– Eat frequently throughout the day (5-8 times a day depending on workouts)
o Eating small meals/snacks often keeps your blood sugar stabilized, your energy up and keeps you from being a hungry at the next meal/snack which helps control portion sizes.
o Try to eat every 2-4 hours.
– Manage your portion sizes
o A good rule is to eat until you are ”not hungry” or “satisfied”, not until you are full or stuffed.
o Make your plate 1/3 lean protein, 1/3 complex carbohydrate and 1/3 vegetables.
– Watch out for high calorie restaurant food & large portion sizes
o It is not that restaurant food is “bad”, but portions are typically very large.
o Many restaurant foods contain hidden calories in sauces, oils, and cooking methods.
o Try to eat grilled, steamed, seared, etc. with sauces, salad dressings & spreads on the side.
– Add in vegetables & fruit
o Vegetables & fruit contain lots of fiber and water which help you feel full faster for less calories.
o Try to include non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner and possibly add raw vegetables to your snack; be careful not to add high fat dips, butter or sauces.
o Include fruit into snacks and possibly as a dessert instead of another sweet/baked good.
– Try not to eat right before bed
o Eat dinner at least two hours before going to sleep and if dinner is early, then add a small snack later in the evening (at least one hour before going to bed).
o Don’t stop eating at a certain time every day; the goal is to fuel your body the whole time you are awake; that doesn’t mean eating continuously until you go to sleep, but adding a nutrient rich snack of a whole grain carbohydrate and lean protein can help your body recover from a hard day of exercise.
– You might need an individualized nutrition plan to maximize energy and performance levels
o Weight loss is an equation of “calories in” versus “calories out” plus factoring in metabolism which is different for everyone; unfortunately there is no one “right” answer.
o These tips are a good base for healthy weight loss, but to figure out your weight loss strategy, you may simply need an individual plan, designed by a sports dietitian, based on your calorie needs, activity levels, and busy schedule.
– Avoid high calorie drinks
o Drinks such as soda, tea sweetened with sugar, fruit juice, sports drinks, & flavored/creamy coffee drinks can contain lots of extra calories, typically from sugar and added fat.
o Choose low-calorie drinks like water, flavored waters, un-sweet tea & low-fat milk to stay hydrated.
– Drink plenty of fluids
o Make sure to get your water in, water is a great choice for hydration throughout the day.
o When trying to lose weight, use sports drinks for pre/during/post-exercise hydration and focus on lowcalorie beverages for the rest of the day.
o Remember that all non-alcoholic beverages, soups, fruits, vegetables, JELL-Os, etc contribute to overall hydration.
o A good rule of thumb is to monitor your hydration level by the color of your urine; aim for pale yellow to clear for optimal hydration.
– Chose 100% whole wheat/whole grain carbohydrates.
o Examples: wheat bread/tortillas/English muffins/bagels, flaky cereals, oatmeal, oat/bran-based granola bars, whole wheat/whole grain crackers, multi-grain rice cakes, wheat or multi-grain pasta, brown or wild rice, sweet potatoes.
– Limit heavily refined, processed carbohydrates
o Examples: sugary cereal, sweet/iced granola bars/breakfast bars, white crackers, sweet crackers like animal crackers/100 calorie pack cookies, cookies, packaged baked goods, etc.
– Aim to eat carbohydrates in combination with lean protein/healthy fat to stabilize blood sugar
o Carbohydrates are your body’s #1 source of energy and thus digest very quickly; high fiber carbohydrates and protein/healthy fat slow down digestion & keep you full longer.
o Carbohydrates right before a workout give you energy, but when eaten alone during the day they can spike blood sugar and cause you to feel “hypoglycemic” leaving you tired, hungry, and maybe lightheaded or dizzy.
– Try to get the majority of your carbohydrate calories during the morning & day versus loading them at night
o Fuel by day; diet by night! Make sure you get adequate carbohydrate calories throughout the day so that you can focus, be alert, and have enough energy to perform optimally.
o Each meal should consist of an adequate serving of carbohydrates…your fist is a good measure of a “carbohydrate serving” at a meal or snack (1 small fist = approximately 1 cup).
o Skipping out on carbohydrates can often make you “crave” them at night so make sure to “fuel” in small meals all day.
– Choose lean, low-fat proteins
o Skinless chicken, turkey, tuna/fish, very lean red meat, 96/4 ground meat or ground turkey, 2% cheese, low-fat or skim milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs and egg whites.
o Peanut butter and nuts/seeds provide some protein, but are classified as a fat.
– Add protein at every meal
o Protein slows down digestion to get you full faster and keep you full longer.
o Dietary protein helps you maintain lean muscle mass while losing weight/body fat.
– Meat-substitute proteins
o Tofu, low-fat dairy products, soy milk or soy products, edamame beans, Morningstar meat-substitutes, energy bars with protein, whey or soy protein which can be mixed in smoothies, oatmeal, pudding, mixed with milk or water, etc.
– Choose healthy fats or “good” fats as much as possible.
o Examples: peanut butter, almond butter, nuts/seeds, avocado, olive oil, flaxseed, salmon, trout & tuna.
– Limit saturated fats or “bad” fats
o Examples: battered/fried food, creamy sauces/spreads, baked goods, pastries, butters/salad dressings.
– Fat is calorie-dense so you don’t need as many high-fat foods throughout the day.
o Fat yields 9 calories per gram whereas carbohydrate & protein yield 4 calories per gram.
o Use fat as a “garnish” to a nutrient rich carbohydrate-protein meal.
– Try to spread fat intake out over the course of the day.
o Fat digests very slowly so incorporate a small amount at each meal instead of a large quantity at once.
o Example: 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter on toast at breakfast instead of a sausage/bacon/cheese biscuit.