A Recipe For Consistency!
Over the past 12 months we have engaged with clients and numerous individuals in our local area including north Manchester, Middleton, and Oldham.
Our aim was to gage the level of confidence people currently have when it comes to taking care of their health, fitness, and nutrition.
To accomplish this, we conducted an ‘Ownership survey’ which asked participants to rate their confidence in various aspects of their health and fitness as well as identify challenges they may be facing.
In this article, we will explore the results we obtained specifically from the nutritional section of the survey.
Participants were asked to rate their confidence on a scale of 1-10 when it comes to managing their diet to suit their needs.
Additionally, we gathered qualitative data by asking about the struggles and difficulties they experience in these areas.
As you can see, these were some of the responses outlined by our ownership survey participants.
From these data sets, we can take that more than half (57%) of participants felt confident in managing their nutrition. Thus, 43% feel like they lack confidence and need support in this area.
As mentioned above, we collected written responses in the ownership survey, focussing on the most common struggles and barriers encountered when it comes to diet.
The most common barriers cited were:
1. Lower levels of protein and how to get more in the diet.
2. Sticking to a diet.
3. Lack of time to Prepare/Cook.
Below we will delve into these areas and barriers a little deeper and try to explore potential solutions and support structures.
1. Protein within the diet
When it comes to training, physical activity or a new hobby which requires physical exertion – it is easy to think of these as stimuli – our bodies try and adapt to the given stimuli to improve our efficiency when carrying out said efforts.
It is very common for people to overlook the nutritional side of physical activity and more so the part that protein and amino acids play, they act as the building blocks of muscle protein syntheses (MPS) and enable lean mass to develop within the body.
Our bodies will make subtle adaptations to deal with the new strains and requirements we are placing upon it. The efficiency of our bodies to do this is greatly improved when we augment our protein, subsequently our amino acid intake (1).
According to leading scientific literature – we need on average 1.5-2.5g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight to trigger the MPS pathway (2). So, for a 70kg male, intake of around 120-150g protein per day should suffice.
So how to increase protein intake to encourage the physical changes we want?
a) Have knowledge of your required protein intake
You may have an amount you need to consume but how do you plan to execute the consumption? How do you intend to track the intake? We strongly advise to have autonomy over your diet and a way to manage that intake – nutritional tracking apps are present within the health and fitness industry and act to help consumption tracking.
b) Aim for high protein/low calorie foods
Protein rich foods are usually animal-based, however you can obtain adequate protein intake via a plant-based diet – it’s just much more difficult and their bioavailability (how good we are at absorbing the protein) is quite low (3).
Foods like Beef, Chicken, Fish, Turkey, Eggs, Greek Yoghurt, Milk, Lentils etc, are found to have elevated levels of protein compared to other food groups such as carbohydrates and fats. The greatest pay-off would be to find protein rich foods which also have a medium to low caloric content.
c) Protein Powder
For us this is a no-brainer, protein powders make hitting that magical protein target relatively simple whilst also helping reach your hydration needs too. For example, one shake in the morning and one in/around training or an evening meal, could add up to 80g of additional protein per day. Liquid calories are also more satiating and make you feel fuller for longer. Given the average advised protein target is around 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight for an average, active person – the above targets are for the optimal MPS levels (4).
2. Sticking to a diet
For decades, there seems to have been a new diet each year that claims to solve your own personal fitness problems and weight loss issues. Almost as if they were a ‘magical pill’ when followed, would allow you to have a great lifestyle. This is a fallacy and diets actually show little to no positive impact on body composition over time (5). Studies have also found that 95% of people who lose weight from a diet – end up gaining the same or even more weight than before you started (6). Here are some helpful guide points to help you manage your ‘diet’.
a) Have a plan!
This is a common situation when it comes to following diets or eating patterns, many people tend to just stop with their diet once they are where they want to be or achieved their weight loss goal. However, given that most people struggle once they stop, this is a real opportunity to have a plan in action for when you are due to stop.
Whether this is only focussing on eating until you are full or choosing to track even though you don’t have a target, there are many ways to create a new plan to manage the diet. Studies have also shown that when allowing more freedom with a diet (allowing yourself to eat what you want from time to time to prevent exclusion mentality) adherence to the diet increased (7).
b) Give yourself flexibility!
Let’s say you have a weekend BBQ planned for the week ahead, how do you manage your diet and calories to allow yourself some freedom at the weekend? Well, we advise stockpiling or preparing your calories and diet throughout the week to maximise your freedom for the BBQ, thus avoiding restriction and the potential for deviating away from your diet. Simply put, you save 200kcals per day Mon-Fri and this allows for a spare 1000kcals to indulge with at the BBQ.
c) Exercise maintenance
A certain factor which is often overlooked when it comes to dieting is exercise itself. Studies related to dietary adherence found that people who kept exercising whilst on a diet and maintained exercise even when the diet ceased, managed to keep the weight off (8).
3. Making time to prepare/cook
Like many things in life worth attaining or achieving – they come with an agreement you make to yourself that you will work diligently to strive towards this endeavour to the best of your ability. Diet is no different, whether you believe you have time or not, there are ways to increase adherence and promote better lifestyle choices.
a) Preparation time
Starting the week ahead, usually starts with the weekend before. When dieting and trying to eat in a certain style, it can be helpful to set aside time for you to consider shopping, cooking and preparing of your meals – prep or no prep. Have a general idea of the types of meals and recipes you enjoy, then go and buy ingredients for those. Preparing 4-5 meals at the weekend can help propel you into a good start for the week ahead and make tedious meal choosing a thing of the past.
b) Meal boxes and batch cooking
As mentioned above, not only is it about making adequate time to dedicate towards preparing and cooking of food, but also what and how you set your meals up for the days ahead. Meal boxes can be a good method of generating recipe ideas and for a small fee, companies with send you a box of meals for you to prepare yourself, clients in the past have found this helpful but ultimately, is not a long-term play.
Batch cooking refers to language in the above paragraphs, whereby you will pre-cook several meals within a portion-controlled container. Again, setting aside time to do this can help overall adherence and make a challenging aspect of health and fitness achievable.
For those of you who are confident when it comes to managing your diet and nutrition, well done, we applaud you. Keep up the fantastic work!
Conversely, lacking confidence in these areas is common and we hope our suggestions and guiding points have made things slightly less intimidating and more achievable.
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The RikFit Team
RikFit Dynamic Coaching