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Fuel your Fitness - Nutrition Tips you need to know

By Colin McEndoo of Irish Fitness

1. Don’t go to extremes

I’m writing this in January, so we’re currently being bombarded with crash diets from every direction. These range from the impossible to the downright dangerous. Though they may work in the short term, the research suggests that in the medium to long term you’ll be right back to where you started or be sensible.

2. Energy balance

There’s no way around this one unfortunately, if you want to lose fat then your energy in (food and drink) should be less than your energy out (think energy required to keep you alive and all the activity you do on top of that). This doesn’t mean counting calories each day, but it’s certainly no harm to get an idea of how much (or how little) you eat each day. Online calorie trackers and apps make this pretty easy.

3. Cut the crap

If you can pull off this step then most people probably won’t need to go much further. Processed foods are usually where you’ll find most people go astray. In the majority of cases they tend to be loaded with sugar and/or trans-fats and consequently easily devoured calories! It’s entirely possible to take in 1000cals or more in less than 10mins eating. Make these a rare treat and you’ll see results in terms of body composition and energy throughout the day.

4. What do I eat then?

Following on from the previous point, once you’ve limited your processed foods, you should be left with wholefoods, you know, foods you never see advertised on television. Meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, some dairy and nuts and oils. There are endless possibilities when it comes to recipes for all this, so get creative and make it tasty.

5. Protein Power

For various reasons, past the remit of this article, protein is an essential nutrient. It’s not just the building blocks for growth and repair, but it’s the most satiating macro-nutrient. This simply means that this will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Think about eating 5 chicken breasts compared with 5 chocolate it? A simple strategy is to eat your proteins and vegetables before anything else in your meals.

6. Make it as easy as possible

As with exercise, the key to obtaining your goals is consistency and for that you must enjoy what you’re doing or in this case eating. Obviously if fat loss is your goal some willpower is certainly required...but you’ll never stick with a plan that includes foods you simply don’t like. Pick some whole foods you enjoy eating and experiment with combinations and different cooking methods.

7. Eat to your schedule

Again key to success is to make your nutrition plan as simple as possible. The nutrition world is full of myths, we all know the ‘never eat carbs after 6pm’ rule right? Well the big trend now is ‘carb back-loading’ which is basically the direct opposite, what can you learn from this? It basically doesn’t matter, what matters most is your overall consumption than when.

8. Eat carbs for fuel

Carbs have been given a bad rap in the media over the last few years, it seems we need to point fingers at something. It used to be fat but that’s all changed now. The best way to think about Carbohydrates is to eat according to your activity levels that day. More activity = more carbs. Lying on the couch or sitting at a desk for the day...then you’re carbohydrate (and calorie) needs decrease.

9. Fat is not the enemy

Fats have previously been demonised in nutrition due to it’s supposed link to heart disease, however we now know it’s not quite that simple. We know that certain fats are essential for health, and should be included in everyone’s diet. The quantity however, is hotly debated all over the internet. For the sake of simplicity to cover your bases try to include some nuts/seeds, some olive oil and avocado’s on a regular basis.

10. Eat for your goals

Everyone has different goals and objectives so this will be different for everyone, if you need to add weight/muscle then you’ll have to eat a lot more than you would if you were trying to lose it. Be under no illusion though that the best exercise for fat loss is table push-aways!

11. Be prepared

Within the guidelines above, make your plan failsafe and pre-prepare as much food as you can ahead of time. Tupperware containers and batch cooking are your friends. This means you always have an option to steer you from that microwave meal for lunch!

12. Don’t beat yourself up

If you slip up don’t worry too much about it. A common mistake is having something like a biscuit, thinking you’ve blown everything and then eating the whole rest of the packet. What was a tiny blip has now turned into more of an issue, so take it easy on yourself.