Sunday 24 June 2012

Make yourself a winner - As featured in Alpha Fit issue 4

There is nothing particularly different about the kind of nutrition you need to become a super athlete. It’s just a case of having the willpower and following David Stache’s four golden rules.
I am often asked what the differences are between the diets I write for elite athlete clients and those of the average gym user wanting to perform or look better. The truth is the same foods work for both – there are no secret foods that elite athletes are eating, nor are there any supplements they have access to that your average gym user cannot get access to. However there are differences between elite and non-elite that I see too often when it comes to nutrition. Here is an overview of those differences.

1. Consistency is the key
This is the number one difference and without doubt the biggest issue when it comes to diet. Eating consistently well brings results – there is no doubt about that. Sticking to a diet requires willpower, but when that diet brings you results that earn you a living, the willpower struggle diminishes. If your salary depended on eating the right foods and sticking to a diet, I’m sure you would.

2. Understand how food works
Either the athlete or their nutritionist they work with will have a good understanding of why they are eating specific foods, why their meal timings are set out as they are and what the implications are of straying from the diet. I’m not saying you have to have a qualification in nutrition, but an understanding of at least what foods are needed and when will improve your performance. [Keeping up with AlphaFit should be a good way to start if you are not sure – Ed.]

3. Plan, plan, plan
Lack of planning: After consistency this is the biggest issue I see for results not coming quick enough. If you don’t plan your foods out and take the time you will stray from your diet. As a good friend Chris Evers – one of the most committed gym members I have – commented: “The engagement with food and the time and the effort you have to put in has to go up if you are to be the best you can be.” To really be the best you have to live the life in the kitchen too.

4. Don’t forget about micronutrients
So often I see how yoing guys are using a protein powder, creatine and a pre-workout formula but completely ignore micronutrients either from their diet or from supplements. At the very least you should use a multivitamin. Other micronutrients such as zinc and Vitamin D are excellent for both body composition and sports performance, yet these are often ignored too. Contrast this with the elite and they will at the very least be covering all bases either through food or supplementation. I recently ran my own mini-research in to zinc deficiency of 37 males who bought a tub of protein. Some 28 were deficient in zinc, yet only four bought zinc supplements. Begs the question: why did they bother with any supplements?

There’s nothing radical there. All these are just behaviours which elite athletes adhere to and that is what sets them apart in terms of their diet from the average gym user.
So what does it take to be the best? Well, apart from genetics and great skill, the importance of nutrition is not to be underestimated. If you’re not planning out your diet then you won’t ever be the best you can be as you will never see where you could improve. This is integral to constant progress.
So try and implement the above key differences for three months and you will be surprised how much progress you will make.
Follow David on Twitter @totalbd or on his website

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