Entry by Antony Nyman Personal Trainer and co-founder of Antics Fitness. Follow him on Twitter: @
How many calories should I be eating? Are carbs good or bad? What’s the best source of protein?
Understanding nutrition can be a minefield. So many ‘experts’ swearing by a certain way of eating that they promise will be ‘the best’ for a certain goal.
Let’s take things right back to basics. Everybody’s different. We all have different requirements depending on aspects such as our fitness goal, our age, gender, lifestyle etc.
For the purpose of this piece I’m going to explain what I have found most effective for both myself, and my clients, with the aim being to promote optimal health.
Our bodies will find it easier to digest food that grew from the ground. Fibrous carbs like green leafy veg and certain fruits, in particular berries. Eating 3-4 servings of this a day, along with 2-3 pieces of fruit will promote a healthy digestive system, help keep you feeling full and help stabilise blood sugar levels.
Partner this with protein. Protein is made up of amino acids which will essentially repair and ‘feed’ muscle tissue. I’m not talking about ‘muscle men’ we see on the front of protein powders. I’m referring to everybody. If you don’t have muscle you are a skeleton in which case I’ve reached you too late. In short, eat lean proteins like poultry and fish, with a small amount of red meat to ensure your muscles are fed properly.
“I can’t eat nuts, they’re too high in fat”. Oi oi oi as my Nana would say. Fats have got themselves a bad reputation since we named the bit of blubber hiding our 6 pack after them. The fact is that fats are essential for energy. In fact they’re called essential fatty acids. Unsaturated fats are widely known as the ‘healthy fats’ and can be divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Foods high in polyunsaturated fats such as oily fish and seeds, lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and raises your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Foods containing monounsaturated fats such as avocadoes, nuts and olive oil can also help to lower your bad cholesterol whilst containing high levels of vitamin E, which is a strong antioxidant. One word of warning is that there are more calories per gram of fat than there are in protein and carbohydrates, meaning portion size should therefore be smaller.
Now finally it would be ludicrous to speak about the basics of nutrition without mentioning the importance of keeping hydrated. The reasons for being well hydrated are endless but that’s for another time. Everything from metabolism to liver function rely on you being well hydrated. A minimum of 2 litres of water a day is generally deemed acceptable but I’ve found nearer 3 litres to have a better affect both mentally and physically.
So there you have it. In a nutshell (pardon the pun) a diet rich in lean proteins, healthy fats and fibrous carbs, along with 3 litres of water a day will give your body the fuel it needs to look and feel awesome. Keep it simple, your body will thank you for it!