Sometimes when you look at a nutrition program, it can seem to be a daunting task to tackle as a whole. I hear many reasons as to why people are finding it hard to commit to a particular program. Often, macro calculation, nutrient timing, carb and fat blocks, etc., can be difficult concepts to grasp all at once. Following a flexible nutrition program and figuring out this huge game of “food Tetris” doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. As your coach and supporter I am here to help! I have come up with some handy tips to try and help you out… particularly in those beginning stages.
- Cows & Chickens Can Be Friends!
When you buy ground beef, try to opt for 93/7 beef (93% lean/7% fat). However, even the leanest beef still tends to carry more fat content than a quality brand of ground chicken. It is hard for me to tell my clients to cook only with ground chicken, because it can be so dry and flavorless! This is why I recommend “half and half” creations, where we mix lean beef and chicken in the same dish or recipe! Try and keep it even. For example, if making “half and half burgers”, take 16oz of 93/7 beef and 16oz of ground chicken, mix them together, season them, then separate them into eight 4oz patties that you can easily grill up on a bar-b-que, or simply pan sear right in your kitchen! This brings the fat content down per serving while still allowing you to enjoy a nice juicy burger!
- Fat Free Cream Cheese For The Win!
Fat free and low fat dairy products can sometimes be a saving grace. Lets talk about cream cheese, a product made with skim milk which eliminates the fat carried by its “regular” counterpart. You can use fat free cream cheese in places you never would have imagined to make anything a bit creamier! My favorite spot to add some cream cheese is in potatoes. Whether you prefer sweet potatoes, or white potatoes, adding in some fat free cream cheese after they have been mashed and warmed up is a great way to make them a bit smoother and creamier (just like grandma's)! For extra zing and flavor, add in some cinnamon or pumpkin spice (it’s the season right?)…your taste buds will thank you later!
- Don’t Complicate Your Veggies!
We can all agree that vegetables are much better served fresh, rather than frozen. But, stop making cooking so complicated! Vegetables cook relatively fast in the oven (anywhere from 10-25 minutes at 325 degrees). They also stay just fine in the fridge for about 4-6 days at a time – plenty of time for you to eat your way through them. So, lets be efficient – cook a large amount (as much as you can fit on 2-3 baking sheets) of them at the same time. Take a baking sheet out, line it with foil, clean and cut the veggies, spray with some cooking spray, season, insert into the oven and put the timer on. In minutes you will have fresh, cooked veggies that will last you the whole week. If you are a fan of the “charred” veggie – switch the oven to broil for the last few minutes!
- Carb’s Favorite Activity is Exercise!
Rule of thumb here is to try and keep 70-75% of you daily carb allotment around your exercise time. If you are a morning exerciser, you should begin consuming carbs with breakfast and taper off throughout the day. If you are an evening exerciser, your mornings should consist of mainly protein and fats – while waiting to incorporate carbs in more volume toward the end of your day. Lets also not forget that consuming carbs before bed time is actually beneficial to rest and recovery of damaged (growing and strengthening) muscle tissues. If you find yourself at the end of the day with some carbs left in the bank – don’t be afraid to use them on something fun!
- If You Mess Up, You’re Just Like the Rest of Us!
Nobody is perfect. If you fall off track or aren’t successful following your plan one day, it is okay. Life will go on! A common theme I hear is people explaining that they knew they had already missed their daily macros and decided to have a “free for all day” and eat/drink everything in sight until their stomach hurt. We need to understand that a messed up day of macro calculating doesn’t need to turn into a scene from 300 with food. One meal, or even day, will not be the end of the world. As a competitive athlete, or an aspiring athlete, we need to eat responsibly - even when we fall off plan a bit. That is totally normal and will happen sometimes when life gets in the way. Do not let it carry on, get right back on track the next day with your numbers. There is no need to “undercut” or under consume to “make up for it”. Just do it right today.
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