We need a new paradigm for the food we eat. We need to view food as nourishment to our body as opposed to solely calorie units. We need to consider what that food represents in terms of energy and nutrients. Just one food or one nutrient is not the answer to more energy, an optimal weight, better health, and improved performance. The key to success lies in the collection of our habits that fuel our bodies, activities, minds, performance, and most importantly, our lives. One should focus their nutritional path on eating clean, eating often, hydrating, recovering and amplifying their mindset.
The phrase eating clean can cause some confusion. In the simplest terms it means trying to choose the least processed types of foods most of the time. Typically, the closer the food is to its original form, the better it is for you, so try to eat foods in the most natural form possible. Nutrient density plays a large role in the mentality of eating clean. Nutrient density is the relationship of the amount of nutrients that a food has to amount of calories. Focus on trying to choose the types of foods that have the highest amount of nutritents for the calories within the foods.
The key to energy and sustainability is how often you eat. By eating mini-meals every two to three hours, your body is given a steady flow of fuel. The goal here is to maintain blood glucose (fuel) in an optimal range. This will help maintain focus and keep your metabolism roaring all day long. We find that those who eat more frequently have better energy and prevent becoming overly hungry, which can help in making better food choices.
Hydrating the body is vital mainly because the body is 60-65% water and provides numerous vital functions. Water is responsible for providing life and shape to every cell, delivers fuel to muscles, lubricates and cushions joints, aids muscle contraction and tone, regulates temperature, and aids in metabolism, digestion and brain function. Consequently, dehydration caused these functions to suffer impairing your health, ability to recover from illness, and athletic performance. As little as a two percent decrease in weight, due to fluid loss, can impair both physical and mental performance.
Nutrition can help to speed the recovery process. After a workout your body has emptied its fuel stores and the muscle has been broken down. To gain the most out of your workout and perform at high levels, you need to repair the muscle and replace your fuel stores as quickly as possible.
The final piece of optimizing nutrition is focusing on mindset and behavior. All of the education in the world does not matter if it doesn’t lead to behavior change. Providing simple lists of the best foods to choose, easy guides on portion size, and presenting material in a concise and action-based way will help to give you the tools to immediately start making changes.
As a society, we have become enamored with diets. The word diet has many different definitions and is typically associated with managing the calories that you consume or eating in a prescribed or particular way. The word nutrition has a more positive connotation and is typically associated with nourishing the body.
Applying an 80/20 rule to nutrition and fueling will promote a balance and the inclusion of all foods. Try to consume foods you know will give you the nutrients and sustainable energy you need 80% of the time and then consume whatever it is you want the other 20%. Everything can fit into your daily diet, just keep yourself in check.