We need a new paradigm regarding the food we eat. We need to view food as nourishment to our body as opposed to solely caloric units. We need to consider what that food represents in terms of energy and nutrients. Just one food or one nutrient is not the answer to more energy, an optimal weight, better health and improved performance. The key to success lies in the collection of the habits that fuel our bodies, activities, minds, performance and,most importantly, our lives.
There are five areas of nutrition focus in the Fueling Series. You will find that the handout series and builder systems revolve around these five areas:
- Eat Clean
- Eat Often
- Eat Clean
Eating clean means trying to choose the least-processed types of foods most of the time. Typically, the closer the food is to its original form (from the earth or the animal), the better it is for you.
Simply put: Try to eat foods in the most natural form possible.
Nutrient density plays a large role in the mentality of eating clean. Nutrient density is the relationship of the amount of nutrients that a food has to the amount of calories. It is critical to try to choose nutrient dense foods as often as we can, to ensure we get the nutrients we need. Focus on trying to
choose the types of foods that have the highest amount of nutrients for the calories within the foods.
The Three Macronutrients:
- Carbohydrate = Fuel
- Protein = Build
- Fat = Energy Density
- Eat Often
The key to energy and sustainability (beyond the types of foods you choose) is how often you eat. By eating mini-meals every two to three hours, your body is given a steady flow of fuel. The goal here is to maintain blood glucose (fuel) in an optimal range. This will help maintain focus and keep your metabolism roaring all day long. We find that those who eat more frequently have better energy and prevent themselves from becoming overly hungry, which can help them make better choices.
It is vital to stay hydrated because the body is 60-65 percent water, which performs numerous vital functions, including:
- Providing life and shape to every cell;
- Delivery of fuel to muscles;
- Lubrication and cushioning of joints;
- Aiding in muscle contraction and tone;
- Aiding in metabolism and digestion;
- Brain function;
- Shock absorption for the spine and brain; and
- Regulating temperature.
Consequently, dehydration causes these functions to suffer, impairing your health, ability to recover from illness and athletic performance. As little as a 2 percent decrease in weight, due to fluid loss, can impair both your physical and mental performance.
Nutrition can help to speed the recovery process. After a workout, your body has emptied its fuel stores and the muscles have been broken down. To gain the most from your workout and perform at high levels, you need to repair your muscles and replace your fuel stores as quickly as possible.
Getting a combination of carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes of your training session will ensure that you are recovering as quickly and efficiently as possible, which will minimize the time needed between sessions and decrease the risk of injury.
Carbohydrates = Re-Fuel Protein = Re-Build
The final piece of optimizing nutrition is focusing on mindset and behavior. All of the education in the world does not matter if it doesn't lead to behavioral change. Providing simple lists of the "best" foods to choose, easy guides on portion size and presenting material in a concise and action-based way will help to give you the tools to immediately start making changes.
As a society, we have become enamored with diets. The word diet has many different definitions and is typically associated with managing the calories that you consume or eating in a prescribed or particular way. The word nutrition has a more positive connotation and is typically associated with nourishing the body. The goal of the Fueling Series is not to give you a diet plan. It is to help you focus on your habitual intake and the results of your nutrition habits.
The 80/20 rule promotes balance and the inclusion of all foods. We recommend that you try to consume foods you know will give you the nutrients and sustainable energy you need 80 percent of the time, and then consume whatever it is you want the other 20 percent of the time. Everything can fit into your daily "diet," your habitual intake. Just keep yourself in check.
The Meal Builder System
The meal builder is an easy way to understand both what and how much to eat at each meal. The essence of the system is for weight control, but we like to think of it more as a fueling strategy to get you to your goals. There are meal builders in the handout series that will assign both males and females to their particular calorie zone. The recommendations in the zones provide a better idea of the amount of food that should be eaten to achieve your goals.
How you eat and what you eat are essential to your daily performance. Having sustainable energy is a function of your commitment to making smart nutrition decisions and fueling your body optimally.
This content for the Navy Fitness and Fueling Series is designed to help Sailors achieve their goals by giving them the tools needed to make choices that will result in the energy they need to perform their jobs on a daily basis.
Eat Clean. Eat Often. Hydrate. Recover. Mindset.