By Denis LaBreche
If you’re striving for something, whether it’s weight loss, competing in powerlifting, running a marathon, or whatever your goal is, it makes sense that you want to optimize your results.
Does this sound like you…?
- You find yourself focusing on minute details like nutrient timing and supplementation?
- You’re constantly biting on the latest “trendy” diet? Keto? Paleo? Carb nite? Beach Body?
- You’re regularly jumping coaches or programs to boost your training results?
You’re not alone!
But what does any of that matter if we can’t master the basics? Optimization is the second step. Mastering the foundations comes first.
If you came to me and said, “I want to be a powerlifter” and I immediately loaded your bar to 500lbs and told you to squat would you be very happy with me? I hope you’d want me to start you on an empty bar or even a dowel, and teach you the proper technique.
The same goes for our nutrition.
My advice? Keep it simple! And look at everything in small manageable stages. Master one thing, then move on to the next.
So let’s dive right into what the basics for nutrition really are!
Step 1: Create Good Habits!
Cook, eat at home, pack a lunch. Avoid foods that are void of nutritional value. Create a routine and stick to it.
Step 2: Make Solid Choices!
Trade the gummie bears for some grapes. Ditch the pop and drink some water. Eat vegetables! Stick to the outside of the grocery store. Don’t think of any food as “good” or “bad” but view things as more or less nutrient dense.
These two things alone and you’ll already feel much better! And perform much better in the gym.
Step 3: Track Your Food!
Would you drive a car without a fuel gauge and just hope for the best? Why treat your body any different! Know what you are consuming, know how much, know the nutritional breakdown of the food. This is the first step to weight control. And notice I didn’t say weight loss? Because whether the goal is loss, maintenance or gain the same basic principles apply.
Step 4: Hit Your Macros!
When it comes to weight loss or weight gain, your proportion of protein, carbs and fat is important. Especially when it comes to weight loss. Do some research. You’ll find a million different viewpoints on the subject. Talk to a coach. Hire a coach! I’ve never had a client tell me that it was a waste of time to have some nutritional guidance.
Step 5: Master the Micro-Nutrients and Micro-Details!
If you took step 2 seriously, then this should already be under control. But micronutrients bear a second step. This is essentially the makeup of your food. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, water. This is what I refer to whenever I say “nutrient density.” At the most basic level this is just food choices. But these are the necessary pieces to improve a person’s overall health. You can be very skinny but unhealthy, and you can be overweight and very healthy. It comes down to your food choices and nutrient density.
Those 5 are a good start. And really are what I consider the backbone of success. I didn’t even get into nutrient timing. Or supplements. I didn’t talk about different theories like the ketogenic diet or paleo. These are advances steps that you can dive into later.
As an athlete I appreciate the drive for perfect nutrition, but do you have these 5 simple steps dialled in yet?
Focus on the big picture rather than obsessing of minor details.
Without these 5 steps mastered nothing else will matter!
Denis LaBreche is a competitive powerlifter and strongman at the national level. He has extensive experience working with clients both in the gym and in the kitchen. He has worked with clients in every stage of their journey, from the one who has never been in a gym, to high level strength athletes. He operates out of Mettle Performance in Regina and also is co-owner of Saskatchewan Strongman, a non-profit developed to run world class strengths shows and help support local athletes competing at the national and international level.
Photo Credit: Mava Brydges Photography and Emma Love Photography