After getting your workout in order, training plan, gym buddy ’n everything, the next thing most people will start to do is take a gander at their diet.
Diet and workouts go hand in hand in improving your fitness, enhancing your health and enabling you to be better at whatever weekend warrior activity you choose to do and ‘gram about.
That being said, people are making some serious nutrition mistakes that end up costing them in the long term.
1. Skipping breakfast
Breakfast seems to be a love it or hate it meal. Missing breakfast has been associated with increased body fat and some research has demonstrated a link to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Overnight as the body is resting, glycogen levels significantly drop, lowering bloody glucose levels. Steady blood glucose levels are important for efficient functioning of the nervous system. When blood glucose drops, the body can experience symptoms such as hunger, dizziness, nausea and inability to concentrate.
So breakfast is important to maximise body functioning. If you are aiming to reduce body fat, try a protein rich breakfast to promote fatty acid oxidisation during the morning.
2. Lack of variety in your diet
We are creatures of habit. People tend to find meals that work for them in terms of satisfaction, energy requirements and ease of preparation. This often involves eating the same meals week in, week out.
The only problem with this, is we may be missing out on key nutrients by only sticking to the same things. How many people commonly consume apples and bananas on a daily basis but rarely touch berries, melons or kiwis?
Mix up your snacks as well as your main meals.
3. Reliance on supplements
Supplements are a handy and convenient addition to most diets. Who wants to carry round a cooked steak with them all day for post gym, when a protein shake is so much more convenient? Supplements make sense in many circumstances and can provide an easy boost to the diet.
But they are not designed to REPLACE nutrients gained from food. Multi-vitamins are a common supplement used incorrectly. For example, many people believe if they are taking a multi-vitamin there is no need to eat as much fruit or veg. Supplements are expensive, with their companies spending millions on marketing them to make them appear better than they really are.
Aim to get the majority of your nutrients from food, only using supplements to SUPPLEMENT your diet, not fill gaps in it.
Some nutrients such as Vitamin D or creatine are difficult to achieve solely from a balanced diet so may be more beneficial to supplement than other vitamins or minerals.
4. Not understanding portion sizes
This is a common mistake in people aiming for weight loss. Much nutritional advice references arbitrary amounts, such as “a small bowlful” or “a handful”. These two measures can differ significantly from person to person depending on your interpretation.
Most people have no idea how much they should be aiming to consume at each meal to hit a particular goal such as fat loss or increasing lean mass. Portion size for a nutritional target will be specific to each individual so it’s worth visiting a nutrition consultant to fully understand your personal requirements.
5. Reliance on convenience foods and lack of preparation
We live in a society where we are overloaded with food choices in the supermarkets, out and about and at work. Often at the end of a long day, its too easy to pick up a self proclaimed “healthy” ready meal, and two microwave minutes later you have a hot, tasty dinner. Only problem with this, is these supposed “healthy” ready meals, are commonly packed with salt, additives and hidden sugars. Additionally, they are low in nutritional density, meaning they often lack many vitamins and minerals that fresh food will give us.
There are many quick and healthy meal ideas which can be prepared from fresh (try medicinalchef.com
for some ideas). It really is worth taking 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes, and preparing a fresh meal.
Get prepared in the morning and take healthy snacks for the day rather than being tempted by low quality snacks when out and about and at work. Try cutting up some veg and putting in a box with some hummous, some dried fruit and nuts or even get creative at the weekends and try baking up some healthy treats for your weeks snacks!