When it comes to nutrition, fitness, health and vitality there are a few set fast rules that you should generally try to follow. These rules include consistency, balance and planning…if you can get these right, then you’ll almost certainly maximise conditioning and performance.
In order to achieve nutritional balance you should aim to consume all of the major food groups (although try to cut out the processed varieties) seen on the Eatwell plate. Aim to include a starchy carbohydrate at least 3 times a day whilst ensuring protein and vegetables are available each meal too.
6 meals a day
OK, so 6 meals a day might seem a lot, but 3 of these 6 are ‘snacks’ meaning you should aim to have your regular Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, but also try to have a mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack and a mid-evening snack…totalling 6 key eating opportunities! Breakfast, Lunch and Evening meal should be the largest meals you consume, whilst the mid-meal snacks should be smaller but equally as balanced.
What snacks to include and when?
A Protein and Carbohydrate snack combo is ideal, people report feeling fuller for longer when protein is ingested because of the more complex structure. Combining protein with a carb source supplies an energy source that feeds the body throughout the day. Combining protein and carbs means the body receives the energising fuel it needs, as well as the muscle building blocks required to encourage growth and development. Mid-meal snacks don’t need to be nutritionally complete, they just need to deliver the key energy and growth ingredients…the fruit and veg should always be included with main meals!
- 1x Rice cake and 1-2x teaspoons peanut butter (try adding a drizzle of honey)
- 2x Crackers with thin spread of cream cheese per cracker
- 2x Crackers with Nutella and sliced banana
- Natural or fruit yoghurt with a small banana (or half a large banana)
- Natural yoghurt and a handful of dried fruit (your handful, no ones elses…hands are usually relative to your overall size)
- Ryvita and cottage cheese
- Protein shake
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
NOTE: The above snack ideas constitute one mid-meal snack, try to vary them as best you can to maximise nutritional variety and balance.
So referring back to my first set of rules that are consistency, balance and planning…consistency is key when striving for health, sporting and fitness excellence, ensure that you plan your food and drink the day before to enable you to pack a balanced daily intake of nutrition. You see, you don’t get one without the other, you cannot achieve nutritional balance if you fail to plan your nutritional regime, and you cannot hope to develop nutritional AND sporting consistency if your eating and drinking is erratic and poorly structured. So next time you plan your lunch be sure to factor in ALL eating/drinking opportunities, and not just the ones society has forced us into following.