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3 strategies to improve your nutrition

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Intro

Nutrition is probably the area where I focus most with my clients for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, a lot of people struggle with their food intake either with eating the right foods or the right amounts of those foods. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t feel like your nutrition is quite right, you are definitely not alone. Most people find training 3/4 times per week easier than the food side of things.



The second reason I spend more of my time talking to clients about nutrition than training or mindset is because it is so crucial to success. I’m not saying training and mindset aren’t key to reaching your goals by any means but without having nutrition in a good spot, it is going to be pretty much impossible to progress towards a goal of weight loss, muscle growth or improved performance.


Strategy 1 – Track your food intake

“What’s measured improves” – if something isn’t being measured, it’s difficult to know how to improve it and that is definitely the case when it comes to our diets. If you don’t eat consistently from day-to-day and your diet is completely sporadic, it is difficult to gauge exactly how it could be improved.

One of the ways to add some consistency to your diet is to track your food intake throughout the day, using an app such as MyFitnessPal.



MyFitnessPal enables you to add recipes and meals while you can also scan barcodes or search their database to easily look up food. All of this means that you can easily track your food intake day-to-day to see how many calories you take on and how those calories breakdown from a macronutrient perspective.

I’m not saying that tracking food intake is right for everyone by any means and even for those who track regularly, taking a break from it once in a while is recommended.

However – when clients start training with Onside PT, I do like them to track for a while so we can get a steer on how they eat and what adjustments we need to make to help them to reach their goals.


Strategy 2 – Don’t aim to be perfect

Perfect diets don’t exist and trying to be perfect isn’t realistic or attainable when you have other things to focus on aside from nutrition.

I therefore don’t expect my clients to be perfect when it comes to nutrition – we aim to make good choices 80-90% of the time. That basically means choosing options which are going to move us towards our goals as frequently as possible. In the remaining 10-20% of the time, there is a bit of scope to make choices which are less optimal.

This approach means that a client is making great choices the vast majority of the time but they aren’t expected to be perfect. If you aim to be perfect and don’t reach that level (which you won’t) then you’re going to get disappointed and feel like you’ve failed.

In reality, we don’t need to be perfect some of the time, we just need to be good consistently to get solid results. There’ll naturally be some poor days of nutrition along the way but that’s to be expected.



Strategy 3 – Focus on the most important factors

It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail when it comes to most things in life, including nutrition. Instead, ensure you get the basics right first and foremost and then build from there.



There are a number of schools of thought when it comes to what the most important factors in our diets are – the above model is from the BTN Academy (one of the leading providers of nutrition coaching courses in the UK).


As you can see, the most important factors when it comes to good nutrition are:

  • Dietary adherence – having a nutritional plan and adhering to it is key. Without having a nutrition strategy in place, the rest of the pyramid doesn’t stack up.

  • Calorie balance – the amount of calories you take in is either going to cause you to lose weight, remain at the same weight or gain weight. Nothing above calorie balance on the pyramid is worth focusing on if you can’t nail your overall calorie intake.

  • Macronutrient intake, food choices – next up is a focus on macronutrients – how many of your calories come from proteins, carbs and fats? Ensuring your food choices deliver a macronutrient intake which is optimal for your goals is important, with protein being the most crucial of the macros.

  • Fibre intake, micronutrient intake, hydration – this level again addresses the decisions you make in regard to food. With my clients I encourage them to choose whole foods, prioritise lean protein choices and take on plenty of fruit and veg to ensure sufficient micronutrients are included within the diet. We also have daily fibre and water targets to ensure those boxes are ticked too.

Get the above factors right first and foremost, and then worry about things like supplements and when to eat certain types of food.


Summary

Nutrition is the foundation to getting results, especially when your goal is related to body composition. Don’t overlook your food choices and don’t try to out train a bad diet.

Tracking your food can either be an informative process or a strategy to take your nutrition to the next level. With tracking just keep in mind that you’ll need some breaks and try not to become too obsessive – which leads me to my next point…

Yes, nutrition is important but we don’t need to aim for perfection, that’s not going to be attainable. Instead, aim to make largely good choices and cut yourself some slack the rest of the time.

Finally – focus on the foundations first and build from there. There’s no point investing hundreds of pounds into supplements if the core of your diet isn’t right in terms of calories and macronutrients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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