The post is a roundup from some people I respect. They are expert nutrition tips from a nutritionist, dietician and personal trainer:
“Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”
– Sophia Loren
Nutrition; the convoluted, paradoxical, saturated, overcrowded, mind-boggling world where everyone is an expert and Dr Google reigns supreme. Consume only juiced celery for superhuman effects. Shun all dairy, the spawn of Satan. Eat only sugar free, low fat, deep fried, gluten free ancient grains organically sewn by Tibetan monks under a rising moon in Jupiter. Meat only. Meat-less. Paleo, Atkins, carb-free, Keto, vegan, raw, Mediterranean. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Getting back to basics
“Nutrition doesn’t have to be as complex as we’ve been led to believe. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding around nutrition and food and a lot of over complication, especially in a performance capacity,” says accredited Nutritionist and Dietician Jaimee Herbert.
“It’s not necessarily simple and not everyone’s needs are the same, but it doesn’t have to be overly complex. A lot of the time simplifying nutrition and bringing it back to basics is close to the answer.”
From her perspective as a clinician, Jaimee believes a good first port of call is staying away from ‘Dr Google’ and seeking out a trained professional.
“Getting off the internet is a good place to start. While there are some fantastic resources online, there’s also a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there,” she says.
“Everyone has an opinion and now a lot of people can speak like they’re an expert and I think that in itself complicates food so much more than it has to be. I think stripping back to the basics like our wholefoods, our core food groups, your fruit, your vegies, your grains, your protein and dairy or dairy alternatives, is a wonderful base platform. That is the basics of good nutrition and really simple. We can forget about that in an age of information and misunderstanding.”
The energy balance equation
Fit Futures Academy (Educational providers that has courses for Personal Trainers) tutor Nick Parke agrees.
“Dieting can be a challenge for many, especially since there is so much information out there at the moment concerning dieting and the dos and don'ts,” he says.
“Not all of this information is helpful and in many cases, only confuses the issue. We typically refer to misinformation from a dietary standpoint as a fad diet. Fad diets typically are popular for a short period, a craze of sorts, that promotes a ‘quick fix’ and guarantees weight loss for all. Many people then adopt the methodologies associated with these diets and quite a few do successfully lose weight. The reason for the weight loss experienced can be easily explained and could be achieved fairly comfortably regardless of the dietary approach taken by the individual.”
“The reality is that as complex as the human body is, losing, or gaining weight for that matter, is easy to do. Simply put, if you burn more calories than you consume then you will lose weight. If you burn fewer calories than you consume, you will gain weight.
If you burn as many calories as you consume you will maintain your current weight. This is known as the energy balance equation and this equation is universal and works irrespective of the content of your food. Therefore, realistically, any specific dietary approach taken by any individual should be undertaken due to personal preferences and belief systems and/or specific health or dietary requirements likeCrohn'sdisease or lactose intolerance.”
Food as fuel
“From a performance perspective, food should be looked at as a fuel and also as a means of recovery,” Herbert says.
“The standout for misinformation for me in my experience is the misconception around and demonisation of carbohydrates and their role in the body. It’s seen in everyday language and threaded through a lot of peoples’ belief systems, especially when talking about weight loss and management.
Carbohydrate is our main source of energy – it’s our first port of call for fuel. Foods that are high in carbohydrate are recommended to take up a significant part of our diet; the general recommendation is around 45 to 65 per cent. That changes depending on activity and exercise levels, your gender and certain conditions that you have. It’s a recommendation, but it’s indicative of the importance of carbs in our diet which is often misunderstood.”
The role of nutrition for Personal Trainers
There are many areas around nutrition that personal trainers can help their clients; particularly when taking on further nutrition study.
“To help a client lose or gain weight, we would calculate their basal metabolic rate and their physical activity level. Together, these two calculations form the clients total daily energy expenditure,” Parke says.
“Once this has been established we can then suggest a calorie surplus for weight gain or a calorie deficit for weight loss. Typically, a plus or minus of 200-500 calories per day will help the client to gradually lose or gain weight in a safe manner.
From here, a food diary would be wise so we can see what the client is or isn't eating and we can help guide them toward healthier choices. The key here is to appreciate that healthy food choices are important but that whether or not we lose weight depends on our understanding of the energy balance equation. We need to be educating our clients on this so that they steer clear of inappropriate dieting after reading something in a magazine that has little to no scientific backing.”
“For high performance, there are several key focus areas. Carbohydrate intake is very important and the right types at the right time in order to hit peaks and help with recovery,” Herbert continues.
“Foods that you have in recovery and at what time is equally important; replacing glycogen stores for endurance athletes, having enough protein for athletes lifting weights for their muscle recovery. Pre-and post-workout food. Another key factor that is often forgotten about is hydration, which has a huge impact on your body’s ability to perform, including electrolytes, cognitive ability and thermoregulation, right down to a cellular level.
Prioritise plant-based foods, fruit, vegies and grains which will act as your source pf carbohydrate. Be balanced and moderate with your meat intake, with a wide variety of meats and protein alternatives like eggs, nuts, fish and tofu. Make sure you incorporate your dairy or dairy alternatives. Diversity is key from all of the food groups.”
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