastes great all on its own! Help your body remember what real food tastes like in its purest form. This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the use of spices, herbs or seasonings, in fact there are many benefits to consuming certain spices and herbs! Besides the occasional treat, the food that you consume should provide the biggest bang for your buck. There is so much more to food than just calories, they provide vitamins, minerals and necessary nutrients for your body to perform to its ultimate potential. When you digest extra sugar, ridiculous amounts of salt, hidden MSG, etc. you are only inhibiting yourself from reaching your desired goals. By keeping ingredients that you cook with SIMPLE, you are ensuring that there is a benefit of the food you are consuming rather than just adding empty calories.
BALANCED. Our bodies need both a certain amount of macro and micronutrients on a daily basis. This can be easily done without even knowing what a macro or micronutrient actually is! When choosing what to eat for your meal, it is always smart to make sure that you have either a vegetable or fruit (more veggies than fruit), a good protein source such as eggs, chicken, fish, tempeh etc, and a healthy fat such as olive oil, avocado or almonds. Throughout the day you can supplement your meals with a small amount of healthy starches such as starchy veggies, like sweet potatoes, whole/unprocessed grains such as quinoa, oatmeal, barley, etc. BALANCED is the one guideline that will vary the most when it comes to serving sizes and amount of each of these food groups that a person should consume based on specific goals. Stay tuned for Part 2! In the mean time, slowly start applying these guidelines to your daily routine…I’d love to hear feedback on how/if making these changes positively impacts your life!
Yours in health,
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