Simplifying Nutrition by Coach Randi Levendusky
Nutrition does not have to be difficult.
I heard there’s a thing called the metabolic window and I need to eat my protein right after I workout. I also heard I should carb cycle, never drink soda, cut back on coffee, try keto, cut out dairy, and heaven forbid I eat more than 50 grams of carbs a day. There is a time and a place for each of those. The reality is that there is SOO much information out there, some of it true, some of it not so much that it can get confusing.
TRUTH BOMB- NO fad diet, tea detox, or pill will bring you SUSTAINABLE results. Stop buying into the quick “fix”.
Chances are you’re reading this because you want to make some changes to your current nutritional habits in order to achieve a healthier version of yourself.
So how do we get you closer to your goals?
Take an HONEST look at your nutrition and habits. If you are not where you want to be, start at the beginning of the nutrition hierarchy.
Awareness → calories → macros → timing → supplements
Before we can worry about tracking calories or macros, nutrition timing, or supplements, we need to UNDERSTAND our nutrition and build a healthy foundation.
How do we do that?
We start by creating self awareness, because awareness leads to adherence.
If you’re not even aware of how many calories you eat everyday or what food is made up of which macro, how can you possibly adhere to counting macros?
Keep it simple.
- No matter what stage of your health/fitness journey you are at, you must EAT REAL FOOD. Focus on consuming mainly plants and meat. A good goal to aim for is consuming 90% of calories from the earth, meaning the majority of your food sources should have grown from earth, roamed the earth, swam in the ocean, or flown over the earth. Our body cannot digest and absorb packaged calories as efficiently as “real” food.
- Look at the ingredient list, if it is a paragraph long, limit the consumption of that food. These foods with lengthy ingredient lists should fall into the 10% category of your diet. The more ingredients there are in a food, the more likely it is to cause GI distress and food intolerances. We like to follow the 1-8 ingredient rule if possible.
Fun fact, food labels can be up to 25% off in the calories/macros listed on their nutrition label. The more ingredients a food has means there is more room for error in the nutrition label, along with a greater possibility of food intolerance/sensitivity.
- Create self awareness. Before we can get overly specific with our nutrition routine, we need to educate ourselves on what nutrition is.
We need to understand calories is the measure of energy food gives us. The total number of calories in a food item is derived from the food’s macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Each macronutrient plays a key role in our bodies. So yes, we do need to eat carbs and fat!
Protein is ESSENTIAL. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. Proteins break down into amino acids which are essential for retaining, building and repairing your muscles! By consuming an adequate amount of protein, we can help prevent muscle loss when losing weight/leaning out. Protein is the macro that everyone thinks they are consuming enough, when in reality most people are actually under eating protein. It’s also the most satiating macro, meaning it helps to keep us feeling full in between meals.
Protein examples: lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish, beef), whey Isolate, egg whites, pea protein.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source, which means it’s EXTREMELY important to include them in your daily eating habits. Carbs are NOT the enemy.
The amount of carbs your body needs to consume depends entirely on YOU- your activity level, stressors, job, lifestyle, hobbies, workouts, goals…you get it, it’s individualized and individual preferences.
There are two types of carbohydrates: Glucose (simple) and Glycogen (complex).
Glucose is made up of simple sugars and it is your immediate source of energy.
Glycogen is made up of complex sugars and is stored in your muscles and liver. When you exercise, your muscles use glycogen stores from muscle tissue as the primary source of energy. This is why it’s important to keep our glycogen stores full in order to maintain strength, speed, and increase our overall performance.
Main Carb examples rice, vegetables, oatmeal, potatoes, fruit.
Fats help keep your hormones in check, build cell walls, transport Vitamins A, D, E, and K, and support our nervous system functions. Fat is your body’s source of stored energy, and we cannot survive without it.
Fats are also NOT the enemy. Again, it’s just consuming the right types of fat in the right quantity for your body in order to allow you to function at an optimal level. Choose healthy fats and ALWAYS try to avoid trans fats.
Fat examples: Avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, egg yolk, nut butter, nuts.
- It’s also important to understand what one serving size of each of these macronutrients is.
Protein: One serving of protein is equal to your palm, including the palms diameter and thickness
Carbohydrate: One serving of carbohydrates is equal to the size of your cupped hand
Fat: One serving of fat is equal to the size of your thumb
Create and eat balanced meals: Your plate should have a source of protein, carbohydrate, fat, and veggies.
Males should aim to eat two servings of each macronutrient during meals.
2 palm sized portions of chicken
2 cupped handfuls of sweet potatoes
2 thumb sized pads of butter on the potatoes
Rest of the plate is veggies
Females should aim to eat one serving of each macronutrient during meals.
1 palm sized portion of chicken
1 cupped handful of sweet potato
1 thumb sized pad of butter
Rest of the plate is veggies
If you find yourself HANGRY, you can try to aim to eat a balanced meal every 3-4 hours to maintain a steady blood sugar and decrease cravings.
*This is simply a baseline, depending on your goals, activity level, and current weight you may need to add or subtract servings.
- Journal, keep track of what and how much you are eating, and how you are feeling. There is a significant connection among the food we are eating and our GI issues/intolerances and energy levels. One processed food might be the trigger for any GI issues you are experiencing, but if you don’t track what you are eating and how you are feeling it’s going to be realllll hard to identify which food is causing your GI issues.
