Nutrition is a very sensitive subject where many people have the wrong idea about what and how to eat. Let’s start with the word Diet. The word Diet doesn’t mean that you’re doing a programme to lose fat. What it actually means is what you eat and how. Do not confuse being on a diet and having a healthy diet! Those who say that they’re on a diet are those people who have an aim to lose an amount of weight for a period of time and then go back to their old eating routine which results in getting back all the lose weight if not more! On the other hand having a healthy diet means that you have healthy lifestyle way of eating and if possible should be obeyed through all your life.
So what does it mean to have a healthy diet? Let’s get the basics clear. To have a healthy diet one must eat smaller portions and more frequent. A typical day includes three meals, two snacks, a post workout protein intake, and another before bed.
Our bodies are like machines which need fuel to work. For you to give a start to your metabolism, a healthy breakfast is the key. This will also give you that extra kick for a full day of work and training. By breakfast I do not mean eggs, bacon, sausages and toast but rather some cereal with skim milk or even better with whey protein shake (between 1 and 2 portions). Please understand that there are many cereals which you can choose from in which most of them contain a huge load of sugars. It’s good to know that when we give our body any kind of sugar we get what is called an ‘insulin spike’ which makes our body to stop burning fat and starts using all the sugars as the primary source.
Therefore what I suggest best is the simple old fashioned Weetabix. But be aware of the portion. Even though it’s healthy doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Between 1 and a half to two biscuits are fine. Also another suggestion is the plain Special K where a portion could vary between 35g to 45g depending on your needs, aim and body structure. A typical 1 and a half biscuits of Weetabix together with one and a half scoops of Whey protein shake (with water) consists of approximately 400Kcal 36 g of which are protein and 25g of carbohydrates with a very few amount of fat. Other ideal breakfast is an omelet made out of egg whites and vegetables with 2 slices of whole meal toast (no butter) or maybe oatmeal made out of quick oats, egg whites and one scoop of whey protein powder.
Snacks can be very dangerous and should be taken seriously. Each snack should not be more than 200Kcal-250Kcal and should be either a good source of protein, carbohydrates or even fat. Yes fat! By fat I mean the monosaturated type which is found in nuts, olive oil, flax seeds etc… This kind of fat should be included in our daily routine once a day. An example of a snack is either a fruit, preferably a banana because of its potassium content or a portion of nuts in which I prefer unsalted roasted almonds. One portion of almonds is approximately 40g which contains roughly 225Kcal-250Kcal. Another option could be a light yogurt (or 2) or even a whey protein shake (but I prefer the last recommendation as a post workout meal and as the last meal before bedtime).
Therefore having three meals a day with two snacks in between and a whey protein shake before bed should amount to approximately 1800Kcal-2000Kcal. The only thing remaining is to keep in mind your calorie intake. For fat loss, one should eat between 20% and 30% less calories than consumed. Calories are consumed all day long even while you’re sleeping or just watching TV on the sofa. In a typical Kendo session (including armour) one can consume between 650Kcal-750Kcal while one hour weight training at the gym is around 350Kcal-450Kcal. If your aim is to keep the same weight try not to have any calorie deficit or surplus.
What food to eat?
Everything which is lean in case of meat and whole/natural in case of vegetables, carbohydrates and fats i.e. Chicken/Turkey breast, fish fillets etc… as a source of protein and wholegrain bread/pasta, brown rice, oats etc… as a source of carbohydrates, and nuts as a source of fat.
Vegetables are very good for us. They are low in calories, make you feel full and contain huge amounts of salts and minerals needed by our body. These should be included with both lunch and dinner. Included does not mean eating a salad by itself. A source of protein is needed in EVERY meal. Therefore people who eat salads all day thinking they they’re having a good balanced diet is not healthy at all. Why? Because you need protein for muscle repair and growth, carbohydrates as a fuel source especially for your brain (vegetables contain few carbohydrates) and monosaturated fats four your heart and joints.
Ideally a meal should be divided into an approximate of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat. Use your imagination to create recipes. There are a lot of sources out there on the internet and books which can help you make a low calorie recipe full of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Believe me there’s so much you could do!
Now that you know some basics, all you have to do is plan your day/s of what you’ll be eating from before and preparing your meals at least a day before.
What is the difference between food and supplements? I would like to describe it in a very simple way. Food has calories and supplements do not (or maybe negligible). For example I classify whey protein powder with food because it contains approximately 120Kcal-130Kcal for every scoop. Still this should not be replaced with solid food such as lean meat and fish. You may find some people having protein shake all day long when they’re in a ‘cutting’ phase and only lasts for around of one week.
Supplements are good for our bodies especially if we train hard every day. Flax seed oil is one supplement which I use for joints. Another supplement is multivitamin to make sure that I’m giving all the vitamins my body needs for a maximum performance. If you’re like me and have only one day a week without training than I also suggest Creatine and Glutamine. These are all natural in our body but are not available as much as we desire for a complete recovery and performance. Creatine Monohydrate is a natural component in our body and is found in all the meat and fish we eat and enhances our physical performance. On the other hand Glutamine is the most abundant protein in our body but when being highly active it’s still not enough for muscle repair and therefore I find it as a great supplement for the day after.
‘Empty calories’ is mainly there to describe alcohol and other drinks. We all know that we can enjoy alcohol every now and then and some sources even found that alcohol with moderation such as red wine could be healthy for you. But still when drinking alcohol we are only drinking calories without any benefits. No protein, no fats, and just a few carbohydrates from the sugars which are bad at night because if we don’t use all that carbohydrates (which we certainly don’t) it all goes into fat or simply put too much calorie surplus!
As you can see this is some very basic information regarding nutrition and I’m sure that there’s much more to write on since our body is very complicated in which we have to transform it into a fat burning machine and a high performance body during sports. If there is any question which you would like to ask please do so. Fortunately there are people with enough knowledge in our Federation who can help you no matter what your question is.