Wednesday 1 August 2012

Healthy AND Appropriate Nutrition

Throughout my career as a trainer and nutrition coach, I've had a conversation similar to the following countless times. “I just can't seem to lose fat/gain muscle.” My response, “Let's look at your eating.” The person’s reply, “I’m eating good, that’s why I can’t figure out why I’m not losing fat/gaining muscle.”

While it is possible that some of these people could be eating horribly and simply lying to my face, there can be two other issues here. One is that the person does not know what healthy eating really is. With all the conflicting information out there, that is possible. In this case, some basic nutrition education will get the person back on track. Other times, the issue is that the person is eating healthy but they are not eating appropriately for their goal.
If you are not at or currently moving towards your ideal body composition or level of muscle mass, then your eating plan is inappropriate!

A Fat Loss Example:
For example, take the following meal:
Inappropriate Fat Loss Meal
  • 2 cups of organic, whole-grain kamut pasta
  • 1 cup of organic tomato pasta sauce
  • 2-3 oz extra lean free range ground turkey breast (mixed in with the sauce instead of beef)
  • 1 green salad with vinaigrette dressing
Is this meal healthy? Compared to what 99% of North Americans eat, this is a very healthy meal. This would be a very appropriate post game/practice/training meal. However, if the goal is fat loss and you have not just finished an intense training session, is it appropriate? Absolutely not! Very few people would be able to lose body fat eating this many carbohydrates in a meal.

Here is a better example of a healthy and appropriate meal for fat loss:
Appropriate Fat Loss Meal
  • 4 oz wild salmon (you can still use the tomato sauce over the salmon if you want)
  • 1 cup grilled asparagus
  • 1 green salad with olive oil and spices for dressing
Now, we have a meal is full of high-quality protein, healthy fats and vegetables – a very appropriate fat loss meal.

A Muscle Gain Example:
For a second example, what about this meal?
  • 2 organic egg vegetable omelette
  • 2 slices of sprouted grain toast dipped in olive oil (instead of butter)
Is this a healthy? Absolutely! However, if the goal is muscle gain this meal is far from appropriate. Here's how we could modify this meal for muscle gain:
  • 3-4 organic egg vegetable omelette
  • 2-3 slices of sprouted grain toast dipped in olive oil
  • 1-2 pieces of fresh fruit
  • Healthy hashbrowns (chop up a previously baked potato or yam and cook in coconut oil)
  • 3 oz. ground bison meat
Now, we have a meal that is still fairly healthy and will work for an individual with the goal of gaining lean muscle.

Do your best to make healthier food choices but also consider modifying your meals to match individual needs and goals. Seek both healthy and appropriate food choices. If fat loss is your goal, check out part 1 and part 2 of eating for athletic fat loss. I also have an upcoming Fat Loss Workshop on September 22nd. Also, stay tuned for much more info on eating for fat loss and muscle gain in future blog posts.

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