For me, it is easy to show up at the gym and train hard. My battles surface in the kitchen, or worse, the pantry. I love learning how to cook new dishes and strive to cook with high-quality ingredients. That being said, I also have a major sweet tooth and, my sweet tooth struggles with the concept of moderation.
Nutrition is part of the performance training continuum and it is a BIG part of it.
While I don't expect you to become an expert in food science, making some simple changes can positively alter your performance trajectory.
1) Track your hydration.
I am not a huge fan of tracking every little bit of what I consume. It is too maddening for me. However, hydration is something that I see many athletes struggling to manage. Lack of hydration is insanely effective at hindering performance. If you're like me and do not have the desire to track every detail of your nutrition, I still challenge you to track hydration.
I have yet to work with an athlete who has been hitting adequate hydration regularly. In the Performance & Prevention Training Community, our hydration nutritional change goal starts with a simple task.
Start by drinking three cups of water right when you wake up. See if you can do this for a week. Build from there and aim for 11 cups of water a day if you're a woman and 16 cups of water a day if you are a man. See if you can do this for a week straight. Further, develop this habit by calculating your needed hydration with the following equation.
Ounces=[Bodyweight(lbs) x .5] +10
Keep in mind that you might need to add more hydration based on your environment, activity levels, and other factors.
2) Double down on vegetables.
Simply put, vegetables rock and I see a trend with athletes not eating enough vegetables. Packed with necessary nutrients for performance, vegetables have major upside in the performance continuum. Be diverse with your vegetable selection and mix in a multitude of colors.
I recommend aiming for five servings a day. See if you can get to a point to where this is happening 6/7 days a week.
3) Run away from added sugar like it is the plague.
Added sugar comes with a bunch of nicknames. The most well-known one is corn syrup or added fructose. Added sugar in small doses isn't much to worry about, but our food chain has been littered with large dosages of of processed variations disgused under many names. A simple way to avoid this is to stay away from processed foods. This will solve your management of fructose almost instantly.
Naturally occurring fructose is a helpful tool for your body but adding in a bunch of artificial sweeteners can completely wreck your weight management goals. Too high of fructose in your diet can lead to weight gain around your waistline, a poor cholesterol profile, high triglycerides, and poor appetite control.
I would love to see you aim for no more than 10 grams of added sugar a day. If you're averaging upwards of 50g a day, you could be set up for some negative health consequences. Keep in mind, one 32 fl oz soda already hits the 50g mark.