Five Nutrition Tips & Kitchen Hacks for Your Spring Shape Up
With warmer weather on the horizon, many of us are crawling out from our warm and cozy homes and ready to shed some of the pounds accumulated over the Holiday Season in anticipation for the Summer months. Below we have some tips for you to make that process as simple and easy as possible.
#1: Focus on Your Nutrition Just As Much As Your Workouts
As CrossFit athletes we look forward to our workout of the day with great anticipation. Oftentimes we plan our workouts for the week, lay out our outfit the night before, and check the WOD so that we can plan our strategy. Just as much attention, in fact quite a bit more, should be focused on your nutrition! We challenge you to really reflect on how you are fueling your body and how you could make some adjustments to help you achieve your goal. Everyone’s nutrition approach will look different depending on where they are at on their fitness journey. For some of us, just putting some thought into what we are actually eating and recognizing that we are in fact having dessert every night is enough. For others who have been on their fitness journey for a while, it might entail getting the food scale back out and getting some nutrition help from your coach. Either way, we challenge you to put just as much thought and effort into your nutrition as you do your workouts.
#2: Weigh Your Food for At Least a Week
When it comes to dialing in your nutrition, we like to skip to the hard evidence and data. That’s where weighing and measuring all of the food you eat AND drink comes in. We recommend doing this for one whole week and logging it in either MyFitnessPal or MacrosFirst (two of our favorite food tracking apps). You just may be surprised how little protein you are getting versus fat. Maybe you are undereating, which is causing poor recovery and then poor performance in the gym. Weighing with a food scale is the most accurate way to discover what you are actually putting in your body.
#3: Analyze Your Data
Once you have taken a look at what an average week of eating looks like for you, you can make adjustments. We recommend taking that week’s worth of data and making adjustments accordingly (if you need help, we would love to help you, just click here). If you want to lose weight, we recommend that you first start by taking 10% of your typical calories away. So, if you logged an average of 2,500 calories last week, you would take 250 calories away for the upcoming week. This adjustment may seem like a lot but can be easily subtracted by having less creamer in your coffee, swapping mayo for mustard on your sandwich at lunch, and opting for chicken breast at dinner instead of chicken thighs. You may have noticed that we did not say to eat whatever MyFitnessPal is telling you and completely change your diet all at once. Starting where you are at with what you are already eating is the best way to make sustainable changes where you will actually see results.
If losing weight isn’t on your radar, and rather performing your absolute best in the gym is, we can take a look at your macro ratio. As CrossFit athletes, carbs are our friend so you may play around with adding in a pre-workout snack to make sure you are fueled.
If analyzing your data and making changes seems daunting to you, we would love to help!
#4: Plan Your Meals & Bulk Prep to Reduce Eating at Restaurants
If you are new to your nutrition journey, simply switching from eating your meals at a restaurant to cooking at home can have an incredible impact on both your waistline and your health. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that, “Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories from foods prepared away from home. Usually, these foods provide more calories, saturated fat, and sodium than meals prepared at home.” When meals are cooked at home we can control the quality of ingredients and the quantity in a much easier way than when we eat out.
We recommend sitting down each weekend and planning your menu for the week. Be as detailed as possible and include breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Try to include as many fruits and vegetables as you can and focus on lean protein sources like lean ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breast, shrimp, tuna, deli meat, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, and egg whites.
From there you can either prepare and pack all of your meals so you are ready to go, or do something we like to call bulk cooking. Bulk cooking involves preparing a few protein sources, carb sources, and chopping up your vegetables so that cooking is that much easier. For example, on Monday night you may be making teriyaki chicken breast with rice and roasted broccoli. So since you are in the kitchen anyway you make double the chicken and shred half of it to use for burritos the next night. You also make double the rice so that you can have it on hand for shrimp fried rice a few days later. The idea is that if you are already in the kitchen, cook double portions so that you are ready for the next day and don’t have to spend every night on your feet making dinner.
#5: Get Ample Rest and Reduce Stress
This tip is pretty simple and straightforward. If you are well rested you will have a better workout, recover more optimally, have more energy for extra movement throughout the day, and some energy leftover at night to cook dinner at home. As simple as those things are, if you can hit them everyday for weeks and weeks, and then years and years you will be more fit and in better health than 75% of Americans. If getting to bed on time is tough for you, try implementing a bedtime routine where you turn off the TV and all other screens an hour before bed time and do some yoga, reading, or light chores around the house. Try to think practically about how you can get to bed consistently on time and reduce your stress.
A wise man once said that, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” so as Spring approaches we challenge you to take a look at your habits and see what you can change in order to accomplish your health and fitness goals.