Wednesday 23 July 2014

The key 'good' nutritional habits to implement

One of the key aspects of any nutrition plan i work on with clients is to initially break and form new habits.

A habit is defined as a regular tendency or practice, hard to give up.

We obviously do not want to break good habits, we want to form new one's but bad habits are one's we need to break in order to make progress. The reason for this is because a good nutrition plan focussed on goals should always have an underlying base of good healthy nutritional habits.

The key habits i always initially work on with clients are:

1) increase fruit and vegetable intake - Predominantly from green veg to begin with. It is evident with many people that they are not eating enough fruit and vegetables, the notion of 5 a day being enough is dated and misunderstood, if you train hard then you'll need more than a granny, but the government still recommends the same amount, go figure?! Aim to eat vegetables with every meal to begin with, usually 2 palm sized amounts. Fruit can follow a meal as a dessert and is great with crushed nuts and some greek yoghurt.

2) Hydration - make sure you are drinking enough water. This is simply the most important nutrient for the body above all others, you'll die sooner without water than without food! Males aim for 2 litres per day and females 1.5l as a starting point. Add 0.5l per hour of training.

3) Increase the protein you eat. To make this easy eat some protein at every meal. It should be the first nutrient that you think about when putting your meal together. Prioritise this and vegetables and your body composition will naturally improve as will your energy levels. Protein helps boost metabolism, keeps you feeling fuller for longer and helps with recovery and building of lean muscle from strenuous work outs. Males aim for a fist sized portion with each meal, half of this for females (3-5 meals per day). Most people are hugely under eating protein too and the research which suggest eating too much protein is bad for your health is actually incorrect and always fails to stand up to the scrutiny of real science.

4) Embrace fats - Healthy fats that is, just like people not all fats are created equal. Avoid artificial trans fats, usually found in processed foods. Eat mainly oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado's, eggs and real butter. Not only will these fats give you plenty of nutrients they will also help improve body composition. The old adage of all fats being bad is dated and incorrect.

5) Learn to love the kitchen again - This one is key, way too many people have detached from the kitchen and are cooking only a few meals from scratch each week. Overhaul your kitchen, fill it with single ingredient (non-processed) and whole foods and buy some good healthy recipe books. Making the kitchen a place you enjoy being is a habit that will serve you well for the rest of your life. If you can't cook, don't worry, a good recipe book along with Youtube instructional videos will see you competent in the kitchen in no time. Confidence comes from consistency.

6) Sleep - you can eat the perfect diet for you, train as hard as you like but if you don't rest enough your body will never run optimally and stress will become a limiting factor. Aiming for 8 hours a night is a great starting point. If you have trouble sleeping you may notice this changes when you move to other healthier eating habits as vital nutrients used to aid sleep are no longer deficient. However like all other habits, you have to be consistent. This means going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, allow your mind to relax before bed too, minimise distractions such as the internet, your phone or TV at least 30 minutes before bed.

Habits generally take 3 weeks to adopt and become a 'habit' therefore take your time implementing them, there's no rush to adopt all the one's listed above immediately, remember eating healthy is a lifestyle choice not a quick fix. The results you get from adopting healthier habits will last you longer than any fad diet will.

What about breaking bad habits? I'll cover that in the next article.

An insight in to what i will cover is:
Have a go at implementing the good habits and watch the old bad habits drop off.

If you have any questions about the points above or your own nutrition in general then please feel free to ask.


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