5 Habits, Superfoods, and me

I’ve been fairly happy with my diet over the last few years, but that being said, I’m not as lean as I would like to be, and I’ve known I could be making better choices. Since finishing my Precision Nutrition certification, however, I’ve decided I’d better crack the whip and get myself into gear.

Fortunately Precision Nutrition isn’t a specific “diet” so I’m not really restricted to anything or more importantly, a lack of anything. Since I want to have a good idea of the different approaches presented, I’ve started with the “5 Habits and Superfood” based nutrition. I like this approach because, as the name might indicate, it’s a few simple guidelines with some (super)food suggestions. That’s it. So what does a day on my new PN “diet” look like? (The correct answer is yummy…)

Breakfast: Chopped apple and berries with light greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chocolate protein powder, plus a large glass of water, my fish oil tablets and multivitamin.

Mid-morning snack: Veggie sticks (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower), homemade hummus, and two hard boiled eggs. plus a cup of green tea.

Lunch: Thai green curry with chicken, based on a recipe from PN’s own Georgie Fear. If you need some help with healthy and delicious in the kitchen, check out her blog and recipes. She’s awesome!

Mid-afternoon snack: Chocolate zucchini protein cupcakes and carrot sticks with a glass of water.

During and immediately post-training: Protein shake.

Dinner (45 minutes post-training): Thai curry from lunch, with half a cup of brown rice.

Dinner x 2 (I went on a photo-taking adventure with Chez and was starving again when we got home!): Chopped apple, greek yogurt, and protein powder. Cup of black tea with milk and a chocolate chipper (another Ask Georgie recipe).

The majority of my days look like this (minus the chipper at the end of the night, that’s not really supposed to be there!), with the biggest differences being lunch – usually a spinach salad with quinoa and hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken or steak, depending on what’s in the fridge, and dinner is usually something similar, or grilled steak/chicken/fish and steamed veggies.

I’m still working on adding a few more things to be super-compliant with the “5 Habits and Superfoods” approach, but it’s all coming along. I’ve been on the “eat frequently” bandwagon for a long time, so having a meal every 2-4 hours is not a problem. In fact, if it goes a lot longer than that, watch out. I’m also a-ok with a high protein diet, but am working on subbing more beans in for the animal proteins. And since my current goal is to lean out, I’m cutting out starchy carbs, which has been much less of an issue than I had imagined. Overall, I’m actually really enjoying the minor tweaks to my normal nutritional approach, and eating clean means I’m well-fueled and feeling awesome – and those extra choc chippers that sometimes sneak in are less guilt inducing!

To learn more about the 5 Habits and Super food approach, or how Precision Nutrition can help you feel great and achieve your training and physique goals, contact me here.

Precision Nutrition Qualified!

After finishing the textbook yesterday and reviewing the Unit 1 video lectures (all the science ones), I bit the bullet last night and had a crack at the Precision Nutrition Exam. It took me a little longer than I had thought, about an hour and a half, but I came through with flying colours and I’m now a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach! Woo hoo!

I’m pretty excited, and I haven’t been this motivated or felt this passionate about my job in a long time. Even better, I think I’m less likely to lose my drive for it again anytime soon, thanks to the enthusiastic online PN community. Not only has this helped me tons with my ability to plan and coach the nutrition side of health, performance, and body composition (the Precision Nutrition lingo), but the whole course has really inspired me to continue to grow and refine myself as a coach.

If you are interested to learn more about the Precision Nutrition system, you can check them out at www.precisionnutrition.com. I’m also going to be looking for a few people on whom to trial my new skills, so if you are interested in making in a change to your health, performance, and body composition – please get in touch (I’m only going to do a few freebies and some of the spots are already taken, so be quick).

It’s got electrolytes! …So?

Based on my continued Precision Nutrition education…

If you’ve ever seen Idiocracy, you know that in the future, people appreciate electrolytes a lot more than they do today. Sure, we have Gatorade. But they have Brawndo.

