Blog #2: Nutrition Quick Tips
I have received a lot of questions lately regarding nutrition and want to share 10 action steps you could take today to get started!
1) Plan ahead: Most of the bad decisions we make tend to happen on the run. For example; you don’t pack a lunch for work and end up at the Chic-fil-A drive through or grabbing something from the work cafeteria. Start getting in the habit every Sunday of planning out your week in advance all the way through Friday. Write down breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks you might want then hit the grocery store to make sure you have everything you need. This leads into my next tip…
2) Meal prep: Planning ahead is important but there is even more value in packing ahead. Sundays and Wednesdays seem to work best for me to set myself up for the week. On Sunday night my wife and I get together enough snacks and foods to have lunch Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Wednesday nights we make a large dinner with enough leftovers to get us through Thursday and Friday. It takes a little time and effort but in the end, it saves you money and ensures you will eat healthy lunches for the week.
3) Skip the junk food at work: As athletes you are high performers by nature! Of the more than one million high school athletes across the United States, fewer than 5 percent go on to play sports in college at any level. Therefore, it is safe to assume many of you strive to have competitive success in the workforce and separate yourself from your peers. As crazy as it may sound one way to do that is showing up every day with energy and alertness. Avoiding processed foods, fast foods, and junk food throughout the work day will keep you focused and energetic which leads to higher levels of productivity.
4) Drink enough water: One of the biggest issues most people have is drinking enough water. Hydration is essential for a healthy functioning body. Aim to keep a water bottle with you always throughout day and avoid letting long periods of time go without rehydrating. We bought hydration monitoring bottles this year for some of our student athletes to educate them on how much they need to drink to reach their goals. *See link below
5) Don’t drink your calories: While hydration is important, drinking empty calories over the course of the day will set you back. Things like juice, Gatorade, soda, iced tea, and sugar-based coffee drinks are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Whether your goal is to gain or lose weight focus your attention on quality foods and stick with mostly water, tea, and if you are a coffee drinker use minimal additives.
6) Don’t skip breakfast: Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight. In fact, research shows that people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Breakfast has also been shown to have positive effects on mental performance and increases concentration throughout the morning.
7) Eat your Veggies: Vegetables are loaded with all sorts of vitamins and minerals that are just as important as the macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) we often hear about. If you don’t like veggies (many of us don’t) look at ways you can include them into your meals without force feeding yourself bland cauliflower. One way I like to do this is through smoothies where you can include things like kale, spinach, broccoli, and when combined with fruits you can’t taste them!
8) Follow the 80/20 Rule: Sometimes striving for the perfect nutrition plan can lead to an undesired outcome. My suggestion is to focus on eating “clean” for 80% for your meals and snacks and 20% on foods you would like to indulge over the course of the week.
9) Cook More: When I first graduated college I was competing in bodybuilding and was following a very specific meal plan with little to no room for flexibility. I had no issues with eating this way because I wanted to win but when I was no longer competing the habit stuck and I just continued to eat healthy, yet bland meals. When I started dating my wife she turned me on to different ways of cooking and making healthy food taste good. Most of your favorite foods like pizza, burgers, and cookies can be made to taste just as good (or close to it) without the bad ingredients.
10) Stick with your routine when you travel: Many of you travel for work and eating and training on the road can be challenging. One of the biggest adjustments I had to make when I started travelling more was finding ways to maintain my routine. Here are a couple of quick suggestions
A) Train first thing in the morning: Get up and start your day with a workout before you go to the conference or work function. This will give you some energy and ensure you won’t miss it later in the day if you get pulled in multiple directions.
B) Pack all your snacks: This is important for two reasons. The first is it will save you money since airports and hotels inflate prices like crazy. The second is it will help you avoid making poor decisions.