At Lift Lab we mostly talk about better training and how to optimize your time spent at the gym. Today, I want to go a slightly different route and talk about nutrition a bit. I’m not an expert in nutrition, but I do have a decent understanding of biology and physiology. You are free to take whatever I say in this post with a grain of salt, but it is very unlikely that many experts will disagree with anything that I have to say.
We see a lot of people that want to lose weight, feel better about themselves, and have more energy throughout the day. I would say we do a really good job at training these people in the gym, but at some point, nutrition has to be dialed in outside of the gym for optimal progress. You can be doing everything right in the gym but still not see the progress you want if you aren’t making the right decisions on the nutrition front.
Below are some very simple steps that you can start to take right now to encourage a better nutritional lifestyle and one that is likely on track with your goals…
Drink Mostly Water
You may or may not be surprised that one of the biggest things that hinders people’s progress with nutrition is what they drink. Think about all the people you know that drink mostly pop throughout the day, or other sugary drinks. I get it, people hate water. I’m not a big fan either, but it isn’t quite hard to guzzle some water down throughout the day. There are even other options out there such as sparkling water to make your water drinking experience a little bit more enjoyable.
We all know drinking water is important to keep all our systems functioning at optimum capacity, but drinking a lot of water also keeps you from drinking other stuff that isn’t on track with your goals. It’s okay to have your cup of coffee and even a soda now and then but keep 90%+ of all of your fluid intake coming from water.
Eat Mostly Protein
When talking with current and new clients about nutrition it is obvious that most don’t eat enough protein. A lot don’t even know how much they eat on a daily basis. I always tell people the easiest guideline is to eat your body weight in grams of protein a day. You’re probably thinking that’s a lot, and it probably is compared to what you’re currently eating. Protein intake is important because it helps increase and maintain muscle mass. The more muscle you have the less fat you have, and the more calories your body burns at rest. If your goal is to lose weight or lean out, this is what you want. The last note about protein is that it keeps you from eating a bunch of other junk. You may find that when you you’re eating something that most people consider “junk” it is filled with carbs and fat. Most things are now a days, which is why people find it hard to eat a lot of protein. If you focus on eating a lot of protein this will likely keep you eating fresh foods and less carbs and fat because these are the foods that are filled with protein. It’s hard to find “junk” food filled with protein. You will likely have to cook more of your meals which leads me to my last point.
(Real quick note on protein: I train a decent number of clients that are vegetarian, which makes it harder to eat a lot of protein. This is a great time to find quality protein shake sources and drink one or two of those throughout the day.)
Cook Most of Your Meals
We all know how hard it is to eat like crap if we cook our meals. Most of our bad eating habits come when we are on the run and have to make a stop at the nearest fast food restaurant. Cooking all of your meals can be hard, but there are many simple recipes out there. If you cook most of your meals, you are much more likely to eat foods that are on track with your goals and are filled with nutrients that should give you more energy throughout the day. I would find it quite hard to believe you won’t see progress if most of your meals are cooked directly by you.
You may have noticed that I used the word “most” or “mostly” for all of the above points. This was on purpose. I don’t believe in one size fits all programs and I also believe in living a little bit. I would fail at many things if I didn’t have a little bit of flexibility. I want the same thing for you. So, give yourself a little bit of wiggle room but stay on track MOST of the time. If you can dial in the three points above, I think you will be well on your way to a better nutritional lifestyle.