While these people clearly don’t know much, they obviously know that electrolytes are important (even if they don’t know why). If only they could figure out how to use the internet to find this post, where we explain the basics behind the brawn.

What are electrolytes? Do you even know?

Electrolytes are ionized forms of certain mineral in our diets. When dissolved in water, sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium each carry an electrical charge, thanks to the gain or loss of an electron. Sometimes called salts, electrolytes are present in both intracellular and extracellular (vascular and interstitial) fluids. In order to maintain optimal physiological function, we need to maintain a correct electrolyte balance. Continue reading

PN Week 1

One of the main topics covered in this first installment is the question: What is good nutrition, exactly? Dr. Berardi (who will henceforth be referred to as “JB” for typing ease) makes a good point when bringing up this topic – everyone has their own answer (for the record, mine has always been along the lines of “balanced diet”, an answer which was shot down in the same paragraph).

Turns out there are a few “must haves” in order for nutrition to really be good – and it’s not all about what or how much you eat. These things matter as well, of course, but it goes beyond that: Good nutrition takes into consideration how what you eat affects you, as well as what you’re actually putting in your mouth.

This Will NOT Be An Amazing Revelation

The higher the quality of the food and drink you ingest – whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean meats, etc. – the better off you will be, from a health and a fitness perspective both. You probably learned that in 2nd grade along with the food pyramid (and probably in every health/PE class you’ve had since then. It bears mentioning again though, because good nutrition will help you achieve your health and fitness goals far more than any exercise will do. It’ll also keep you looking good – bonus!

Too Much Is… Too Much?

Quantity is just as important. Weight gain or loss, whether in the form of muscle or fat, can be traced back to your energy balance, which is the net of your energy intake and energy output. Positive energy balance occurs with an energy intake greater than an energy output. This is easily demonstrated by weight gain, in the form of fat: when you eat more calories than you expend during your daily activities, your body will store that excess as fat, in turn leading to a whole host of health problems (and leaving you looking not-so-good in that swimsuit). This is a HUGE problem in Western cultures, given our easy access to lots of calorie-dense, nutrient-empty foods, and our tendency to sit a lot (in the car going to work, at work, on the way home, on the couch after dinner, etc.). And the knee jerk to the creeping weight gain? Better go on a diet!

Except that a negative energy balance (when your energy intake is lower than your energy output) can cause problems of its own. Restrict your energy intake too much, and your body will start shutting down every non-essential process it can, including your metabolism – not ideal when you want to lose that excess body fat! It also will slow or halt other processes. Reproductive function can come to a screeching halt, and even your brain function can slow right down (thinking actually does use a lot of energy – who would have thought…). None of this is good news if you A) want to be healthy, B) want to perform well, or C) look good naked.

The Truth Hurts (Sometimes, Anyway)

Possibly the most important aspect of good nutrition is, well, you. Not so much your cells or digestive system, but the bit that decides whether or not to stop for chocolate on the way home from work. As pointed out in the Precision Nutrition text, most people simply don’t have a very good idea of what they eat, something I’ve found through my experience coaching both athletes and personal training clients. A lot of people think they eat really well, but when they take a couple days to record what, how much, and when you eat and/or drink, it results can be quite surprising.

This honesty in nutrition and diet goes hand in hand with how well it works, too. The results you get from the health, performance and body composition standpoints will tell you how good your diet really is. I have a client who swore up and down that he only ever had salads for lunch, and ate really well at home – and wasn’t losing any of the weight he wanted off. Well, several food diaries and several less drinks per week later, he’s well on his way to the next pants-size down (awesome work, by the way – you know who you are).  The point of it all? No matter how good you think you’re being, if the results aren’t coming, you might need to re-evaluate.

And that’s my thoughts on that. As mentioned, each time I get through a chapter (or at least once a week) I’m going to share my take on it. Knowledge is power – enjoy!