Stop it. Stop diets, trendy nutrition plans and crazily adjusting macronutrients to lose weight, manage performance and clean up eating patterns. Don’t even get me started on gut health and being a glutton for gluten. Let’s deal with a simple, athletic approach to clean eating and helping your performance along with managing body weight.
Response eating. What is it? Well, you’ll hear more about it as we get out more Fitness Truth and launch our nutrition program. Response eating is eating as a result of your daily training and living cycle within the context of a weekly training program. It’s more than calories in versus calories out. It’s about caloric choices in relationship to the timing of training. The problem is that you manage body weight or perform a certain way by looking at a daily nutrition program that is supposed to be virtually the same each week. But what if your training volume or intensity increases, decreases or simply stays the same? Your food choices should absolutely reflect your training output.
Macronutrients have roles. Protein helps tissue repair and muscle growth. Carbohydrates help with hydration and energy. Fats are the preferred source of fuel and can also affect hormone levels. They all affect your body weight and training performance not to mention your energy, speed to recovery, prep for the next session and sleep. We'll give you more detail in the coming months, but let’s start there.
Here are a few key areas to consider with Response Eating. Do this right and you’ll find you can get lean, get strong, gain weight, recover faster, perform better and have better overall energy.
Protein at every key meal. Mix in some quality protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip meals! The goal is to keep your calorie furnace burning and protein helps this process.
Go dark green. Focus on at least 2 meals a day that contain dark, green vegetables. This is where the nutrient density is preferable for athletes. Spinach, kale, arugula, broccoli and swiss chard are solid choices.
Complimentary Fat. Remember, fat is 9 calories per gram so be selective on what good fat you choose as well as how much you consume. Preferred choices are cold water fish (wild preferred), healthy oils and avocado (organic).
Eat protein, fat and carbohydrate within an hour of training. It may be a good idea for some of you to consume a high quality protein shake immediately after training if your meal may get pushed a bit. This helps to repair tissue immediately, level out blood sugar and set your body up for protein synthesis to occur.
Go 80-20. Many people that get caught up in fad diets or trendy eating plans usually don’t see results for the long term. And if they do, they may be robbing their body of metabolic strength or be in danger of having a nutrient deficiency which can be problematic. Eating is fun! Reward yourself. If you eat clean and healthy 80% of the week, then 20% fun food adventures shouldn’t mess you up. Of course, be sensible and remember that if you choose to go 20% crazy on the weekends, know that your training may suffer for 1-2 days after, depending how deep you went.
Train hard, eat more. Train less, eat less. Conversely, if you are missing days (training only 3 days a week) or not doing enough load or intensity, you are at a disadvantage! Your body wants to take in calories to use for a chemical purpose – this means that what you eat should mainly go to muscle/tissue repair/building, energy (sustained) or to helping hormone balance and function. We’ll get into more details in the near future but know that you also don’t have to over-analyze your exact calories! Your daily activity rate also affects this equation (i.e. someone who sits all day at a desk v. an active job like a construction worker).
Response eating is smart. It works. It takes the guessing game out of counting calories and it’s easy to adjust for body weight gain, loss or maintenance. There’s a few other key data points all athletes should start with, like knowing how to track energy levels, recovery reference numbers and waking readiness. We'll spell out that soon. Eating should be easy!