Let’s start with this… THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG BLOG! Not to mention the video and article links, so read some, save it and come back later for more. Then come back again.. And maybe one more time. Like nutrition, this blog read also requires effort.
We are now in the midst of the holiday season and in the coming weeks many of us may set New Years resolutions or at least take look back at the past year, what we’ve accomplished and maybe where we want to go from here. For whatever the place you are in life and whatever the goals you may set out to succeed keeping the body functioning smoothly and keeping the mind active will surely play a role in those aspirations. So, let’s touch on nutrition.
In order to operate the heavy machinery that is our bodies and minds, we must fuel it… That means FOOD!
In last week’s “Part 1 of 2” blog I mentioned to cruise some internet blogs, which I hope you did. Now, let’s take some of that as motivating ideas for change, ditch the bullshit and actually learn or do something of quality for ourselves.
Here is a video link to NUTRITION 101 (75min) for those that want to get a more detailed understanding the fundamentals. Take an hour and watch this bad boy. It is excellent! But for know, continue reading…
Why does what we eat matter?
- Mental – a well balanced diet or nutrition plan made up of whole foods can aid to keep the mind sharp, keep stress levels manageable and simply be a positive reinforcer to a healthy lifestyle. You already knew that probably but if it interests you, google it and some of the studies being done in the area.
- Physical – we are what we eat, or something like that. If we load up on processed foods, sugars, starches and do so without a relative amount of physical activity – we’re going to feel like garbage, inside and out. You already knew or have felt that too.
- Performance & Energy Levels – when we eat, we get insulin spikes and at some point our body needs to work back to equilibrium; that means low energy crashes. We can use a nutrition strategy to better plan and pair moderate insulin spike with natural energy fluctuations through the day, as well as incorporate that around our exercise regime to optimize performance. You at least had a hunch on this, there are a slew of performance and dietary blogs and studies out there. Read a couple when you have time.
Whether you want to simply live a healthy life style and feel good or have specific goals or weight loss, muscle gain, body fat percentage, etc. finding a stable, well-rounded nutrition plan that adapts to both your goals and lifestyle is important.
Here’s a link to some fish-oil advice as well. https://www.healthambition.com/best-fish-oil-weight-loss/
Before I give my two-cents of experience, here’s a link (to more links) from some of our friends in-the-know over at CrossFit Winnipeg. I ran through these links and articles a few years back and they serve as a great resource for anyone starting out.
Let me start this off by saying a few things…
- Sustained weight loss and/or weight management takes effort.. A LOT of effort. It’s a progressive change in eating habits, lifestyle and mentality. Those that have had long-term or sustained success know the struggle. If this is something you want, you’ve got to work at it – and it can even because, dare I say, “fun”?
- “I want to get stronger” – that’s awesome but also consider relative strength to body weight. Strength gains are not just the pounds you can lift, speed you can run, etc. compared to a previous day. It can also be looked at by taking those two elements and dividing by a relative factor (body weight, distance, time, etc.). So, when you’re shedding pounds don’t just look at the overall numbers but consider them relative to control factors. There’s a reason why the Olympics and other professional strength intensive sports have weight classes. It makes sense.
Nutrition Programs or “Diets”
Now, here we go… these are very broad and uber simplistic overviews of three selected nutition programs that I have some experience with. What’s below is here to present some options and alternatives for those who are looking for a place to start or to get some links to more info. If you want to know more.. ask, do some research or experiment – it’s part of the process and a little “fun”.
There are three nutrition/diet plans I will mention, two of which I am highly supportive of and one of which that I believe to be the most personalized and adaptable across our greater community. They are the Paleo, Zone and various Macro-nutrient programs respectively.
Great concept but tough to stick to. Particularly for athletes.
Eating whole foods that our ancestors who have eaten prior to the commercialization of processed foods. Heavy on natural fats and proteins, low on carbohydrates. Personal experience: great for leaning out and challenging yourself, low on energy and requires some real attention to detail in order to stay on 100% and not be somewhat malnourished. I know many who have success with it and certainly has some merit.
Consistency and supportive to an active lifestyle. Weigh and measure everything.
Breaking fats, proteins and carbohydrates into “blocks”, calculating your daily/weekly needs and dividing your blocks accordingly around your lifestyle. Weigh and measure everything to balance you macro nutrients. Supported by Crossfit HQ and many top level athletes. My experience: excellent results in terms of weight management, meal flexibility and consistency. Easy to stay on track but does require some initial weighing and measuring of regular foods to dial the portions in. You get to eat enough of everything and feel good doing it.
For more info: http://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/enter-the-zone/
Calculated, adaptable, personalized.
Calculating YOUR macro nutrient needs based on YOUR lifestyle, goals and exercise needs. Macro programs are built for your body and your needs. There are some sites, programs and even communities online that can help analyze and build a program for you. Food is considered fuel and they definitely have the most flexibility as to what you eat, when you eat, etc. as well as coordinating it with your goals and activity level.
