When it comes to most things in life,
It’s never the ultra complex,
ninja-strategies that produce the best results.
It’s always the simple things done well and consistently that makes the biggest difference.
We talked about this .
If you’re a former athlete looking to get back into shape,
so that you can lose fat,
look, feel and move better,
and even take your weekend warrior rec games to the next level,
then nutrition needs to be a priority.
But, like we said…it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
It’s just a few key habits that can help turn around your ever-expanding belly,
your decrement in your sport performance,
and those dreadful trips to the doctor’s office where you don’t know if it’s a clean slate or another pill bottle for the medicine cabinet.
Here are 4 keys habits you can use to get back into high-performance shape.
1-Eat lean protein
There have been so many articles written on protein that I think it’s nearly impossible that you haven’t come across one of them.
I’m sure you know that protein can:
Increase your metabolism simply by eating it (via the thermic effect of food)
Increase lean muscle mass
Increase immune system function
Build up your hormones
and even suppress your appetite so you don’t overeat
In fact, one study showed that people who increased protein intake actually ate 441 less Calories per day (Weigle at al, 2005).
The recommendation for protein is about 2 palm-sized servings at each meal for guys and 1 palm-sized serving for girls.
This can include chicken, turkey, fish, beef, pork, eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt and beans and legumes.
2-Eat the rainbow
I think it’s safe to say that you enjoy being energized,
feeling a sense of vigour,
and not falling asleep at your desk at work.
Colourful veggies provide nutrients that help us stay energized,
that help our bodies burn fat,
that help our bodies move and function well,
and allow you to not feel like a sluggish blob running up and down the field.
Colour = nutrients,
Nutrients = health and performance.
Not only can veggies give you energy and help you perform well,
they can make you feel fuller longer,
they contribute to gut health and
they can help prevent a whole host of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
The typical recommendation is 2 fist-sized servings of vegetables for guys and 1 fist-sized serving of vegetables for girls at each meal.
Colourful vegetables include brussel sprouts, spinach, carrots, okra, purple cabbage, beets, tomatoes and fresh herbs like basil and cilantro.
And if you can get fresh, in-season vegetables from some of the here in Manitoba, then you can really maximize the nutrients you get from your food (and feel good about supporting local farmers).
3-Eat healthy fats
We talked extensively about fats and .
The big take-away for fats is that..
Fats make you feel satiated and thus less likely to overeat,
Fats taste delicious,
and fats help out your hormones so you can restore you energy, improve your libido and crush your training sessions.
The recommendation for fats include 2 thumbs of healthy fat at each meal for guys and 1 thumb per meal for girls.
Healthy fats include coconut oil, peanut butter, nuts, avacado, butter and olive oil.
4-Make high-performance carb choices
We talked extensively about this .
So, we don’t need to over do it.
But, the main take-aways are that…
High performance carbs can fuel your performance on the field, court or ice,
and they can help keep your brain sharp for making split second decisions in the game and smarter decisions in life.
Having high performance carbs can allow you to play harder,
They harder you play,
The more fat you’ll burn,
and the better you’ll look.
So, look at carbs on a continuum of high performance to low performance.
High performance carbs would be things like berries, melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, rice, oats, spelt, teff, etc.
Low performance carbs would be things like highly refined and processed candy, doughnuts, cakes, etc.
And then in the middle you would have your breads, pastas, and so on.
So, don’t see these things as “bad” or “good”.
Everyone needs to have a little piece of cake every once and while.
But, look at these carbs as more conducive to high performance and less conducive to high performance.
We typically recommend 2 cupped handfuls of high performance carbs at each meal for guys and one cupped handful for girls.
Bonus habit: Sleep 7-9 hours per night
We talk about this alot .
And here is an .
But, when it comes to sleep, all you can really do is give yourself the best opportunity to get some.
Ideally, you would get 7-9 hours per night but that may be a lofty objective for you, so try this:
If you sleep five hours, try to get five hours and fifteen minutes by going to bed five hours and thirty minutes before you need to wake up.
Then build up to five and half hours, then six, then six and a half, etc…
and to really give yourself the best chance to sleep, use a sleep ritual 30-60 minutes before you settle in for the night.
This can include:
Shutting off electronics 30-60 minutes before bed
Dimming the lights around the house 30-60 minutes before bed
Taking a bath with magnesium salts
Foam rolling or stretching
Hanging with your kids, wife or pets
And when it’s time to sleep:
Make your room as dark as possible
Make it a little cooler if possible
And a few cautions:
No caffeine 8 hours before bed
Minimal alcohol before bed (1-2 drinks male, 0-1 drink female)
Eat a normal meal a couple hours before bed
Don’t drink a ton of water before you settle in
Don’t bring your phone with you into your bedroom (if you use it as an alarm, put it out of reach, on the other side of the room).
Anticipate, plan and strategize
Just like using a bed ritual prepares you for a good night’s sleep, planning and preparing what you are going to eat is essential for making changes to your body.
Whether it’s planning meals with your family and then grocery shopping together,
preparing your meals as a family,
scheduling time to eat into your calendar,
using a meal prep service like rede meal prep to get your meals delievered when you have no time to shop and cook,
or having protein powder and greens powder ready for when you travel and can’t get these nutrients in,
It’s all about anticipating the challenges ahead,
planning how you will attack them,
and strategizing the best ways to be successful.
Being an athlete isn’t just something that you are when it’s convenient for you,
it’s who you are at the very core,
so, prepare to attack your athletic habits at every opportunity.
Remember that guy on your team?
That rock-star that just couldn’t mess up,
nailed every 3,
whipped every cut,
and never missed a shot.
Yeah, that guy.
This guy just had confidence oozing from his ears.
Whatever he tried, he succeeded at.
We all know that guy.
He was confident,
He had belief,
He had swagger,
But, guess what?
This can be you.
Do stuff that you are super confident you can do (even if it’s not a super-grand ninja habit – remember the most important things are the simple things).
Put structures and systems in place to get things done.
Believe you can do what you are setting out to do.
There are rumours from coaches around the city that Jonathon Toews believed that he was going to score on every shift.
That’s where the seed of accomplishment is planted – in your own head…as a belief.
Without belief, nothing can grow.
So, believe you can achieve.
And the best way to believe you can achieve is to set habits that you are 90% confident you can accomplish.
In doing this, you’ll create a success snowball.
Once you experience success once, you’ll get some belief.
Once you gain some belief and confidence,
you’ll experience some more success
and then you’ll get some more belief and confidence.
And the positive cycle will continue on and on.
So, when you are setting out to change your performance nutrition habits, pick one habit you want to attack right away,
adjust it so you are 90% confident you can do it.
And then start taking action.
Performance nutrition is not a meal plan that you follow for the rest of your life.
It is about developing habits that you can apply to nearly every situation in your life.
Whether it’s managing to get lean protein when travelling,
eating colourful vegetables during the holidays,
Or making high performance carb choices when travelling for work,
it’s all about seeing yourself as an athlete and asking “what would an athlete do?”
If you’d like to learn more about how to harness your inner athlete in the service of losing fat,
getting into better shape,
gaining some energy and vitality,
and actually feeling good about they way you look,
then freel free to check out our
In it, you’ll get one on-court session per week with Coach Jon Giesbrecht,
Two strength and conditioning sessions per week with Coach Brent Lohmer,
and performance nutrition coaching with coach Brent Lohmer.
We’ll teach you how to not only be an athlete again,
but how to be a high performance human.
And if you’re unsure and just want to try it out,
check out our .