Alisa Turner - Integrative Health Coaching

So, you want to tone up and look fit?  Better get your food in alignment with your fitness goals!

Finding the right fitness strategy for YOUR body and working with the right fitness professional is absolutely important.  But results may be minimized or may take a lot longer unless you change your diet accordingly.  Eating in a way that supports your fitness goals will maximize your results.  It’s not rocket science, and I can help you get there, but here are a few tips to start.

  1. Track your current nutritional landscape —  We need to know where you are before we know what to change.  This is what I help you figure out.   It’s not a long-term strategy but a short-term tool to take inventory of where you are, and the data must be accurate.  So, get ready to weigh and measure for a few weeks.  This serves several purposes
  • I can almost guarantee you will be astonished by the small serving sizes of processed/packaged foods and by their ineffectiveness at satisfying you for any significant length of time.
  • You’ll also become more keenly aware of your macros.  i.e., What does 4 oz of shredded chicken look like?  What is a serving size of cooked rice REALLY?  How much salad dressing am I using and what percentage of my calories does that account for? 
  • Sacrificing all the time is not required or even recommended because it would never be sustainable.  But no matter where you are in your health journey, it’s really all about choices.  Tracking helps you determine which foods are worth the extra calories and which ones aren’t so you can make better choices but still have a treat every now and then.
  • And it’s not just about the food.  My tracker has about 20 daily health related entries:  we’re going to look at when you ate, how long you were satisfied, any relevant Physiological/emotional symptoms, water, sleep, etc.  
  1. Evaluate what needs to change:   Once you’ve tracked your existing nutritional landscape for a week or so, some easy tweaks may become obvious.  Go slowly and build one change on top of the next so you don’t get overwhelmed.  If the changes are not obvious, or if you know what to change but can’t seem to make it happen, this is where I shine so reach out. 
  1. Focus on Whole/clean Food 
  • lean & clean protein, 
  • healthy fats
  • whole grains
  • plenty of fiber in the form of a rainbow of fruits and veggies).  Make 1/2 your plate veggies and I can help you sort out the rest because what ratio of protein:carbohydrate:fat you need to eat will be unique to you.
  • This focus helps “crowd out” the other stuff (see #4)
  1. Limit processed packaged foods (boxes, bags, cans) as much as possible and read labels on the ones you do buy.  
  • This is easier to do when you’ve flooded your body with nutrient and fiber-dense foods.  Many of the cravings for these foods will subside if you’re eating enough of the right kind of good stuff!
  • Processed foods are typically very calorie-dense but won’t fill you up so they should be reserved as an occasional treat and pre-portioned since their mouthfeel, artificial flavor enhancers, and added sugar/salt can make them very difficult to moderate.  
  • Read labels – When you do buy boxes or bags, read the labels to make sure you recognize what everything is.  If you can’t pronounce it, your body probably won’t recognize it.  Ignore marketing ploys like the word “natural” which has no legal definition. 
  1. Consume “adequate” protein for your goals. 
  • amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle and are also required to repair the related micro tears.
  • This is another place where tracking and coaching come in because everyone needs a different amount; the way I eat when I’m working on a strength goal is very different than when I’m focused on cardio/endurance.  And the thing that varies most is my protein.  It goes up significantly.  
  • Not all protein is created equal, so familiarize yourself with the biological value.  The higher the BV, the faster it can be absorbed and used to build muscle.  Eggs are the gold standard with a BV of 100, and yes you need the yolk.  I like to eat one whole egg a day and then add in some egg whites to keep the fat in a proper ratio for my body.  
  • After eggs, my go-to is lean chicken, fatty fish, and occasional beef.  Aim for grass fad, pasture-raised, wild caught. 
  • Plants like beans, nuts, seeds, and quinoa have protein too.  Whether or not you can use those as your primary source depends on what ratio of protein:fat:carb we decide is best for you.  Beans and grains have more carbohydrate than protein and nuts and seeds have more fat than protein so this can throw your macros out of balance.   Nevertheless, they are quality sources of nutrition and should be added in the amount that will optimize your body. 
  1. Liquid calories need to be entered in your food log, so watch the soda, alcohol, creamers, and even juice.  
  • Rather than juice which may have plenty of nutrients but lacks necessary fiber for balancing blood sugar and maintaining satiety, I usually opt for a smoothie.  
  • Drink plenty of water and in many cases, supplement with minerals.  Dehydration can cause cravings, muscle cramps, extended recovery, and all sorts of metabolic problems. 
  • Salt is not the enemy.  I actually add salt to my water.  It’s the type and quality of the salt that matters.  Salt in processed foods is not the same as sea salt which has many other trace minerals missing in the Standard American Diet.
  1. Optimize eating windows 
  • It makes me cringe to hear “experts” insist all athletes eat every 2-3 hours; there are too many different variables in any given nutritional landscape to make that kind of generalization; And while there is research to support this suggestion, it does not work for me.  
  • I choose not to have my insulin levels elevated all day every day because that doesn’t work for me.  Just about the only situation where I would eat that frequently is if I’m eating according to a 16:8 time restricted eating window. 
  • Again, everyone is different.   This is another piece of the puzzle that tracking will help us nail down. 
  1. Consistency rather than perfection is key — 
  • Don’t evaluate whether your new strategy is working for at least a month.  If your diet has been inconsistent for any length of time, it may take your body a while to adjust and feel safe enough to start changing.  
  • If you have a bad day, don’t quit.  It’s the weekly average of all the variables we are looking to improve that really matters.  And stressing out about eating the cookie is causing more damage than eating the actual cookie.  So be gentle on yourself.  This is a journey!