Getting Training Results: Why Diet Matters

Let’s be clear right from the start: when I say ‘diet’, I am not meaning eating only grapefruit, dry greens and low fat cottage cheese. Although these can be part of a healthy diet, they are not for everyone.

“Diet” simply means the foods and drinks that you consume on a regular basis. 

I do not mean the typical way ‘diet’ is portrayed where a person is ‘on a diet’ to lose weight. This tends to be what most people think of when they hear the word ‘diet’. My hope with post is to have you rethink the word diet and learn some ways to fuel your body to help meet your training and health goals.

I encourage you to take a look at what you are consuming now and see if it’s aligned with your health and fitness goals. If it’s not, I would like to provide you with some direction to get you from where you are now to where you would like to be: consuming a diet that will help you achieve your health, fitness and body composition goals.

**Quick note: Notice that I used the words body composition, this is because ‘body composition’  is the makeup of our bodies–our adipose tissue and our lean mass.**

Why what we eat matters

What we fuel our bodies with can help us feel energized or make us feel lethargic. Food and drink can help us power through the day with a pep in our step or crawl through it. Are we fueling our body with wholesome nutrition or empty calories? Are we drinking enough water? Are we eating too many calories for our activity level or too little calories?

These are all great questions.

Your own answers to those questions can help you on the path to understanding whether you’re fueling your body with enough good nourishment to will help you thrive and get sh*t done….

Or whether how you’re fueling your body may need some tweaking so that you aren’t always feeling like you need a nap.

If you feel low-energy, take a look at your food and drink choices:

Is your food colorful? (Not counting artificial colors, this is a good way to tell if your food provides you with lots of different vitamins and minerals).

If you look down at your plate (or your take-out container), is the food mostly one color? If it’s mostly some hue of white-, then this is a clue into why your energy level may be feeling a little zapped. You’ll need to start adding some color and most likely protein as well.

Does it include protein sources to fuel your muscles to stay strong and grow stronger? Protein also helps you feel satisfied at the end of a meal.

Do you have water close by to easily drink?

Is there some fat? But not too much. Is it the healthier kind-think olive oil, or was it mostly from a bunch of friend food?

To change body composition: lose fat/gain muscle and lose overall body weight or gain weight via more muscle mass, then we need to examine if we are consuming enough protein, colorful carbs and healthy fats each time we have a meal or snack. These combinations will help us thrive not only in our daily life, but have us feeling energized going into our training sessions.

How does this relate to body composition changes?

We all know exercise is good for us and that exercise can help us with our body composition goals, but exercise alone doesn’t always help us get to where we aspire to go. If you’ve been training for some time now and not seeing the results you were hoping for, it’s probably time to take a look at how you are fueling your body and how you can improve your diet.

Studies show [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] that adding dietary changes can help a person achieve their weight and body comp goals, while exercise alone quite often falls short.

Are ready to focus on nutrition? I hope so! Now let’s chat about how to add this component to your fitness journey? You’ll want to keep track of what you are currently consuming and then make changes from there.

What are you consuming now?

The best way to begin is to track what you eat and drink for 3 typical days. I say “typical” days because you want them to be representative of your average food intake. For example, if you eat pretty well all week long and then eat nothing but sugar and fat foods all weekend, then it might be best to not choose Friday through Sunday. Choose Thursday through Saturday to get a quick snap shot of your “typical”. Generally, I suggest tracking two “weekdays” and one “weekend” day-whatever that means for you.

There are many ways you can track this:

  • Actual journal or a couple of sheets of paper.
  • A note app on your phone.
  • A specific app on your phone or tablet for food journaling.
    • YouAte and Bitesnap are digital food journals. (You can find others by searching “food journal”).
    • My Fitness Pal & My Diet Coach can be food journals and calorie counters. (For others, search “food tracker”).
    • There are definitely more to choose from, the ones listed above are a few that I know and the only one I have personal experience with is My Fitness Pal.
  • Voice notes and photos

Whichever way you choose to track your food/drink, track it as accurately as possible. Here’s an example of a good journal entry and one that is a little more detailed and provides a better picture of what a person ate.

You can see from the column on the right that there is some tracking of quantity. You don’t have to go crazy with measuring every little amount of food or beverage you’re consuming, but being too general or vague is not super helpful. For example, don’t write coffee if you had a large latte with whipped cream and extra sugar. Coffee alone is too vague. Write what was in it, black coffee with a spoonful of sugar, for example. This will provide a more accurate look into the calories being consumed in the day.

As a nutritional coach when I see your journal, I want to see all the things you’re consuming. Please don’t eat healthier on my account–this doesn’t help you in the long run.

Now that you have a food journal, review it.

See where you are eating your veggies and protein. See how much water or other beverages you’re drinking. Did you forget a food group completely? Do you eat one food group or one type of food a lot? Once you have a physical record of what you are consuming, you can then use it to help make changes towards your health and fitness goals.

Do you need to add more protein, some at each meal. Do you need to add more veggies? Change the amount of simple carbs your intaking? Having a journal can really paint a nice picture.

If it all seems a little overwhelming, that’s totally valid. This can feel overwhelming for many people. For your own sake, please don’t chuck the journal and give up on your goals– ask for help! You may have a knowledgable friend or family member or someone who eats healthy and knows the difference between a carb and a protein. But if not, this is where professional help may be needed to help direct you towards your goals.

Options for nutrition help:

  • See a nutritionist
    • This is particularly helpful when you have unique dietary restrictions stemming from a health or medical issue.
  • Buy an app that has a monthly fee that hooks you up to a nutritionist to help you with your goals.
    • This is a good option if you already have a good idea about what to eat (and what not to eat) and you’re just looking for some accountability.
  • Contact Us
    • We are a certified nutrition coaches with Precision Nutrition and can help you come up with a step-by-step weekly plan, making small changes at a pace that is right for you.

Whatever you choose, I hope that this helped give you some tools to start seeing how fueling your body with good nutritious food is a large piece in meeting your fitness and body composition goals.

Happy Training~~ Theresa