As a professional athlete, good nutrition is obviously incredibly important to me. I was fortunate enough to be raised by athletic parents who gave me a great grounding in healthy eating from an early age.
Many guys aren’t so lucky. There’s a lot of misinformation about nutrition out there, spread by celebrity fad diets or simple lack of knowledge. Follow these six tips, however, and you’re guaranteed to be healthier, happier, and well on your way to achieving your goals.
1. Have a Specific Goal
Lots of people say “I want to eat healthier”... but what does that actually mean?!
To create a nutrition plan that works for you, you need to have specific goals in mind. Do you want to lose fat? Get stronger? Become a more explosive athlete? Deciding what you actually want to achieve in the long term should be the first thing you do.
2. Plan Ahead
There are two keys to a successful nutritional plan.
Firstly, you need to know the kinds and quantities of foods you’ll be eating. If you’re looking to get stronger, compliment your lifting workouts with a high protein diet and a calorie surplus. If you want to boost your stamina, focus on high energy, slow-release food types like complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, but try to balance your calories to avoid gaining fat.
Secondly, you need to plan around your specific lifestyle. Like me, a lot of you guys might travel around a lot. In that case, you need to either prepare food in advance and take it with you, or identify healthy food places where you can chow down. You know the old saying about eating on the go: fail to plan ahead, and you’ll end up at McDonald’s. If you work a time-consuming office job, prepping your meals for the week in advance and taking a portion with you each day is a great way to stay clear of the cafeteria.
3. Be Scientific
There’s no mystery to food. How your body looks is simply the result of the food you put into it, combined with the amount and type of exercise you do.
Research how much of each food group (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc.) you should be eating, again based on your goals. If you’re trying to gain muscle, for example, use a calculator like this one to work out how many grams of protein you require. Then, just make sure you’re getting that amount of protein. If your priority is losing fat, check the nutritional information on all the food you eat and make sure it’s low in things like sugar, saturated fats and carbohydrates.
None of this is rocket science - all it requires is a little effort on your part!
4. Take It Step-by-Step
Whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight, do it gradually. Don’t halve or double your calorie intake overnight, or you’ll destroy your energy levels. Remember that - even though it’s important - your diet is just one part of your life. You still need to function well at school or at work, and be the friendly, happy-go-lucky guy you normally are (maybe), even while you’re making this life change.
5. Have Patience
We’ve all done it.
You finally decide to cut out snacking, get hunger pangs all day, feel great about yourself when you finally make it through, get undressed that night and look in the mirror, and… you haven’t magically sprouted an eight pack.
Or you get home after a great weights session at the gym, rip off your shirt expecting to look like The Rock, and then… you kinda look just like you did yesterday. We’ve all done that one too, right? It’s not just me?
We live in a time of instant gratification. We want things now, whether that’s our TV programs, our news, or our Amazon deliveries. The body doesn’t work that way. Improving ourselves - whether that’s athletically or aesthetically - takes time, and there are no shortcuts.
You need to start off this new nutritional plan thinking in terms of weeks and months, not hours or days. But if you put the time into creating a smart, scientific strategy that works for you, you stick to it, and you compliment it with regular exercise, then I guarantee you’ll achieve your goals.