After being asked to do a nutrition chat (no longer 30 minutes) for a charity event, I was super excited! Problem right there, when I get excited I just babble.
Way too much information thrown in their faces and as I looked around at the confused expressions, I realized I had, once again, word vomited over the lot of them.
So, I have decided to break it down into a blog. Now, when I wrote this it was targeted at people that compete and more specifically, those that do endurance runs. However, it can be applied to anyone who is looking to reign in their nutrition without wanting to spend money on a nutrition coach or spend hours on end reading conflicting information.
I have broken this down to two parts. Firstly, I am going to approach it for an individual who simply wants to get healthy and have a healthier relationship with food (wave goodbye to face diving pizza and ice-cream in a craving for sugar and carbs…..instead let that face dive be because you want it, rather than scratching an itch).
Secondly, I am going to approach those that want to really get into the nitty gritty of it and want to have more of a focus. I recommend part two for those who feel they already apply healthy eating, they feel good but maybe not recovering from the harder sessions, or cant get out of the plateau they are in.
Before I jump in, lets just ask ourselves, why do we even need to think about nutrition? We already exercise lots, we put the work in, we will surely see results soon?
Put simply, no. We all have heard the cheesy slogans (ummmm, cheese) “abs are made in the kitchen” but it is true. If you want the hard work to pay off, you have to apply it, if not more, to what goes in your cakehole.
Reasons? You are what you eat. If you eat cake all day every day, expect to look like a slice.
Some of you wont be bothered by aesthetics, some of you will be looking to gain weight or fuelling hows of hard training. Great! But don’t think that’s ice-cream and chocolate all day (unless you’re looking for type 2 diabetes and be overweight).
Whatever your goal, food is what recovers your muscles, provides vitamins and minerals to rebuild collagen (connective tissue…..simply put, avoid injury), and has your body working as the efficient tool it has the power to be.
Ok, Karrina, we get it. We need to refuel with whole foods, I’m doing paleo, I know all about it. Put down your fork and slap yourself. I am not talking here whole foods…but not potatoes, limited grains, little fruit blah blah bullshit. I am saying that we need a variety of foods, cheese, potatoes, bread, rice (it can be white), fruits (any), meat, fish, etc etc. I do think it depends on what your starting point is, but in general I don’t agree on cutting out food groups (sorry guys, chocolate and crisps aren’t a food group of their own, I’m not talking about sweets). Food is an every day necessity and should fit your lifestyle. If you begin removing or drastically limiting food groups then I believe you are on a diet, and that will be short term, as will your results be.
My exception to this is, if you CRAVE foods such as bread, cheese, biscuits, pasta, then I would cut it out for four weeks and keep it to one night a week (of one meal) a week. Purely because that’s probably your down fall, when you think its only one sandwich a day but when you write down your food diary, turns out you’re hitting up a loaf every two days/ smashing a pack of biscuits a night/ eating a block of cheese in three sittings. Another reason those cravings appear is you might be deficient in a vitamin or mineral and is causing you to crave foods, therefore you may find you can stop at one slice of bread and not have to inhale the loaf once you have got your nutrition in a good rhythm.
Ok, this is how basic it can be.
If you want to know your calorie daily intake, then multiply this per pound of bodyweight.
So, for example, take a 60kg (9.5 stone) woman. Convert her weight to pounds and you have 132 pounds.
Now, say she exercises 3 times a week and is looking for maintenance. Therefore:
14 x 132 = 1,848
And there is her daily calorie intake for those goals. If she began them and started to lose weight (which wasn’t her goal) then all she would need to do is up the number of multiplication to 15 (see table). There is no one rule fits all, we are all made differently, and our metabolisms are different as are genes and body make-up. It may take a little trial and error and seeing what works for you.
Now, how do we break these calories up? How many are carbs, how many are proteins and how many are fats. Here is a simple guide:
Men – per meal (recommended 4 meals a day)
2 Palms size of meat
2 Cupped hands of starchy carbohydrates
2 Fist size serving of vegetables
2 Thumb size serving of fat
Women – per meal (recommended 4 meals a day)
1 Palms size of meat
1 Cupped hands of starchy carbohydrates
1 Fist size serving of vegetables
1 Thumb size serving of fat
Easy as that. No need to complicate it any further.
If you follow this for 4 weeks and feel you require more guidance, then option 2 is for you.
We have our calories (as per above table) but we want more of a breakdown as to how macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) should be part of these calories.
Its not that complicated. I recommend 1.6-2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight and 3g of carbohydrates per kilo.
Therefore, based on our 60kg woman:
1.6 x 60 = 96 (rounded up to 100)
3 x 60 = 180g
Now, we need to convert that to calories. There is 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates.
1.6 x 60 = 100 x 4 = 400 calories
3 x 60 = 180g x 4 = 720 calories.
We wanted to have 1,848 calories for this woman so how many calories does she have left after taking off carbohydrates and protein?
720 + 400 = 1,120
1,848 – 1,120 = 728 calories
Now, this 728 will be our fats. There is 9 calories per 1 gram of protein, therefore:
9/728 = 80g fats
Therefore, our macronutrient breakdown will be:
1,848 calories –
Download an app called Myfitness Pal and start to learn how to hit these numbers. You can input your macros and calories, and you can scan all food. If you are like me and enjoy the same/similar meals day in day out, you can copy meals to the next day.
Below is an example of how I break down each meal.
Now lets talk competitions/endurance running
Firstly, let me just explain the sugar glucose. I’m not going to get too sciency so don’t panic/shut your eyes/ scroll down. Glucose gets turned into glycogen We use glycogen as energy. When we eat, glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and then muscles (with a small percentage going to brain cells)
Now, if we eat a high carb meal and the liver and muscles are full, glucose is streaming through the blood stream. Our bodies release insulin to remove glucose, which increases cortisol and cortisol increases blood sugar. Ever get the crash after eating a Dominos? Now you know why.
One of the most misconceptions is that we only get glycogen stores from carbohydrates. With protein also providing the body with glycogen, those days before competing we don’t just want to carb load. Meals of protein and carbs are ideal, with more carbs than normal. Here are my tips:
Winner winner chicken dinner
Combine the above with 2-3 litres (training days 3, non training days 2) of water a day (just a side note, you are already dehydrated if you get to the point of being thirsty so sip little and often throughout the day as this will affect your performance in the gym), affective training sessions and smart recovery sessions and you will be onto a winner winner chicken dinner!
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