Nutrition is the gas to your body's engine and it can be your friend or foe when it is time to go after your goal performance. The right nutritional approach can set you up for big-time improvement. The wrong approach can leave you feeling achy, lacking recovery, and questioning if your goals are really attainable.
Let's look at three critical pieces to eating like an athlete.
1) Become Friends With Water
Based on my experience with clients over the years, we often overestimate how much water we drink during a day. We think we are getting enough water into our system but the data paints a different story. Missing the mark with your hydration can have impairing effects in the short and long-term. I see this as one of the biggest areas for improvement amongst athletes.
Also, note how I said "water" and not a sports drink or another form of liquid. Water is such a critical piece of our health and development. While I am all for the morning cup of cold brew coffee and utilize electrolyte blends in training, my personal hydration tracking focuses on water consumption.
If you are looking for a starting spot, I use the formula:
Daily Ounces of Water=(Bodyweight (lbs) x .5) + 10
This is a solid starting point and provides you with a number to shoot for. The way I make this attainable is to use the same water bottle each day. This way I know how many ounces are in one bottle and how many bottles I need to drink each day.
For example, my daily hydration ounces goal is 120. I have a 32-ounce water bottle that I utilize. I know I need to drink 3.75 bottles a day to hit my goal (I round it up to four bottles for simplicity).
2) Build A Streak!
The next thing to focus on is building consistency with your meals. I am not a calorie counter by any standard, but I do eyeball meals with my hand. This allows me to spot check my meals and make sure I am staying the course without walking around with a scale and a notebook.
With each meal, I try to aim for certain amounts of protein, smart carbohydrates, fruits/veggies, and healthy fat. I perform at my best when I'm the most consistent with my nutrition.
Just like you, I'm human. I like sweets and snacks. To combat this, I try to build meal streaks and see how many meals in a row I can hit my goals. Then when the streak ends, I start over and try to beat the previous streak. This fun game pokes at my competitive side in a healthy way!
3) Ditch The Pop-Tarts
Studies looking at processed food diets versus unprocessed food diets have found a few key considerations. The big one is that eating more processed food seems to blunt the effects of feeling full and allows for more consumption than what is needed. As you probably guessed, this leads to weight gain.
Unprocessed diets led to more weight loss purely due to the body being able to signal fullness better.
This will be the most challenging point to implement, as processed foods are designed for you to crave them and consume more. Start with one processed food you struggle with and sub in an unprocessed alternative. Then gradually eliminate other unprocessed options from there.
Want More Nutritional Assistance?
I have created a resource called, Nutrition for Success. By unlocking this resource, you will get access to recommendations based on your goals (body composition/weight loss, maintenance, muscle gain), sample foods to achieve these goals, and per-meal recommendations to get the most out of your nutrition.
Coach Bo's blog
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