Best Fitness and Nutrition Advice for 2018

Christmas is over and we are rolling into 2018. There are many resolutions you'd like to accomplish but the most important are those related to your health. When it comes to taking care of your health, there are two factors that determine this: fitness and nutrition. In this blog, you will find the top fitness and nutrition tips of 2018 and how you can adopt them easily and without much effort. Small changes every day bring about big results. So, read on. 

Nutrition is going to play a major role in your progress towards your fitness goals. Focusing solely on fitness training will only bring a fraction of the results as when combined with an effective nutrition plan. We all have individual routines and habits, but there are certain nutrition strategies that are applicable across the board, and that are essential for all our diets. Here are some of the most common questions that we are asked about nutrition.

best gym in cork.png

1. What should I eat to be healthy?

Generally speaking, the vast majority of your nutrition should include vegetables, salads, meat, eggs, some nuts, and dairy (excluding foods that give you an allergic reaction or negative side effects). 

2. What is a good breakfast to eat?

We recommend a high fat and high protein breakfast, concentrating on whole foods only. An example of this would be a 3 or 4 egg omelette including vegetables, and some ham or chicken, with a plate of salad, a handful of nuts, and a piece of fruit. Having said that, it depends where you are starting from. If you currently don't eat breakfast at all, and would enjoy a nice warm bowl of porridge, then that's a great breakfast too!

3. Why is it good to eat a high protein and high fat breakfast?

Keeping the carb count low in your breakfast will help you avoid a mid morning or mid day energy slump, and also help keep your blood sugar and energy levels more consistent. Eating a breakfast high in carbohydrates consistently, especially grain or cereal based breakfasts will encourage your body to store some of that surplus energy as body fat.

4. What if I don’t have enough time to eat breakfast in the morning?

If your mornings are rushed, start to build a routine when you get out of bed that allows you some time to relax and prepare a good breakfast. Getting the day off to a good start will reduce the stress on the body and mind during the day, give you more energy, and keep the mind clearer for the day ahead, as well as give you a big helping hand in getting lean.

5. Is drinking water really that important?

Yes. Drinking enough water each day is the starting block for improved health in every sense. Do not expect to improve health, make great training gains, or burn fat if you are not drinking enough water. As a rule of thumb, drink at least 2 liters of water on days that you are not training, and 3 on days that you are. Drinking enough water will improve everything from your quality of sleep, energy, digestive system, skin, concentration, and recovery from training.

6. What 3 things can I do to get started on healthy nutrition?

1- Eat a breakfast. 2- Drink water, as described above. 3-Sleep for at least 8 hours every night.

7. I snack a lot on junk food. How can I stop this?

Stop buying junk snacks during your weekly shop. If they are not easily available, you are less likely to eat them. Inform others in the house of your goals and aspirations, and tell them that you do not want to have junk food at hand. Also stock up on healthy snacks such as mixed nuts, fruits, and homemade flapjacks.

8. How many times per day should I eat to follow a healthy nutrition plan?

As a starting point, aim for 3 main meals per day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are just starting to get into the routine of healthy eating, and you want to get lean, focus on eating ONLY 3 meals per day. When you are used to this routine, you can experiment with adding 2 small snacks in between. For example, a handful of mixed nuts, or a couple of pieces of fruit. When you have established a strong cooking and food preparation routine, you can experiment with 4 or 5 smaller meals per day instead of 3.

9. Can I eat carbs? Are carbs bad for you?

Yes. The most important thing is  finding a sustainable balance of whole, unprocessed foods, that you enjoy eating. Time your carbohydrate intake to be around your training and exercise sessions to get the most benefit out of them, and help you get lean as efficiently as possible. A good pre-workout meal includes carbohydrates to fuel you for the entire session and to allow you to burn carbs as you train.

10. I feel like I have a good diet, but I’m not seeing the results. What’s up?

It is possible to think that you have a good diet at present based on the most common recommendations that promote low fat, processed, and grain based diets. Our recommendation in this case is to start fresh with your diet. Follow the nutritional guidelines presented here, and give it at least 6 months before you fully assess the results.

