I’m sure that you’ve all seen the food triangle (sometimes called the food pyramid?)
Well, if you haven’t, the food triangle shows foods in several divisions of the triangle which indicates how much of each you should eat.
The bottom section of the triangle is carbs: Such as cereal, veg, rice, and pasta etc. It’s recommended that you eat 6-11 servings of those.
The next section up is fruit and veg: Suggesting that you eat around 5 servings a day (would you believe).
Higher up from that is meat, poultry, beans, eggs and dairy: You’re supposed to have 2-3 servings of these per day.
The smallest part of the triangle, right at the top, is fats, oils, and sweets: Recommending you should use these sparingly.
The logic of this food triangle is good. Which got us thinking and researching for a simpler and more fitness friendly food triangle which can be adapted and used by you, irrespective of your goals.
Behold.. The Pyramid of Nutrition Priorities…
OK, it’s not actually that exciting but it is beneficial, that is for sure.
Shall we work from the bottom up?
If you’re only going to remember a couple of things from this entire article, remember these simple facts.
- If you burn off more calories than you eat, you will lose weight.
- If you burn off fewer calories than you eat, you will gain weight.
Calories are an energy which is often gained from food. The energy is essential for your body to keep your body alive and organs function.
Basically, eating puts energy into your body which you use up throughout the day – everything from breathing to intense exercise.
Macros or Macronutrients are what makes up the calories in the food which you eat. They’re three categories: Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins.
Carbohydrates are everybody’s love/hate relationship. Every food you enjoy is usually full of carbs. Carbs are what keeps us going and is often found in foods such as bread and rice.
Fats are beneficial for hitting your body composition goals, they’re great for energy and you’ll need to eat fats to burn fats (but not too much)
Protein is essential for the growth of muscle tissue as well as repairing torn muscle tissue – something which you commonly do when working out.
Micronutrients are commonly known as vitamins and minerals and include such minerals as fluoride, sodium, iodine and zinc and vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and K.
Stack your plate with around 50% green veg, such as spinach or broccoli, it’s one of the key ways that you can make sure that you get vitamins and minerals into your body.
Superfoods are stacked full of health benefits and we’ve already spoken about the superfoods you need in your diet.
Meal timing is key. Despite this, you’ll hear nothing but a difference in opinions on when you should eat.
Breakfast: As soon as you wake? Before a morning workout? After a morning workout?
Should you eat every 3 hours? Every 4 hours? Or have 3 meals a day, equally spread out?
In answer to the last question, we’d say not! You should really be eating every 3-4 hours to make sure that you don’t get hungry and to spread your calories out over the whole day.
Think: If your recommended daily intake is 2500 calories, and you consume this within only over 3 meals, that’s around 840 calories per meal. That will mean every time you finish a meal, you’ll feel totally bloated.
As a general rule of thumb, try and keep each of your three meals to around 500 calories and if you’re eating 2500 calories a day, spread the remaining 1000 over snacks or between meals and pre/post workout.
Supplements, despite being an important element of a fitness journey, shouldn’t be relied on. Theoretically, you should be able to make the same progress with a perfect diet and hard training. Supplements should only be used to supplement what you will get from food, often out of convenience.
Be sure to check out our guide to supplementation.
What does this mean for me?
Fundamentally, the most important thing for you to get right in your whole lifestyle is your nutrition. How far you decide to break that down is entirely up to you but your results will vary depending on how committed you are and how accurate your nutrition priorities are. If you’re new to fitness or changing a diet is a whole lifestyle change for you, start by taking small steps in the right direction, rather than going “big bang”.
Firstly, make sure you’re eating the right number of calories and track the calories you’re consuming. You’ll probably find, especially if you’ve never done so before, that you’re either over eating a lot or under eating by a lot. You need to adjust your calories and allow your body to get used to this before your body gets used to this.
Once you’re comfortable with the calories that you’re eating, then start to look at your macros, micronutrients, and your meal timings. This will probably be easier for you than adjusting calories – that is, of course, unless you currently go carb crazy!
Finally, break yourself into using supplements slowly but assertively. Ask yourself what you’re short of in your diet, especially if you’re off target.
For example, are you not getting a meal in fast enough after the gym? If so, try some whey protein tailored for your goals. Ideally, you need to get protein in your body around 20 minutes after you’ve worked out.
An essential for the gym bag!