If you’re searching for a pill that will make you lean, muscular, and improve your fitness then guess what, your sh*t out of luck because it doesn’t exist. It takes hard work and usually involves making several mistakes along the way. However, you can save yourself time and learn from my mistakes because I have made a lot of mistakes in my athletic career and worked with a lot of people that have made a lot of mistakes. As I continue to coach people, I realized these mistakes are really common and a lot of people could benefit from learning about them as well as how to fix them.
Here are seven common nutrition mistakes a lot of us make and how to fix them.
1) Your Diet Does Not Support Your Training and lifestyle.
The fix: It’s not a diet, it’s your nutrition so treat it as part of your training plan and make it a lifestyle. Training a certain way and eating a certain way, will get your body to burn fat and lean up, making it more efficient. So just because you workout hard doesn’t mean you can self-sabotage by eating high-glycemic carbs at every meal or start all your workouts on empty and expect to perform.
Focus on how much protein, fat, and carbs you are eating throughout the day and consider your daily needs. Recent research suggests that what you eat throughout the day matters much more than what you eat immediately after exercising, but what you don’t eat before a workout can affect you for up to 48 hours. It’s a nutrition lifestyle not just a "diet".
2) All You Eat Are Carbs.
The fix: If your main goal with exercise is losing weight and improving your body composition, then you don’t need starchy, dense, carbohydrates at all your meals. A group fitness class, a run or a weight lifting session that’s under an hour will not require any extra nutrition. My advice would be to focus your dense, starchy carbohydrates in the meal before your workout and in the meal after your workout to fuel you for and help you recover from your workout. All other meals should focus mainly on vegetables as your carbohydrate source.
3) What Are Vegetables?
The fix: This can be rectified in one simple sentence: eat meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some starch, a little bit of fruit and no sugar. This will steer you to the most nutritious, fiber-filled foods that promote overall health.
Higher-quality foods—veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, lean meats and fish, dairy, and whole grains—tend to be more satisfying. High quality will fill you up and keep your calories packed full of micronutrients, phytonutrients, and fiber.
If you focus on food quality, the quantity question will sort itself out (you can only eat so much broccoli, chicken, spinach, and sweet potatoes). Combine a high-quality diet with consistent, progressive training, and you’ll achieve both weight and performance goals.
4) When Training Gets Tough Your Nutrition Let’s You Down.
The fix: When you're “young” in your training life, which means you have only been lifting weights or doing high intensity exercise for 1-2 years, you will naturally make a lot of progress in your body composition and performance. That’s why newbies often drop weight and increase fitness quickly. However, once you start adapting to this lifestyle, that progress slows, and you will need to dial in the specificity of your workouts to keep seeing results/progress.
When it gets uncomfortable that is when all the positive adaptations occur and if this threshold training leaves you feeling empty, it’s probably your nutrition. Revisit #1, #2, and #3 to dial in your nutrition and allow your body to keep making progress metabolically and building muscle.
5) Your Goals Are Working In Opposite Directions.
The fix: If you want to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. If you want to improve your performance and build muscle, you need to be fueled to perform. These are two opposing goals and have to be addressed in separate blocks of time called nutritional periodization. It is extremely challenging to lose weight, build muscle, and perform well all at the same time.
To lose weight, create a manageable calorie deficit and concentrate on base training (resistance training mixed with low intensity days and 1-2 high intensity interval days) and adjust calories based on how your body reacts.
When you want to improve performance or gain muscle, you have to shift your focus to fueling your body to meet the increased performance demands, not on counting calories. If your workout performance is suffering, then you probably need more calories and higher quality foods (see #4) timed around your workouts. This is a challenging balancing act and it’s hard to be objective with yourself. Get some help from a coach and listen to your body because it will tell you what it needs.
6) You Workout So You Can Eat Whatever You Want.
The fix: Just because you had a hard workout does not mean you can go on the “see food” diet. I’m going to give you a dose of reality so brace yourself...You only need an additional 4 calories for every 10 calories you burn through exercise. I know, it’s not fair but our bodies are efficient and can repair and replenish fuel easier than we can burn it. You can make that work by managing your food quality, timing your carbs around your workouts, and paying attention to your body’s signals.
Of course treat yourself on occasion but not everyday and don’t use food as a motivator. You can only burn around 100 calories per mile of running and 600-800cals per hour during a hard workout, no matter how hard you workout...so next time you eat a donut calculate how many miles you have to run or how many hours you have to workout to use up those empty calories.
7) You Overdose on Caffeine.
The fix: Yeah,I love caffeine...a lot! Caffeine can boost performance, help restore glycogen in muscles, and help burn fat, However, that one cup of coffee that used to boost your running performance may now be 2 or 3 cups to get that same effect. Yes we build up a tolerance to caffeine and its effect on us is very individual. Some people metabolize caffeine very quickly and some are very sensitive to it. Figure out the exact amount of caffeine that gives you a boost in your training and performance but don’t overdo it all the time and expect caffeine to save you from lack of quality sleep or poor nutrition. Use it as a performance tool in your fitness and lifestyle not a crutch.
If you have made some of these mistakes in the past or saw yourself in some of these scenarios, you have some information to make a change. If you want some help making a change and having the objective guidance of a coach give us a call and let's talk about it. What have you got to lose, it’s a free call.
Train Smart and Eat Smart!
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