A Question Of Nutrition

We might be well known for our results driven training, but of course the other part of the equation is nutrition. Among Personal Trainers there’s a saying 70% nutrition, 30% training, and that’s partly true, if your diet is wrong, then you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for, or it will take you a lot longer.

We’re not big fans of fad diets and every year we’re asked be clients what we think about this diet or that diet, the short answer is, not a lot. Any diet can get you short term results, but often they have such tough parameters that slipping is inevitable. We’re more fans of informed healthy eating, our rule of thumb is from sea or field to plate with as few steps as possible.

So let’s look at what we consider to be a healthy diet. It’s important right at the start to note that everyone is different, and that everyone has different training goals: a 100kg man looking to add more muscle bulk for power sports is going to have completely different dietary needs to a 55kg woman looking to maintain a healthy lean physique, that’s why we offer Nutritional Consultations and genetic tests, because understanding the individuals needs and their goals is very important. Having said that there is some generic nutritional advice we can provide.

First up, a common question, should I skip breakfast? And it’s equally popular companion, what should I have for breakfast? Well, it depends. If you’re going to work out early in the morning and your goal is to maintain low body fat levels, or drop body fat, then working out fasted is going to provide benefits to help you hit those goals. You’ve fasted overnight so blood glucose levels are lower and insulin levels aren’t raised, meaning that if you train at intensity, you’re going to burn fat. So far, so good, but again it all depends on what you’re doing, or rather for how long. Up to 90 minutes at intensity and your good to go, longer than that and you risk going catabolic (using your muscle tissue for energy – not good), so HIIT circuits first thing fasted – great!

If you simply haven’t got the energy then the best thing to eat is a combo of healthy fats and protein, we’re talking avocado and fish here, a great way to start the day. Be aware that if you have carbs (even “good carbs” like oats) then you’ll spike your insulin and unless you burn those carbs off completely (unlikely unless you’re doing endurance) you won’t burn as much (if any) fat and any excess energy will lay down as fat. Oops. Just to add a level of complexity, we’ve only looked at the example here of you working out early morning, if you’re working out late in the day, then you need to eat, and you will need carbs, since they also provide the energy for effective brain function. You need to figure out what works for your lifestyle, and again, this is where getting personalised advice from an expert will really help you.

Whether you opt to work out fasted or go for the healthy fats and protein combo, what’s really important is refuelling immediately after the workout. Your body is crying out for fuel – what should you put in?

At 38ºN we are aiming to increase people’s ability to utilise fat as an energy source (fat oxidation). This can vary from person to person due to biochemical individuality but generally speaking raised insulin levels can interfere with fat oxidation, and we also take into account an individuals goals, so our guidance on both the quality and timing of carbohydrates as well as the ratio of protein to carbohydrates is key to our results. Our long-running and successful Optimal Fitness retreat now comes with an included Nutritional Workshop. Come see us to learn more and reap the benefits…

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