Make a chart, at the top write the areas of biofeedback you want to track- examples include energy, sleep, hunger, GI issues, and workout performance. Each day grade the biofeedback 1-5, 1 being poor and 5 being awesome. Compare your numerical results with the foods you are consuming, is there a connection?
- While still eating real food, make sure you are supporting your daily output of calories.
What do you do on a daily basis?
Does your job require a significant amount of brain power?
If you said yes, then your breakfast should be fueling your body and brain for the day. This means skipping the half of a bagel and coffee. Why? The bagel will cause an energy crash shortly after consumption, and coffee raises your cortisol level (stress hormone)- which is likely already elevated at work due to all the brain power you are using. Instead, eat an egg cooked in coconut oil with veggies and potatoes. This gives you a well balanced meal consisting of protein (to keep you full), fats (to support neurological function and focus), carbohydrates (to give your body a quick energy source and keep your brain sharp) and micronutrients (to aid in digestion).
Do you train daily?
If yes, you should be eating protein at every meal to support recovery, promote muscle synthesis, and stay full throughout the day. You should also be consuming carbs with every meal to fuel and support glycogen replenishment and reduce cortisol levels. Try to keep fats away from training time. Fats are difficult for your body to digest, causing them to sit in your GI tract longer. If you load up on fats before a workout, your stomach will remain full and take up space for your diaphragm to expand, leaving you feeling winded and nauseous.
What should you eat at bedtime?
Bedtime is the time to calm the body, slow down the central nervous system, and promote restorative sleep. How do we do this? Eat protein, carbs, and fats, AKA another balanced meal. Carbohydrates release serotonin, which causes a parasympathetic response in the body, meaning it calms your body down. Carbohydrates also increase insulin production, which in turn decreases cortisol and stress. Fats will keep you full throughout night. Protein will aid in muscle synthesis and repair, which is key since all of your muscle gains are made at night!
- Fill the gaps. Take a look at the food you consume on a daily basis. Are you meeting all of your nutritional needs?
Do you eat fatty fish regularly? If not, you are probably low on omega 3s. You can supplement with fish oil.
High intensity training? Yes! Then consider supplementing recovery and muscle growth with creatine, don’t worry you won’t harm your kidneys. Creatine is one of the most researched supplements out there, and there are no proven links between kidney damage and creatine.
Do you live in a dark/rainy climate? Yep! Then consider supplementing vitamin D, which plays a key role in brain health and hormone development. Vitamin also has a huge impact on your mood. If you are noticing irritability than consider adding some vitamin D to your diet.
Have you been told your anemic? Yes! Okay, supplement with iron or ferrous sulfate. Careful here! Iron and ferrous sulfate are not quite the same, they have a different chemical structure. If you are anemic, when reading supplement labels aim to supplement with either 65 mg of iron OR 325 mg of ferrous sulfate. Iron is an element. When you buy ferrous sulfate, the labels says the dose is 325mg, meaning there is 325 mg of ferrous sulfate compound. If you buy iron, the label will say 65mg, this means there is 65 mg of iron, DO NOT TAKE 5 IRON TABLETS TO EQUAL 325mg. You will end up with some serious GI tract issues.
Anyways, supplementing is very individualized. Do not worry about supplementing until you have a healthy nutrition foundation, meaning 90% of the food your are consuming is coming from whole foods.
- Remove snacks. Not only is snacking mindless, it’s almost never balanced, meaning the snack usually consists of only one macronutrient. For example, snacking on nuts only provides you a source of fat. Consuming one macronutrient dense food can lead to cravings, binges, and overeating.
Instead, we want to focus on consuming balanced meals, even if this means we eat 4 or 5 meals instead of 3. Eating balanced meals ensures you are providing your body enough fuel to maintain a positive energy level and combat daily stressors.
- Prioritize sleep. Sleep is needed to promote hormone balance, neuro function, and recovery. Sleep is the time when your body recovers from all the stress it encountered during the day. When you are sleeping, your human growth hormone level peaks, allowing for muscle repair, and muscle gains to be created.
Getting enough sleep is also key to keeping our circadian rhythm regular. your bodily functions and hormones follow your circadian rhythm. If you interrupt this rhythm, your hormones will be out of whack. What happens when hormones get out of check? You become irritable, you have crazy cravings and are more likely to overeat, stress levels are elevated causing increased inflammation and bloating along with the slowing of fat loss.
How much sleep should you be getting?
7-9 hours every night.
- Stay hydrated. Water is used in every cell within the body. Water plays a key role in digestion and removing waste. Staying hydrated promotes clear complexion, enhances performance, and can aid in controlling caloric intake. You should be drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day, add an additional 20 ounces if you workout.
RECAP 10 Basics of Nutrition:
Fill in the gaps
Support daily output of calories
Create & eat balanced meals
Journal & track your food
Create self awareness
Look at the ingredient list
Eat real food – from the earth (plants + proteins)
These ten basics are the key to developing a healthy foundation. Once your nutrition foundation has been built, you can chase down your goals, whether it’s gaining muscle, losing body fat, or improving overall health.
Reach out to us at Rising Tide Performance!
We have coaches ready to help answer your questions and empower you to understand and take control of your body goals!