Example: someone eating for extreme weight-loss, weight-gain or athletic performance will have drastically different overall volume of food but the macro content and variety may still be similar.
My experience is that you need to have some flexibility for days when you activity levels are higher or lower than average; and frankly, when your body says,”I need fast acting carbohydrates for post-performance, recovery or to load up for an upcoming meet, competition, etc. ” you need to listen to your body and give it what it needs. If not, other things will fall off mentally and physically. This is (opinion) the best overall platform for establishing a nutrition plan to meet your goals and adapt to your lifestyle.
For more info I highly recommend doing some reading on the Eat To Perform website. They have a well established community of dedicated people with a variety of weight-loss, weight management and perform needs that follow their programs. http://www.eattoperform.com/
They also have a BMR calculator to get you started http://staging.eattoperform.com/eat-to-perform-calculator/
Need More Help or Advice
In addition to this blog and the links provided, feel free to reach out to myself or others in the CFC community who have some experience in the field. Building a support system and have others to talk, share successes/failures or recipes is an awesome way to stay motivated and accountable. We may not have nutrition degrees or certifications but…
- We know people that do and can forward you on to them if you need or want professional help that we can’t otherwise provide.
- We know about dedication, work ethic and having a community
- After a decade of personal experience with weight loss programs and more recently weight management and performance based planning, you shouldn’t have to go through the same pains and failures.
Some Personal Experience
Tips and Tricks
There are a couple of things that have worked well for me over the years, that have now become staples in my daily and weekly nutrition schedule.
- Make every meal something you enjoy and look forward to. If at least some part of the meal(s) is not appetizing, it’s not going to last. Experiment with different combination of foods and whenever in doubt, just add bacon, almond butter and/or honey. Train your brain to like new things.
- Have a level of flexibility worked in for when life throws you a curve ball in your daily routine. Try to have an easy go-to snack at the office or better a portable meal that doesn’t need refrigeration, a bag of apples in the fridge, tin of almonds at the office or some protein or meal bars in your desk or car.
- Prepare your week like the zombie apocalypse may actually happen. Make a trip to the store, buy some fresh chicken or meat, toss it in a marinade right away and take the 10min to cook it. If you buy it, you wont let yourself let it go bad.
- Chill out once in a while. Have some dessert, wine or whatever and set yourself free. If you don’t you’ll be terrible to be around and probably start to hate the program you’re on. You shouldn’t, you should love it. You should want to share your successes with other and strive to continuously adapt it to your life and level of happiness. It should not be “a program” it should just become what you do.
Eating for Performance
I need to touch on this for a second, so bare with me. What is eating for performance?
- It is fueling or refueling your body for an upcoming or from a past physical activity that required an abnormal amount of energy usage – such as a competition, high volume training session, game-day, extensive aerobic activity.
- It is not neglecting your performance during exercise or physical activity performance by being malnourished.
- It is being smart, preparing for the task at hand and optimizing recovery thereafter. It is listening to you body and enjoying the growth and development process.
You only get an hour (if that) probably to exercise with intent and intensity a few times a weak, so make it count and perform at your optimum level. If you deplete the energy storage in your system, it needs to be replenished. Also, if you anticipate an activity requiring abnormal amount go energy usage – FUEL UP.
That being said, what defines “performance” varies between goals, activities and individuals. And whatever your defined performance is should also align with some level of happiness or satisfaction in yourself. For some that is physical appearance, physique, weight-loss or weight management; for others its energy output, overall level of fitness, muscle gain or strength output at a targeted meet or competition. Eating for optimal performance in these categories can differ drastically. Not to mention that performance itself is a state and can have a defined start and end. So, many will move in and out of a variety of nutrition stages.
- For short term physique, weight-loss goals, etc. performance may be defined as appearance, body fat percentage, weight. Therefore, the focus or needs of the nutrition plan would be quite different from say one who is focused on muscle mass gain or strength building. For these individuals, volume of work, strength output rather then appearance would be defined of performance . They would then be fueling to optimize muscular hypertrophy and recovery, likely less emphasis on lean eating and more focused on preparation before and after specific training sessions.
- For active competitors, performance is defined as output on game day. So they may incorporate phases of what’s written above when in their training or skill development phases and something drastically difference approaching “game-day” depending on the competition such as bodybuilding, marathon runners, weightlifters, other fitness or sport athletes all with different levels of physical and nutrition requirements for “game-day”.
So when you see or hear of someone doing something out of the norm in terms of diet or eating, it’s likely just a different stage, goal, mindset, etc. that they’re in. And it’s fine. Ask them about it, be interested in different outlooks and varieties. The more you’re exposed to, the more informed you are, the better you will be at you’re own nutrition planning – should you wish to have one. Some don’t and that’s their prerogative.
Nutrition should be fun, have a purpose and be conducive to your overall level of fitness, lifestyle and happiness.
Let’s make that happen this year.