1. PROTEIN FIRST!
Protein comes from a Greek word meaning “of first importance”. It is the most essential macronutrient, the least fattening (hardest to store as fat) and keeps you full as it generally DIGESTS very slowly.
Vegetarians DO have OPTIONS too so don’t feel left out. (tofu, legumes, dairy, powdered protein etc) But for the rest of us its all about MEAT, FISH and PROTEIN SHAKES! (the latter more relevant if you are weight training). Aim to eat a protein source with EVERY meal.
2. Fibre keeps you full.
And I mean fibre from vegetables, and not just from grains, cereals etc. Being full (“Satiety”) is one of the key deciding factors in whether people stick to their diets or not. No-one likes feeling hungry all the time. So choose cruciferous, fibrous vegetables and eat them raw or steamed. E.G: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Courgette, Cabbage, Spinach, Green Beans etc.
3. ALWAYS get your HEALTHY fats.
Ensure that regardless of whether you eat high, moderate or low carb DIET that you have a 2-3 times daily intake of healthy fats. In my opinion these fall into two categories: MCTs (medium chain triglyceride) and EFAs (essential fatty acids). The former is found in Coconut Oil and is a great provider of quick energy, especially on a calorie or carb-reduced diet, the latter in Omega 3(6&9 also) and indirectly via Flaxseed or seed based oils (Udos oil is fantastic!). Take fat to lose fat!
4. Avoid mixing high carb and high fat foods.
Basic physiology and metabolism here. Fats and carbohydrates are readily used as energy in the body, at different TIMES AND under different circumstances of energy expenditure.
Eating too much of either can / will lead to storage of surplus calories but if you really want to ruin your physique goals then consistently mix high GI carbs and saturated fats in the same meals. Your body will use the carbohydrate as a fuel source and store a lot of the fat.
Examples of this mixture? All the stuff you KNOW you shouldn’t eat much of! Pizza, Cakes, Takeaway Food, Fast Food, etc etc. Even your humble Sunday roast can easily pack in too much of both. “Wholesome” maybe…. Good for staying or getting lean? Er, no.
5. Always Re-fuel right after your workout!
Intense exercise drains the body of energy. That’s one of the reasons we do it! However, repair and re-growth of lean body mass (“muscle”) is crucial to maintain a fast metabolism, keep stress levels down and get your body ready for the next workout.
Don’t assume that the next load of calories going in will undo the hard work of the calories you have taken out! It’s not that simple. Right after exercise, take some kind of fast DIGESTING protein and carbohydrate source. If you are a low-carb fanatic and can’t bring yourself to do this, then at least fire in some protein asap to get SOME energy back in.
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My Top 5 Basic Nutrition Rules for Optional Body Composition