The Athlete Factory, Chester, has been open some time now and I still find myself in the situation where I seem to be juggling a lot. With 4 young children, the business, my youth sport commitments and my career as a performance coach to the USA Olympic committee and USA 7s team (in Olympic Year!) it can be a lot to mentally and physically manage even with the team of terrific people I have surrounding me in my personal and professional life. Life’s hectic and however much I tell myself it’ll be better next week, it never works out that way. Juggling business and family is never easy and you can’t control the balance sometimes which makes staying fit and healthy even more important.
Does the Type of Food Really Make a Difference?
As a player I learned the hard way how the body reacts to training, food and recovery since in my early years I loved a beer and a pizza and didn’t care too much about nutrition. The way I saw it, I was playing well so why couldn’t I eat what I want? It was not until I worked with Matt Lovell (England Rugby nutritionist) and Craig White (Wasps, Wales & British Lions strength and conditioner) that I really started to grasp how wrong I was. They ignited my passion for nutrition and training simply through education. They mentored me and their support resulted in me finding out first hand what results were possible both physically and, to my surprise, mentally.
I finally understood that one of the major keys to a more energetic, healthier lifestyle lies in understanding how the body reacts to foods. There are so much information out there which can be misleading and confusing and whilst we all would like one, there is no magic pill or shortcut that lasts.
We always advise people to eat clean as much as possible. Put simply… if it runs, flies, swims, grows on the ground, under the ground or on a tree eat it! Stay away from processed foods whenever you can because our body can deal with foods in their natural state, it’s the ingredients we add in that do the damage; the hidden fats, preservatives and sugars for example. Simple things like knowing what oils are good to cook with, what good fats are important for our body and actually aid fat loss are the little changes that make a big difference.
We encourage the 80/20 rule.. 80%of the time eat clean then 20% eat what you want. This way it encourages you to have a life-style change not a diet, we don’t do diets we live by the phrase
“Eat and Train don’t Diet and Exercise”
This is a common phrase I use when anyone ask me to offer some advice on nutrition and training. In sport we don’t diet, we don’t focus on the counting calories, limiting food sources or replacing meals with synthetic shakes. We simply advise people to eat well to complement their training, it’s really that simple.
The other thing we ask people to do is train smart, don’t just exercise, maximise your gym session and your time by lifting the intensity. Get the body moving and out of its comfort zone!
We all have heard of HIIT classes, these 20-30 minute sessions are fantastic to stimulate your metabolism and burn fat but the timing and how you eat and drink around that session will determine how effective that session was. One thing we use for players who have come back from an off season a little “heavy” shall we say is to use these HITT style sessions morning and night. For one example, we have the player use some tips to stimulate their system, like drinking a pint of water on waking, having a table spoon of apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach (for gut health), then have a coffee, with some coconut oil and whole milk as a pre work out. This helps kick start your metabolism and encourages your body to use fat for energy when you are in your HITT class. Then you have a good breakfast full of protein, good fats and fibrous carbs. Eat clean during the day, have your last meal before 7pm, then do a small HITT style circuit pre bed (this can be a quick body weight circuit). This means your body will be burning fat throughout the night before getting boosted again and continue into the HITT session in the morning – meaning you would have fat burned for over 12 hours! Throughout the day you eat good clean food (non processed foods and no alcohol) and the fat will drop off. We easily turn athletes around in 2-4 weeks.
Understanding Not Fear
Start building a healthy mindset around food rather than fear by having the understanding of the different types carbs, some you want fast (for post training – sugars, glucose, fructose as an example) and some you want slow (for non training times – wholemeal, grains, fruit & veg with skin on), it’s the timing of protein (fish, meat, eggs, veg), the good fats (nuts, seeds, avocados) and the micro nutrients from fruit, all this help rebuild and energise you. Having this knowledge means you can eat a vast range of foods that complement your training.
You don’t need to diet and starve to lose weight and you cannot out train a poor diet – all go hand in hand to become a healthier, leaner, fitter and stronger you.
Remember fad diets are just that fads, they don’t last, they are not sustainable, definitely not healthy and don’t create behaviour changes for good, which should always be your aim.
We encourage and help people to “eat well and train smart” as this is the way to a lifestyle change and a healthy you.
So remember to Eat and Train, rather than diet and exercise and watch the results in mind and body surprise you!
If you are looking for support with your nutrition and exercise regime whether for sports performance or simply as a way to get or stay healthy then have a chat with one of our coaches.