11. Can I drink alcohol during  training periods?

Regular alcohol  consumption contributes to poorer food choices. It can also have a major effect on your training in the coming days, as well as promoting dehydration, and inflammation. Our recommendation for alcohol consumption during periods when you want to achieve a specific healthy body composition, or sports performance goals, is to give yourself periods of 4-6 weeks between bouts of consumption, or treat yourself to a couple of glasses of wine or beer once per week. However, as with the breakfast, it depends what your starting point is, and you can have a glass of wine or your favourite drink now and again, once it does not totally derail our progress and your efforts. 

12. Do I need a nutrition meal plan?

Meal plans often cause more damage in developing positive nutrition habits than the opposite. Having a meal plan is restrictive and tedious, and for the most part, fails to elicit the desired results. Focus on the guidelines presented here, and explore nutrient-dense,  easy-to-make recipes, and getting into the habit of preparing food on a regular basis. A meal plan can be used to top up the final couple of percent improvements in specific situations, but 95% of people simply need to follow sustainable guidelines and build positive habits for long lasting and visible results.

best fitness and nutrition tips 2018.png

13. How do I know if a food is processed?

Foods that are processed generally come in packets, and generally have ingredients in them that you will struggle to pronounce. Whole foods are single ingredient foods that have been grown, or raised.

14. Is caffeine or coffee bad for you?

If you like your coffee, use high quality beans, and keep caffeine consumption to 1-2 cups in the morning and afternoon. Caffeine after 3-4 pm will have an effect on your sleep.

15. Should I eat low fat foods?

Not necessarily. There is plenty of scientific research that supports the benefits of high fat foods. The problem comes when healthy, whole foods, that are high in natural fat, are confused with highly processed foods that contain harmful fats and high levels of accompanying salt. Naturally high fat foods such as nuts, coconut, avocado, real butter, and extra virgin olive or coconut oil are extremely healthy, and should be included in your diet. However, the same rule does apply to high fat foods as any other food or drink. Too much of anything can be bad for you, so best to find a happy medium that satisfies your tastebuds and moves you closer to your goals!

16. Is salt bad for you?

Many processed foods contain high levels of sodium, or salt, and these foods should be avoided. Regular table salt should be replaced by high quality rock salt, sea salt, or pink Himalayan rock salt, that are rich in essential nutrients. If your overall diet is mostly whole foods, you can safely add sprinkles of high quality salt to food for flavor.

17. Are fizzy drinks bad for you?

Carbonated beverages contain a ridiculous amount of sugar and many other chemicals, additives, preservatives, flavorings, and colourings. If you are serious about getting your results, these types of drinks should be eliminated from the diet. They have a very addictive quality, and eliminating them can be hard, but it is essential.

18. Can I have a ‘cheat meal’ from time to time?

In the initial phase of your training and nutritional change (2-3 weeks), stick to the plan. 3 meals per day, whole unprocessed foods, and 2-3 liters of water. You can schedule ‘cheat meal’, and get back on track once per week. if you find yourself going off track, get back on course as soon as you can. Results come from consistent positive  behavior, and it is important to commit to eating in a way that supports your goals from the very beginning.

fitness and nutrition advice 2018.png

19. Should I calorie count?

I don't personally count calories, as I prefer to eat according to the guidelines presented here instead. Counting calories will get you a one way ticket to boredom, and failure. But of course, it does suit some people to keep a close eye on calorie consumtion. 

20. How many nuts should I eat?

1 Thumb sized portion of nuts for females, and 2 thumb sized portion for males. 2-3 portions per day usually fit nicely into a daily routine.

21. If I don’t have time to eat healthily, what can I do?

Nutrition is an absolutely essential component to your success with your health and fitness goals. If you find that you are too busy to cook, prepare, or eat well, here is our recommendation; Revisit your schedule, and make time for food shopping, preparation, and consumption. This will actually save you time as soon as you start it, as you will spend less time queuing for low value foods, and running to the shops. Further, you will have more energy and better concentration to complete your days tasks more efficiently. If you find that it’s just not possible at the moment to find the time, you can order foods in for a day or a week from from a company that provides this service to a high standard.