Being a coach isn’t just about teaching people to Olympic lift, or pointing out movement errors or shouting out times. It’s about having a broad and well-rounded knowledge of all things health and fitness and being able to answer most questions with an informed and honest opinion. (It’s also about knowing when to admit you don’t know the answer and then realising you have a gap in your coaching game!)
When it comes to the questions we get asked an awful lot of them are based around nutrition. Here I’ll give you my thoughts on some of the most common and frequently asked questions in the nutrition game:
Where do I start?
As I have hopefully demonstrated in this series of blog articles nutrition is a vast and complex subject. Knowing where to start is hard and is often over thought. My go to advice to people keen to get started on the path to slightly better nutrition is: drink more water, eat less sugar and start keeping a track of what you eat. Once you’ve adopted these changes we can worry about the more complex aspects of being a nutritional ninja!
What’s the best diet?
Everyone wants to follow the ‘best’ diet and every good coach wants to be able to recommend the best one to their members. However, a good coach keeps an open mind and realises the ‘best’ diet will vary depending on who is asking. The lifestyle, finances, goals and time available for any client will dictate what the ‘best’ diet is for them. Any coach who states ‘this fad diet is the best’ is either not very experienced or has a different agenda in mind. The best diet is the one that works for the individual. This could mean a meat-based diet for one member and a plant-based diet for another. There is no one size fits all best diet!!
How many calories should I eat?
Calories are the bane of everyone’s lives, fact. Never has so much power been given to such a poorly measured unit! The labels on food have a tolerance of 25%. This means that pizza you just ate that said it was 750 calories could be either 563 calories or 937 calories. Big fucking difference. Then we use the computer screens on exercise machines to determine how many calories we’ve burnt. Again these are incredibly inaccurate! Basically, without a sophisticated system of measuring and weighing your food and some serious monitoring of your energy expenditure it’s pretty pointless to count exact calories long term. The best way to know how much to eat? Learn how your body feels and what it needs and then listen to it!
Should I eat carbs?
Yes. Simple. If you plan on outputting any form of energy then you need some cards in your life. End of.
Should I eat grains?
Grains are praised by vegans as the best thing in the world and hated by paleo followers as the scourge of all nutrition. The truth is you don’t need to eat grains but unless you have direct grain intolerances they probably won’t do you much harm either. They are also a cheap and easy form of carbohydrates so make for a sustainable and repeatable diet.
What and when should I eat around my workouts?
This is super dependent on the person asking. The vast vast majority of people are fine eating a balanced meal of whole foods 1-2 hours before training. We could delve into the appropriate use of a 1 to 2 ratio protein and carb drink during training or the addition of some BCAA’s into your workout regime but unless you are an elite level athlete your general diet has far more impact on your training results than how you eat around your sessions.
What supplements should I take?
Another absolute minefield and one that is only worth discussing on an individual basis when the rest of your diet is on point! Ever heard the phrase ‘you can’t out train a bad diet?’ Well you can’t out supplement a shit diet either! Get your nutrition on point and then worry about supplementing it.
For those of you still keen to get some supplement info I only ever recommend three ‘sports’ supplements – a decent whey protein, a high-quality creatine and beta alanine. For a more in depth look at supplements check out our previous blog post: https://saxoncrossfit.com/supplements-what-the-fuck/
And those are our most frequently asked questions on nutrition.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this series and have learnt something that will help you keep your nutrition on point. If there is anything else you want to know, any questions, queries or anecdotes please just ask! See you by the whiteboard!