Improving a weekly diet

We all eat very differently.  We get different ideas from how we are brought up and how we are educated about what we should and shouldn’t eat.  What and how much one person chooses to eat can vary so much from what and how much another person chooses to eat.

What you eat can be the difference between losing weight / toning up and getting the body you want or not.  Eating a good varied balanced diet along with regular exercise and a lot of hard work might just get you the body you want.

A friend of mine asked me what I thought she could do to improve her diet and get toned up.  She trains hard, working out 4-5 times a week and she does cardio and weights at the gym and works out hard.  But she’s got a few things with her body that she’s not happy with.

Improving Your DietThe key to weight loss / toning is to eat healthily and exercise regularly.  If you exercise a lot and THINK you eat healthily, but you still aren’t losing weight or changing shape, it could be to do with your diet or the type of exercise you are doing.

Exercise needs to be at a moderate to high level for the majority of the time you do it (ie maybe 60-80% of your activity should be moderate to high intensity).  

If you think your diet is good – write it down like my friend did and really think about whether it is as healthy as you think it could be.  What can you replace with healthier foods?  Is there something you eat daily or weekly which you could replace with something which is healthier (ie fruit or veg to replace chocolate or crisps / wholegrain foods to replace refined white foods)?

The key to a good diet is to vary it and try to eat as little refined or processed food as possible.  It’s easy to get a weeks’ worth of microwave meals when you go shopping, but to improve your diet you could try and replace the microwave meals with home cooking.  If there isn’t enough time in the day, try to make time and find quick healthy recipes you can put together (ie chicken stir fry, chicken katsu, Chilli, baked potato and tuna).

Here is a sample of my friend’s weekly nutrition:

Weekdays:
Morning
Cereal, apple, banana, bagel and nutella.

Afternoon
Bowl of soup + white crusty roll 

Evening
A fridge meal + a wee sweetie/ (Friday evening – Chinese)

(Drinks: water / milk with meals)
(Doesn’t drink alcohol)

Saturday:
Cereal
Pub lunch, diet irn bru

Sunday:
Cereal
Left over Chinese takeaway or dinner.
(Sometimes not much on a Sunday).

The first thing that struck me is that she doesn’t seem to eat a lot.  She can’t afford to ‘cut anything out’ as she trains so much, so it is maybe the ‘what’ she eats that she needs to look at instead of how much. 

There also doesn’t appear to be much protein in her diet, and what carbs there are seem to be refined, or have a high glycaemic index (ie white bread, white rice, sweets, potatoes). 

Also, the odd treat is ok, but a chinese takeaway once a week could easily be replaced by a healthier home cooked alternative with better meat and sauce.   Sweets can still be eaten, but perhaps less regularly or in smaller portions.

Nutrition Improvement Suggestions

I am by no means an expert in nutrition, but I know whats good and whats bad in nutrition terms.  I eat good and bad stuff and try to have a varied diet but often have the same things over and over again each day/week.  I try to limit the bad stuff and replace it with good fruit/nuts/veg where possible.  And I drink lots of water and milk and avoid fizzy drinks and alcohol.

Here’s what I suggest for her:

  • Try and eat every 2-3 hours.
    (Don’t go without food like on Sundays)
  • Less processed/refined foods.
  • More wholemeal / whole grain foods.
  • Less ‘sweeties’ (once-twice a week maybe instead of every day)
  • More fruit & veg (2-3 portions of each a day) & nuts
  • More protein.
  • Don’t eat ‘fat free’ or ‘low fat’ meals/foods, eat higher protein meals instead.
  • Drink water, milk and the occasional diet irn bru.
  • At least one dairy portion a day (milk / cheese / eggs / greek yoghurt)
  • Home cooked chicken curry instead of take out!
    (or get chicken noodle soup maybe from Chinese).
  • More / only home cooking instead of microwave / processed meals.
  • Make sure she is well fuelled before and after exercise.

Example Daily Nutrition

Here’s an example of a daily diet routine:

8:00:  Breakfast
Cereal – wholemeal or porridge or
Boiled egg(s) and wholemeal toast or
Wholemeal toast and fruit (crushed up banana or avocado)
10:30: Snack
Bagel and filling (nutella / peanut butter / cottage cheese).
12:30: Lunch
Soup & wholemeal roll/sandwich or
Chicken mayo and walnut wrap or
Tuna mayo sweetcorn wrap
14:30: Snack
Fruit
16:30: Snack
Fruit or nuts or cheese
19:00: Dinner
Home cooked meal, including 2-4 veg:
Chicken Katsu
Chicken Curry (homemade instead of Chinese)
Baked Potato & tuna/ beans / chicken
Mince & tatties & veg
Chilli and rice
Chicken Stir Fry
Poached / scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.
Soup

I know that her main issue with eating wholegrain foods is that she ‘doesn’t like them’ and likes white bread and coco pops more than she likes wholegrain bread or bran flakes or porridge… so she needs to decide if eating more healthily is what she wants to do, or if she wants to stick to the foods she ‘likes’ eating. 🙂

More protein could be consumed in the form or milk or protein whey shakes if she wanted. 

Snacks

Finally, with the idea of trying to eat every 2-3 hours, here are some good ideas for heatlhy snacks:

Apples
Bananas
Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
Grapes
Cashew nuts (natural, not salted or dry roasted)
Bagel (and nutella / peanut butter / cottage cheese)
Greek yoghurt
Cheese cubes and pepperoni
Kiwi Fruit
Pineapple chunks
Avocado
Pear
Muller Rice (plain)
Carrot sticks
Tomatoes
Melon
Mango
Smoothie

For more information see here:

How should an athlete plan his/her daily nutrition?
The world’s healthiest foods
Cereals and Wholegrain foods
A balanced diet (NHS)
My snacks and daily intake

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1 Response to Improving a weekly diet

  1. Pingback: Take Care of Yourself: Eat Well: Part 2 | Lorn Pearson Trains…

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