Where should I start with my nutrition?
The W10 Performance Food Stages are designed to help you decide where you are now and determine what your starting point should be. It then shows you how you can build upon this as you progress, showing you how to tweak things as and when you need to. We combine this with our Nutrition Made Simple Traffic Light system, which provides guidelines on which foods to eat.
The foods in stage one provide a solid foundation of nutrition, with the focus on eating whole foods – foods primarily from our green list. These ‘green’ foods contain lots of nutrients, and provide a balance of carbs, proteins and fats. A diet routed in these foods cuts out processed food and eliminates the sources of common food intolerances, such as gluten and grains, for example.
In the right quantities, these foods will give you most of the nutrients that you need. A useful tool at this stage is to keep a food diary, but don’t worry about calorie counting or weighing anything for now. By keeping track of all meals and snacks you’ll get to see how your body reacts to certain foods, which will help you make more conscious food choices going forward.If you are unsure and need some help with practical steps, you can check with our Food Maze graphic which will show you how to put move through; simply follow the arrows. Once you have decoded the food maze, answering yes to all of the questions, you’ll have a pretty solid foundation in place, which you can then build upon in Stage 2.
Why W10 Performance Food Stages? Can’t you just write me a diet plan?
We often get asked this, and although we have provided sample menus based on specific calorie requirements, we feel that it is important that people build their nutrition around their own lifestyle and requirements, rather than simply following what somebody else might do.
We all have different requirements, likes, dislikes and overall lifestyles, which is why we suggest nutrition is approached in stages. Our stages have been designed to help you decide where you are currently at and how you can build upon this as you progress.
We suggest that you combine these with our Nutrition Made Simple traffic light system, which provides guidelines on which foods to eat.
What about calories? I should be counting them, right?
We tend to not count calories initially, focusing instead on where the calories are actually coming from. Initially you’ll probably find it easier to forget about calorie counting. Focus your efforts on getting nutrient dense foods into your system and cutting out processed, calorie dense and nutritionally devoid foods, as shown in our Nutrition Made Simple, traffic light system.
Aim to get adequate protein, a variety of vegetables, some fruit and some good fats, such as those found in nuts, butter and coconut oil. Calories are important, they absolutely do count, but where they come from is as important as the total consumed – we want the right amount of the right foods!
You can get further into calorie counting and macronutrient frameworks as you move forward and you need to fine-tune your nutrition.
Why should I have breakfast?
You don’t need to have breakfast to be healthy or get into shape, but most people find that it helps. Those who eat breakfast (and workout in the morning) tend to make better choices throughout the rest of the day. If you skip breakfast and become ravenously hungry mid morning, you’re more likely to make less-conscious choices. This seems to be particularly true for people at the outset.
Breakfast is typically the biggest issue for many people. When you’re rushing to get to work or you’re trying to get the kids ready for school, fitting in a healthy breakfast can be a challenge. Others of us simply find that we do not feel hungry in the morning (typically those who eat too much too late!), but there’s often a solution in both cases.
If you can relate to either of these, try having dinner earlier and see how that makes you feel first thing. If you’re struggling for time and want something quick and simple, we have plenty of simple healthy breakfast recipes on the W10 Performance YouTube channel should you need some inspiration.
What about fats?
In contrast to the previous messages of caution, more recent research has provided an abundance of evidence to show that we all need adequate fat in our diets. And not just the so-called ‘good fats’, such as those found in fish, avocado and olives, but also saturated fats, found in grass fed animals and coconut oil amongst others, which has also been shown to be highly beneficial, rather than something to be feared.
Part of the reason that fat has previously demonized is because it contains more calories per gram than either protein or carbs. This is absolutely true, and although we might choose not to count calories, especially in the beginning, calories do count; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should exclude fat, we just need to include it in the right amounts, without over-doing it.
People’s requirements will be different, but as a general rule of thumb, there is an inverse relationship between carbs and fats. When carb intake goes down, we generally need to increase fat intake, which is why popular diets such as Atkins and The Dukan diet are so relatively high in fat, they are low in carbs. In the end, it is all about balance and you will need to decide the split of carbs, proteins and fats that works for you.
Should I cut carbs to lose weight?
Low carb diets have been the go to for many people in recent times, with the surge in popularity of approaches such as ‘Paleo’, Atkins, The Dukan diet and others, and it has left many of us completely confused about what, if and how many carbs we should, or should not, be including in our diet. Terms and phrases such as ‘good carbs’, ‘bad carbs, ‘complex carbs’, and my personal favorite ‘zero carb’, have left us all totally bemused and scared to eat an important food group, for fear that we might somehow balloon at the mere sight of an apple!
The truth is that we need carbs in our diet (we probably shouldn’t exclude any food group), we just need to make sure that we get them primarily from ‘natural’ sources, in the right quantities, for our requirements.
Natural carbs could be defined as foods ‘from the land’, which are found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains such as quinoa, rice, rye and oats. We choose to prioritize carbs from these sources, because they tend to come loaded with others nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre, without some of the unfavorable nutritional nasties that are found in more processed sources, such as breads, pasta, cakes, pastries and fruit flavored drinks.
What if I’m already nailing the basics?
Sticking to Stage One of our stages model and eating primarily green and some amber light foods will be enough to get most people to a place where they feel that their nutrition is working for them. We very often see significant changes and in people’s weight, energy levels, sleep quality and overall wellbeing, as a result of them simply doing the basics.
You may not want, or ever need, to explore anything further as you will likely gravitate to a healthy weight and shape, for you, but for those who want to delve into the specifics of things, such as calorie requirements, macronutrient frameworks, nutrient timing and pre and post workout nutrition for example, we can use the baseline set in Stage One to put together a personalized nutrition programme, tailored specifically to your requirements.
Do I need supplements?
We get asked about supplements a lot, which is hardly surprising, given that there are hundreds of them lining the walls of our local health food shops, all claiming to do magical things and promising all kind of impressive benefits.Most of our team use supplements regularly, but you do not need supplements to get into shape. The truth is that the benefits from most supplements are marginal, but there are some that we use regularly, such as Vitamin D, zinc, greens powers and probiotics, which we use sensibly and mostly to aid recovery from training, which will in turn accelerate our results.
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