How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Nutrition has truly become a source of fascination for our society. This is excellent news, really, because it means most of us are interested in improving our diet, overall health, energy levels, and physique.
However, when I begin nutritional coaching with athletes and clients, something very interesting happens. I learn about the assumptions, or beliefs that they have. Generally speaking, people make several assumptions:
- In order to achieve success in the gym, on the field, or to lose body fat, anything resembling 'junk food' must be eliminated entirely and somehow avoided forever.
- That a certain level of starvation must occur to reach their goals (when preparing for a figure show, many people ask me if lettuce is all that I eat).
- That 'willpower' is required in abundance in order to eat well, and that they lack this 'willpower'.
- That a healthy diet means no fat, no sugar, no alcohol, no cheese, no fun.....
And the good news?? None of the points above are correct. I am not invalidating anyone's belief system here, I am simply informing you that a great nutrition plan must include everything from eggs, to meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, deserts, treats, sugar, cheese, dairy, and the occasional alcoholic beverage.
That's what this article is about – how to have your cake and eat it too!
To improve your diet, begin by asking “what can I add to my meals that will make this a better plan”, as opposed to “what can I take out in order to lose weight”. The reasoning for this is simple – most of you need to make additions to your diet rather than eliminating foods. Deficiencies of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are all too common, thus the last thing people need is to remove more.
Begin by following these guidelines (these are a few of the nutritional habits developed by Dr. John Berardi)
- Eat every 2-3 hours, rather than 2-3 'square' meals/day
- Every meal and snack must contain healthy fats (nuts, nut butters, seeds, olive oil, flax oil, flax seeds, avocado, and fish oils are examples of healthy fats).
- Every meal and snack must contain a protein source (cottage cheese, protein powder, lean meat, eggs, home-made hummus, and yogurt are examples of protein sources that can be eaten alone or combined with protein powder)
- Save grains and 'treats' for the time period directly after weight training or sport practice. If you like pasta, save it for your first meal after exercise. Like chocolate cake? Great – have a piece after your workout. These types of food are tolerated much better by your body after exercise than if you have not exercised. Tolerated means you are less likely to gain body fat as a result of eating them. If you haven't exercised, no chocolate cake for you!
By following these 4 habits consistently, you will notice changes in your energy levels during the day, feel that your clothing fits better, and as a result will feel an improvement in your health.
Thus, one of the ways you can have your cake and eat it too, while reaching all goals related to your fitness and health – is to save certain foods for that time period after exercise (preferably weight training).
If you are interested in learning more about the above habits, and learning the others, check out Dr. Berardi's nutritional education system, Precision Nutrition.
If you feel you've got a handle on healthy eating and just want more variety and recipes to choose from, Gourmet Nutrition will be a great resource for you.
Enjoy your training and gourmet desserts afterwards!