One of the hardest things as a sports performance specialist is answering questions from people who want a one-word answer about how to attain their goals. Whether it is, “how do I get abs?” or “how do I jump higher, run faster?” it’s never going to be a single faceted answer. Improving athletic performance and fitness involves following a specific program designed to improve your goals and following that training with adequate recovery outside of training. Although “recovery” is a very broad term, I am referring specifically to adequate sleep and nutrition. When I get questions from young athletes I often use this silly analogy: in order for a plant to grow it needs three things; soil, water and sunlight. Just like you need to work hard, eat well, and get lots of sleep. The good news about this formula is that if you’re working out with one of us at SSP, the training program is done for you, which just leaves eating and sleeping. Both can be challenging to achieve at an optimal level, but I’ll assume you already know that you need 8 hours of sleep for your body to be “optimal”, which leaves us with eating. This is where I begin to set the stage for you to start to make smarter choices when it comes to “fueling” your body with quality foods at just the right time. Not only what you eat, but also when you eat and how much you eat affects how you are going to feel, perform, recover and look.
It has been noticeably evident that the largest hurdle people face in the simple fitness equation is how to eat for progress. I’m pretty certain we all know how to eat to sustain ourselves and you might even consider yourself good at it. Eating to sustain and eating for progress in your fitness goals are completely different and I want to begin to introduce the 5 concepts we use at SSP to start to mold our clients’ diets to work for them instead of against their goals.
The 5 concepts we use to “optimize” our diets are:
4) Caloric Intake (quantity)
5) Structure of diet
I want to stress that these were not listed in order of importance, but rather each is a piece of the puzzle that completes a person’s diet. In the coming weeks I will be dedicating my blog to one of these components of our nutrition methodology to further explore each of these concepts. I am extremely excited to shed some light on this topic, as I feel that there are a lot of misconceptions and a general lack of knowledge when it comes to eating for health, fitness, or athletic performance.
Look for my next blog focusing on the first concept of, pre/during/post exercise nutrition strategies. I will be writing about research-based ideas that will help fuel your workout and also cut down your recovery time significantly!