Diets and nutrition strategies have become more and more advanced in recent years, up to the point of being overly complicated and difficult to understand and follow. Very often nutritional science contradicts itself (e.g. Carbs went from being good to the enemy almost overnight). Our viewpoint is to not see food as either good or bad but rather to see food as the means to fuel our lives, both for performing better physically as well as to being part of some of the amazing experiences that food can offer from emotional, social and sensory perspectives.
We have compiled a very easy to follow list of basic things to consider. We believe that this meal plan will work for any individual (sports people or people trying to live a healthy lifestyle).
It uses the basic idea of eating food in its original form as often as possible (avoid processed food).
Understanding the roles of food.
Food can be categorized into falling into three main categories: Builders, Energy providers and Health boosters.
The foods that “build” substrates in our bodies (muscles, hormones etc.) These are proteins and fats. On this plan, you can eat as much natural, unprocessed protein and fat as you want. But a minimum of 2g protein yield per kg of body weight per day. So for example a 60kg person would need 120g of protein per day. Remember, this refers to protein yield not mass of the food, that is a 120g steak yields about 27g of protein.
Here are some examples:
- Red meat
- Eggs (whites or whole)
- Chicken (with/without the skin)
- Turkey (with/without the skin)
- Fish (with/without the skin)
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
Notice the importance of unprocessed foods. Eating chicken from an actual chicken breast is better than opening a package of pressed mechanically separated chicken parts.
One of the rules of this plan is that you have to eat fish at least twice a week, and the more the better. However, fish from a can doesn’t count – it’s not off-limits, but it doesn’t count toward your twice-a-week total. Non-farmed fish is ideal, but work with what you have access to.
Pork isn`t as good, but still permitted in natural form (tenderloin). But avoid bacon and NO hot dogs etc. They’re processed junk.
- Energy Providers
This is where carbohydrates fall. This plan will allow carbs, but they’ll be of the healthy sort.
Here’s what you can eat:
- Potatoes (any version in its natural state)
- Sweet potatoes (ideal)
- Rice (any version)
- Oatmeal (any version but steel cut preferred)
- Any fruit
- Any veggie
Note: Wraps and the like may be used sparingly (once or twice a week)
You may have unlimited amounts of any of the foods from either of the above categories.
- Health Boosters
These are your vitamins and minerals typically found in fruits and vegetables. This is part of the requirements your body needs from a micro nutritional perspective in order to keep you healthy.
Aim for vegetable/fruit with every main meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). You can have whatever vegetables you want, but fresh or frozen is preferred over canned. They should be bright and colourful and actually have taste.
Peas, broccoli, shredded peppers, and mixed veggies are best. This will help you feel full, give you some energy, and along with the good fats, help take care of the third category, keeping you healthy.
Take note of
Avoid any processed carbs, junk food, desserts, sugar, soda, and fruit juice – all off limits. Pasta and bread are also on the avoid list.
Of course, you can eat that stuff if you must, just be aware that you’re cheating if you do. There are also no diet drinks allowed – no Diet Snapple, Pepsi One, Coke Zero, etc. They’re not natural things so they don’t qualify.
Water and Green tea (without sugar or honey) are the most important beverages
Basic rule, if the food doesn’t look pretty close to what to its original form, you can’t have it
- Unlimited natural, unprocessed meat (chicken, turkey, red meat, wild game)
- Unlimited animal skin
- Unlimited natural fat
- Fish (not from a can) twice per week minimum
- Veggies with every meal, no exceptions
- Unlimited fruit
- Unlimited potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oatmeal
- If you follow the above rules, one meal per week eat whatever you want, as much as you want.
Note: Choose organic and/or high quality versions of the above foods whenever possible or as budgetary restrictions allow.
The exceptions to consuming processed food are that athletes will need to take care their protein and ergogenic requirements. Thus a high quality whey protein is essential. Although whey is processed to get to its supplement form it should be seen as a simpler or pure form of protein.
Quality: At least 70% of total mass of product is whey protein. There are two classifications of Amino acids that you should look for when buying a protein product. They are BCAA and EAA. BCAA stands for Branch Chain Amino Acids, and EAA stands for Essential Amino Acids. Both are important.
Micronutrional Supplements (vitamins and minerals) are just that – they supplement a good diet and provide ideal amounts of important nutrients that you can’t obtain even in the best of diets. Remember, supplements don’t replace a good diet, nor are they a substitute for consistent, high quality training and adequate recovery. You need to make sure those two things—a good diet and a quality training and recovery plan—are already in place. When they are, supplements can definitely help take your performance to the next level, allowing you to make increases in the volume and quality of training, without your immune system taking a hit.