In a world filled with Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, paleo, keto, clean eating, and vegan programs, we are flooded with information on what to eat, who to join and how much to lose. I get asked all the time what I think of ____ diet or ____ way of eating, or which nutrition plan ____ should be following. And I answer the same way EVERY SINGLE TIME: that depends. See what people often fail to realise is there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach in the world of health and fitness. Why you ask? There are just too many factors involved for it to be that black and white. What do you like to eat? What do you dislike putting on your plate? What is your history with eating? What do your genetics show? What are your current and past medical conditions? Where are your fitness levels at? What are your goals? And on and on and on.
As an online health coach, I work with individuals to find what type of nutrition works best for them. I encourage them to try new ways of eating. To explore food sensitivities and to do lots of trial and error while learning to listen to their bodies. The benefit of testing out many different ways of eating is you first hand figure out what your body and mind need, want and like. But the reality also lies in the fact that the majority of people don’t want to trial different ways of eating. So, what do I do with those clients? I encourage flexible nutrition planning with a strong focus on real food eating. It’s not rocket science. It’s what I call the basics meet boundaries approach. And there is proof behind the pudding.
So how can someone get on the flexible real food eating train? Here’s 6 ways to get you prepped and understanding some basic steps to get you started:
1. Track what you eat as a short-term tool. Apps such as my fitness pal are great tools to check in with your eating as often we think we are eating less or more than we really are. Tracking can help create awareness of portions, macro breakdowns (protein/carbs/fats) and calorie needs.
2. Eat more carbs on workout days. Carbs are fuel. So, eat a higher carb diet on your workouts days. The longer your physical activity the more carbs you require. Think good quality carbs such as fruit, oats, quinoa, potatoes and rice.
3. Eat the majority of your carbs before and after your workouts. Carbs are fuel for your training and the best times to have the majority of them are before and after your workouts. Think fueling and replenishing.
4. Decrease your fat intake on higher carb days. When you aren’t training, your carb intake should be lower and replacing this with extra healthy fats will ensure you have the energy you need to feel great.
5. Focus on a solid protein base. Protein is an important building block to staying healthy, building muscle, repairing the body, and staying lean. How much you need will depend on a few factors but overall everyone should focus on having quality meats, beans, and legumes on your plate for every meal to ensure they are getting filled and fueled with enough protein.
6. Eat 80-90% real food (one ingredient lists). Real food fuels are body best. Focus on this and the rest is yours to determine. The flexible piece means choose what works for you and your body.
Dieting doesn’t need to be complex, restrictive or unhealthy. As a health coach I focus on healthy, sustainable nutrition and habits that work best for the individual. Start with one step above and slowly add in any of the other six. Watch your attitude about food transform and your nutrition be built on basic principles with the flexibility to allow for freedoms to eat the things you love. Still interested in hearing more about carb cycling and keto specific diets? Watch my LIVE Q & A on our Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/moveeatplay) for great dialogue.