5 Components to Master Your Nutrition
Improving your nutrition can be overwhelming! There’s A LOT of conflicting and confusing information on social media and television. It’s hard to know where to start. There’s always a
new “latest and greatest” quick fix grabbing our attention by making extraordinary claims. How do you know what’s important when everyone is claiming to have just the right answer? What’s really going to improve your health and help you reach your goals? What works for your significant other or your BFF, isn't necessarily your best solution to getting the results you want. For our March Consistency Challenge at Poindexter Coaching, we worked on improving our nutrition. We tackled this feat by focusing on just one important nutrition component each week. With this approach, improving your nutrition can be manageable instead of overwhelming. We explored five essential nutrition components that can reduce inflammation, increase energy, improve digestion and revamp body composition.
What are the top 5 nutrition components to start with to improve your nutrition?
#1 Eliminate junk foods. Dumping added sugars (especially fructose), sweet treats, high calorie beverages and highly processed foods is the first step to eating healthy. These foods cause inflammation throughout the body. Constant blood sugar spikes from bad foods can wreak all kinds of havoc on us. Chronic inflammation can lead to disease and lots of joint pain. Junk foods have no nutritional value and increase your risk for diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Eliminating the junk from your DIEt, will help you move more, feel better, and live longer too. (1)
#2 Drink the right amount of water. Drinking enough water improves cellular processes in the body and is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. Water can prevent headaches and constipation. It can reduce fatigue and give you energy! As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes and we can become dehydrated without realizing it. Water is crucial for our bodies to stay hydrated and manage thermoregulation. Each individual is unique with varying sweat rates, physical activity, and age, but in general our bodies need at least 64 ounces of water for proper cellular regulation. If you’re not getting in that much yet, start by adding a few ounces daily to get up to that minimum level. If you’re physically active, tend to sweat a lot, or are trying to lose weight, you need to drink more than the minimum. In general, you can divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water daily to maximize benefits and then adjust from there for your individual needs. A couple other tips to help increase your water intake are to set a timer every 20 - 30 minutes to remind you to take a drink, start your morning by drinking a glass of water, and find a favorite water bottle you can’t be without (and constantly be refilling it). If you drink from a straw, you tend to drink more. Water improves our performance and our brain function. Plus, it’s our best flushing agent for fat loss! (2)
#3 Eat enough protein. PROTEIN, PROTEIN, PROTEIN, it’s the super macronutrient! Protein is essential to good health. It plays a key role in digestion, energy production, blood clotting, and muscle contractions. Protein acts in growth and repair, biochemical reactions, hormone messaging, tissue structures, and it supports the immune system. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are utilized in the rebuilding of our muscles after hard strength workouts and long endurance efforts. Just like with water, increasing your protein intake slowly over time will allow your body to assimilate to the extra availability. The current recommendation (RDI) of 46g of protein a day for women is too low. Active women, especially those on the wiser side of 45, should work up to eating closer to 100g of protein daily. The bare minimum amount of protein your body needs for proper functioning can be determined by your weight (0.8g/kg body weight). As we age and fight against sarcopenia (age related muscle loss), we need to consume more protein. If you’re an athlete or strength train regularly, you’ll need to consume more protein for muscle growth and repair. Protein keeps you feeling full longer and can help with weight loss and body composition goals. It’s best to distribute your intake throughout the day and time it around your workouts to maximize benefits. Target about 30g of protein in each meal. Be sure to consume high quality protein from a variety of sources. (3, 4, 7, 8)
#4 Add more natural fiber. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that offers many health benefits. It protects against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. The daily recommendation for women is 25g. Foods with dietary fiber are fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These foods also contain other amazing nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that also benefit our health. These awesome nutrients are stripped away during processing in fiber supplements. Remember, fresh is always best! Other benefits of eating fiber include weight loss/maintenance, improved digestion by increasing beneficial gut bacteria, and regular bowel movements. Fiber is like a net pulling the waste through your digestive-tract as the body absorbs nutrients. The amount of fiber varies in different plant foods. Eat a variety of fresh high fiber foods to get enough and to maximize nutrition. Raspberries have the highest amount of fiber per serving of all the fruits. You can actually see the fibers on the berry! (5)
#5 Plan/prepare your meals and cook at home. Not eating out is one of the best practices you can adopt to improve your nutrition. When you plan ahead and cook at home, you are in control of the ingredients you consume. You’ll make healthier meals at home with less salt, sugar, and fat than eating out. Being in control of your food is being in control of your health and fitness. It requires thinking ahead and consistently taking action to develop healthy habits. As we travel on our health and fitness journeys, we are in training to live the highest quality of life possible for as long as possible. Cooking at home is the best way to nourish your body and keep it moving with ease for years to come. “For meal prep the simplest way to learn fast is use only one protein and a handful of the same veggies to make several different dishes”, personal chef Amy Civica (6). You can also mix up your spices to create different flavor profiles in your meals. E.g. asian, middle eastern, tex mex, etc. Another essential component to mastering meal prep, according to Amy, is having the right tools to be efficient. Make sure you’re using a sharp, well-balanced knife. Find prep bowls that bring you joy! And practice, practice, practice.
Watch this great video of Amy Civica giving us tips for cutting onions!
These five key elements were explored in our March Consistency Challenge. Participants took the opportunity to focus each week on one of these aspects to improve their eating habits. I encourage you to take a look at these components in your eating habits and make adjustments to optimize your nutrition. You know what they say, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet”. Improve your performance and increase your longevity with better nutrition today!
“Next Level” by Dr. Stacy Sims