Skip to main content

Building your nutrition castle.

There's a lot of complexity when it comes to fitness nutrition.

Should I be eating more protein?
Should I be taking these supplements?
Should I be eating after 8pm?
How soon should I eat after working out?
Can I eat after working out if it is after 8pm?

I get asked SO MANY questions like this by my clients, and they often seem a little disappointed when I shrug and say "what would you like to do?"


And I'm honestly not being facetious. The truth is, it's very unlikely to matter. For the greatest majority of people, eating at a particular time of day is not going to be the key that suddenly "fixes" their nutrition. Changing your protein shake from one with 8g of carbs to one with 5g is not going to make any impact at all.

I like to think about nutrition as being like building a castle.

You start with the foundation, and that is the old adage: Calories in and calories out. Consume an appropriate amount of calories for your BMR, activity levels and goal. If you are not doing this, it doesn't matter what you are doing. You can eat all the kale you like but if you are consuming more calories than you burn, you'll put weight on. Equally you can eat nothing but chips and lose weight - your performance and body composition aren't going to be great. You'll likely be quite hungry because you can't eat a lot of chips and keep the calories low; and your health will suffer for lack of nutrients, it's not sensible, but it's possible.

Then we have the cornerstones, there's a few of them, but they include:
Consume enough protein for recovery and satiety, fats for satiety and carbs to avoid fatigue.
Eat the majority of your foods in their whole, unprocessed form.
Eat when hungry, and stop before you are too full.

Then you have the walls, and while you need walls, it doesn't really matter how they are made up, so long as they keep the rain out. So you might be vegetarian or paleo or introduce any kind of regime that works for you. So long as it meets the cornerstones of appropriate nutrients and is sustainable in terms of health, comfort and satiety, you can roll with it. 

Once you have this kind of structure, that's really all you need, that's enough to keep you warm and dry, but if you've nailed that, you might keep looking up.

Right at the top, you have the little details. You don't need turrets or flags on your castle, but it might be fun. Once you've got a castle it can be good to play around and make it exactly how you want it. But you can't go sticking your flag in the ground and wonder why you don't have a fancy castle like the guy next door who has foundations and walls and stuff. That's no good when winter comes.

So it really doesn't matter how you time your meals, if you aren't eating balanced portions of mostly whole foods. Fine tuning is moot if you are still eating an excess of calorie dense snacks. And while ensuring you eat enough protein will help you feel more satisfied after meals, that's only any good if you stop eating when you feel full and keep within your calorie requirements.

We do know an awful lot about nutrition, and that's marvellous, and really interesting for geeks like me, but it's perfectly OK to set aside some of that because in practice, much of that detail has a negligible impact for most people.


If you are looking at your diet and wondering why you aren't reaching your goals, look down to the foundations before you start trying to build turrets.

I did this little vlog for my lovely beta testers, who are currently trialing my anti-diet Free Living Fitness coaching programme (watch out for that soon, subscribe for updates), where you can hear me chat on about this sort of stuff.




I want you to be able to eat the foods you love, with the people you love being around, and also be healthy, strong, and as lean as you want to be.

I help people achieve this with tailored online and in-person nutrition coaching, powered by Precision Nutrition's proven curriculum. See what it's all about here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Training with Fibromyalgia - a primer for Fitness Professionals

Fitness and Fibromyalgia
The second of my posts about training clients with chronic illness (the first on EDS is here)

Learning how to achieve fitness in a chronically ill body was first my way of life, and later, my profession; as I train or programme for a number of Personal Training clients. I have EDS and Fibromyalgia (which commonly presents alongside EDS).

While the physiology and mechanisms behind EDS are relatively well understood, at least in terms of recognising the roles collagen plays in our bodies and the effects of an anomaly, fibromyalgia is a bit of a tricky one. The diagnosis, causes and management of fibromyalgia are not very well understood, and while progress is being made in terms of recognising physiological markers etc, we are still very much in the dark.

One thing that is generally agreed on however, is that exercise is good therapy for fibromyalgia, and that's where we come in.


Scope of practice
Here we go again...

Fitness professionals are there to help …

Training Ehlers Danlos Athletes - a primer for the Fitpro.

When you have a rare health condition, it's pretty exciting when you encounter someone who knows about it. Even more so when you encounter people who are interested in it and more importantly, understanding how to bridge the gap and work with it.

This is why I am really happy to be seeing more and more fitness professionals asking "I have a client with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, what do I need to know?"

As a fitpro, and athlete living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome I am always happy to chat to trainers looking to broaden their understanding, and as I am often answering the same questions, I thought it would be good to do a write up.


Quick disclaimer before we start - I'm not a medic, and this is not for medics. I'm going to provide you with as many references as I can, but please seek specific medical input from your/your client's health care professionals. And with that we get to our first point.

Scope of practice.
Quick, check your job title. Are you a personal tr…

But how can you be an athlete when you are sick?

Training through chronic illness - living life on the edge.
I'm living a double life.

My superhero persona goes to the gym and lifts enormous weights. She's vital and has her life together. Endless to-do lists in a bullet journal, juggling work and kids and being an athlete and performer with theatrical effortlessness.

Then there's the secret side people don't see, where I lie on the sofa in my flare day leggings and fleece, clutching a cup of tea for the slight relief the warmth affords my stiff, clawed hands.

I know I'm not the only one. I know a lot of athletes living with chronic illness. Outwardly fitter and busier than the average person, inwardly wracked with pain and fatigue.

There are two ways people tend to interpret this. Either we are not as sick as we claim, or we are stupidly putting our health at risk doing sport that seems counter-intuitive to our well being. The reality is a lot more complicated. I wanted to formulate a decent answer to "why …

Step away from the New Year weight loss.

I was helping my son get ready for school this week, and we discovered that his school trousers would no longer do up.

"Oooh, looks like you've done some growing in the holiday!" I said, to which he retorted;

"Well, yeah... it IS 2019"

Of course. Silly me. How could I not have considered that.

On reflection I realised that this is exactly what I would like to say to most people who come to me concerned about festive weight gain.

Why the New Year Diet?
There's two types of New Year dieters.

The first type had resolved to get on a new health kick, to address some unhealthy habits or lose a bit of weight, probably before Christmas. But they left it until New Year, because that's a nice milestone to work with and starting a new regime in the chaos of the holidays is just asking for trouble - it's easier to build routine and discipline when things have calmed down a bit.

The others have gained weight over the holidays, and are now worrying about losing i…

Fitness goals for women...

...That don't involve getting smaller.
I've been thinking about body positive personal training again (OK, you got me, I never stopped...)

Specifically because Lift the Bar (a CPD provider for fitness professionals) brought it up recently.

It brought me back particularly to goal setting.

Goal setting for women.
It's often assumed that the reason a woman takes up any kind of "fitness" is to lose weight "tone up", get rid of a body part or otherwise alter the look of her body to one that is normatively considered correct for a women.

Often women turn up at a facility and have goals of this type thrust upon them, because that's got to be why they are there, right?

But more and more, it's not. Plenty of women are fed up with people telling them to get smaller, and whether you are one of those women, or someone trying to help those women, I'm going to throw you a primer.

Not sure what your new goal should be? Not sure what to offer a client who …