By Katy Gillis
Have you ever wondered what Lance Armstrong eats every day?
The answer really doesn’t matter. The important question is: how can YOU eat to turn your body into a fat-blasting, fit machine with a few abs in the middle?
Keep reading friends – you’re about to find out how!
This article will show you the 7 bare essentials you need to begin fueling your performance lifestyle with the right food. The great part is that you’re going to prepare your healthy meals in less than 15 minutes!
Yes, we know that we are what we eat. The proof is in our own pudding! Fact is, our health and performance is 80% nutrition. Yowzers! Thankfully, Lance and many others have gone before us and paved the way. Read below to see how you can make food work for you:
Tip #1: Get Your Goals Down.
Like anything, you’ll want to have a goal for your eating plan. Athletes never eat because they’re hungry – they eat with the intention to reach their goal! I’m going to imagine that your goal is to burn a few pounds of fat, and then build muscle so you can perform better in your workouts (and create the 6 pack!).
Tip #2: Balance Your Food.
Macronutrients are types of food that are required in large amounts in our daily diet, and they are Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. Balancing these macronutrients is a key ingredient. So since our goal is two-fold (shred fat, build lean muscle) we have 2 balance ratios. You can use your plate as the “pie” and break it up to be the following “slices”:
- Ratio 1: Shred Fat. You’ll want a balance of 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and 25% fat. Stay on this ratio for 3-6 weeks, and no longer than 6 weeks at a time.
- Ratio 2: Build Muscle. 30% protein, 10% fat and 60% carbohydrates on days you weight train, and 45% protein, 14% fat and 40% carbohydrates on non-weight training days (please see author’s note below).
Tip #3: Measure You Food.
You’ll need to know the proper servings of each food that you eat. This is where the science part comes in! Check out My Fitness Pal’s online tool for defining proper serving definitions: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calorie-chart-nutrition-facts. I promise that once you look up a food a few times you’ll become a pro and won’t need this handy app.
Tip #4: Clean Up Your Food.
Since you’re now eating with a purpose, you’ll also want to make sure the quality of the food you’re eating is up to par. Stick with fresh, raw vegetables and steam them if you’re going to cook. Eat fresh fruits. Whole grains. Fish. Poultry. Eggs. Beans. Etc. If you’d like to know what foods are better than others, here’s a great tool: Michi’s Ladder.
Also, you’ll want to eliminate artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners from your diet. Nix high-fructose corn syrup. No more dates with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These health culprits are easy to spot with a quick glance at the ingredients label. But remember: if you’re truly eating for a performance lifestyle, there will be VERY FEW labeled foods since you’ll be eating freshly prepared food 90% of the time.
Tip #5: Do It.
If you want to prepare these meals in 15 minutes or less, the only way to do that is to practice! And then do it again and again. When I first started out, it’d take me 40 minutes to make a healthy meal. A few months in, I was throwing things around my kitchen like a food network cooking show host and delivering super-fast healthy meals. Just like anything, practice more and become better, quicker!
Since you’re eating a pure, clean, performance nutrition lifestyle, you may miss the overly-seasoned foods of a SAD lifestyle (simple American diet). I certainly did! So what I recommend is to play and explore with different vegetables, herbs, and seasonings. Keeping it clean, I use a lot of fresh onion, lemon juice, apples, garlic, tomatoes, mango, and chili peppers. Parsnips and celery have a very unique and strong flavor, try dicing them up in your recipe for a different taste. Example: you’ll be eating a lot of chicken breast, so try chopping up some fresh mango, tomato, red onions, and a pinch of sea salt and throwing it in the pan with the chicken during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cover and let the juices and aromas create a deliciously flavorful dish of the same old white meat. Yum!
Tip#7: Plan Your Food.
I could not survive without this step! Performance nutrition requires a well thought out plan. On Sundays, plan your family’s meals for the entire week, and then go shopping and only but the foods you need for the upcoming 7 days of meals. When you shop with a purpose, you’ll save time because you won’t have to think about why you’re putting that in your cart, money because you won’t buy things that will go uneaten, AND you’ll stay on track with your eating because you won’t have unnecessary junk in the house. Win-win-win if you plan-plan-plan!
Performance nutrition is about fueling your body according to your goal. Every athlete has a goal and a purpose. I promise that if you adopt their methodology, you can fuel your body for ultimate performance…deliciously. Bon appetite!
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Author’s note: These recommendations are based on living a performance lifestyle, and that includes physical fitness training. Another thing you must consider is that everyone is different, and things such as diet and the macronutrient ratio will vary from person to person.