As the athletes take a well-earned break and are probably nursing a sore head this morning I want to talk a little bit about nutrition. I'd just like to start by stating that I'm not a qualified nutritionist. I completed modules in my University Degree that covered nutrition and take a serious interest in the area, often reading articles and journals in an attempt to keep up with the latest research that would look to enhance my knowledge and reputation as a personal trainer. I believe that it's the cornerstone of any indivduals program and is just as important as the strength and conditioning aspect. I like the anaolgy that you can't put diesel in a petrol car.
I hate the word 'diet.' When people talk about going on a certain diet I believe that it sets themselves up for failure. Often these diets are extreme and completely change an individuals regular eating habits, forcing them to go 'cold turkey' and as a result the diet is not sustainable. The Atkins diet, The Calorie Counting Diet, The Weight Watchers Diet, the Lighter-Life Diet etc etc the list is endless. Often individuals see results during the first couple of weeks on a specific diet as they are 100% committed to the cause, but as time progresses the likelihood is that people start to fall off the track and go back to their old ways. Not to mention, these fad diets are nutritionally inadequate.
I believe nutrition should be build around principles. Principles allow variety but also give certain boundaries that should avoid being crossed (90% of the time). With the accessibilty in todays supermarkets of such a range of fruit, vegetables, meats, fish, nuts, pulses and certain grains from different cultures. It would be a travesty to limit the intake of such great fresh produce.
I'm not going to bore you with and endless list of do's and don'ts, instead four simple principles that allow freedom and choice in your daily nutrition.
1) Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods have changed from their original state. They contain high amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat and often are laden with refined carbohydrates that have no nutritional benefit. The ease of 'cooking' these processed products might seem an attraction but with an increasing amount of research showing that processed foods can lead to an increased risks of elevated blood pressure and cholestral levels and cancer forming properties, I'd advise everyone to stay well clear and focus on eating freshly prepared meals which boast a nutritionally dense profile.
2) Consume Protein with Every Meal
Protein is a powerful macro-nutrient. It acts as the building block for the formation and re-development of muscle cells. It's also a natural thermogenic which means that it contains fat burning properties. As the protein requires more energy to get broken down than carbohydrate and fat. It also keeps you fuller for longer so it helps to stop those dreaded sweet cravings. Perfect examples are lean meats such as chicken and turkey, eggs, nuts and fish.
3) Drink Plenty of Water
The consumption of water is essential for daily living. It makes up roughly 80 percent of the body's make-up. There is conflicting research out there about the total amount of water an individual should drink over the course of the day, ranging from 2 litres to a litre for every 50lbs of bodyweight. All I would say is that everyone needs to drink more of the stuff, it will help cleanse the liver and improve kidney function. Drink preferably from a glass bottle due to rising oestrogen levels through plastic bottles which can affect your hormonal balance. I would suggest having a bottle at work and look to get through at least 2 litres during your working day.
4) Eat a large variety of Vegetables
Fresh vegetables are hugely important. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants helping to fend off disease and shed bodyfat. Green leafy veggies are your best bet. Nutritionally dense and contain something called indole-3-carbinol which helps to fend off unwanted high levels of oestrogen which can cause an accumulation of bodyfat so stock up on brocolli, kale, cabbage, spinach and sprouts (not just for xmas).
Just four simple principles which I believe will result in a far more effective nutritional plan than any fad diet. All are easily attainable, so go out and give it a try and apply it to your daily food intake. I'll leave you with an amusing video of our London Mayor... he could definitely do with applying the four principles of nutrition..