by Johanna Ihatsu
Many of us are balancing between work, school, training, family, friends, and life in general. My goal for this article is to give you tips on how to maintain a stress-free and healthy diet that supports overall well-being (and guarantees your gains at the box!). So, let’s forget all unscientific information about nutrition which Google is filled with, and see what research to-date has to say.
Point 1. Eat regularly & enough
According to research, regular and frequent meals produce greater satiety and minimise the need for unplanned snacking. Unplanned snacking may result in excessive energy intake and weight gain. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to eat regularly, i.e. every 2 to 4 hours.
In other words, the body loves predictable and regular behavior: Unpredictable eating makes your body confused and it ends up storing every piece of energy available. However, if you eat regularly, your body can relax as it knows that the next meal is on its way.
If eating for every 2 to 4 hours sounds way too frequent, you may suffer from lack of hunger caused by irregular eating, insufficient energy intake, stress, inactivity, excessive caffeine consumption, or smoking. Therefore, it may be time to start learning to eat regularly and with good quality.
Point 2. Remember breakfast
Unplanned snacking usually occurs during evening-time when there has been a lack of energy intake in the morning. In case you feel that you have probably been neglecting breakfast and find yourself snacking unnecessarily during the day, it’s time to adjust your start for the day! If you train early in the morning and breakfast is a no-go prior the training session, remember to eat breakfast straight after.
Point 3. Eat greens
A minimum of 500 grams of vegetables, berries, and fruits should be consumed daily. They provide you essential vitamins and minerals, which lower the risk for various chronic diseases. Also, for people who train intensively, greens speed up recovery from training by lowering the levels of oxidative stress. A simple way to guarantee your “daily 500 grams” is to add vegetables, berries, and fruits as a part of your planned snacks for afternoon and evening (“välipala” and “iltapala”).
Point 4. Drink water
Feeling thirsty? Drink tap water! Although for most individuals the daily hydration needs are met by letting thirst be their guide, the recommended ingested daily water intake should be between 1.5 to 2.5 liters.
In case of high-intensity training session, the amount of ingested water should be increased by 1 liter per training hour. The loss of salt and sodium caused by training is easily restored with adequate meals, and generally there is no need to add salt.
Point 5. Regulate caffeine intake
Did you know that caffeine is the most common dietary supplement used in sports thanks to its features in delaying fatigue and increasing performance (approximately by 3%)? However, it should be noted that caffeine may affect sleep quality when consumed close to sleeping time.
Point 6. Remember your focus
So how to eat stress-free? Focus on the overall picture rather than minor details. I recommend following the 80/20 rule: By 80%, choose basic healthy options for your daily meal plan, and as a result, 20% of the choices can be not so healthy. As in life in general, one should keep in mind the whole picture rather than focus on too small and insignificant points.
I hope this article has helped you to understand the fact that stress-free and healthy eating is not so complicated. Whether you are a goal-oriented athlete or someone who just seeks good feelings with crossfit and sports in general, the foundation for good nutrition is the same: regularly eating rich-nutrient foods allows indulgences every now and then.
Written by Johanna Ihatsu, gains at NECF since 04/2017. For more information, check www.sportaia.fi.
- Ilander et al. 2014. Liikuntaravitsemus – tehoa, tuloksia, ja terveyttä ruoasta. VK-Kustannus Oy.
- Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012. Integrating nutrition and physical activity. 5th
- Sousa et al. 2014. Dietary strategies to recover from exercise-induced muscle damage. Comprehensive review. Food Sciences and Nutrition.
- Suomalaiset ravitsemussuositukset 2014. Terveyttä ruoasta. Valtion ravitsemusneuvottelukunta.