Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 143, July 2021 July 2020 - Page 57

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Building Blocks of Health & Nutrition By Nick Robert

Most people are not aware of the general basics , or building blocks , to nutritional foundation . The obvious first question is what is nutritional foundation ? Secondly , how can we work with it , or around it , to understand nutrition and what is needed for our bodies to get sufficient food to perform in and recover from both general living as well as overall wellness , sports and exercise . The three major building blocks to any nutritional plan / foundation is the consumption of enough protein , fruit and vegetables , and managing stress .
There are three primary macronutrients that make up our daily caloric intake : Carbohydrates , protein and fat . Protein is known as the “ building block ” of the body , because it is vital in the maintenance of body tissue , including development and repair . If you are working out four to five times a week , a general rule of thumb is to eat your bodyweight , or target bodyweight , in grams of protein per day . This amount will fuel your body properly , keep hunger at bay , help repair your muscles , and control your blood sugar .
In my experience , most people do not eat enough protein for their activity level , and this is a primary foundation block I work on with many clients . We start by only focusing on hitting daily protein goals for an extended period of time before moving on to the other macronutrients . So , what does this look like ? Adding more protein to your day may look like eating more egg whites for your breakfast , lean meats ( chicken , ostrich , white fish ) for lunch and dinner , and having higher protein snacks like Greek yoghurt , lean biltong or whey protein after your workout . Proper protein consumption is the base for a good , balanced diet .
Fruit & Vegetable
From a young age , we are told that we need to eat our fruits and vegetables . This leads me to the second part of having a solid foundation . Vegetables and fruit provide a host of benefits , from micronutrients , proper fibre intake , hormone regulation , and anti-inflammatory properties . Our goal each day should be to consume around five cups of veggies and one to two cups of fruit .
Don ’ t like vegetables ? Find some that you do … there are hundreds of them ! Not everyone wants to be eating cups of broccoli or spinach , but you can find things that you do enjoy eating . Also , adding vegetables to your meals adds volume , which will help with keeping you satiated longer . If you are consuming the prescribed amount of vegetables and fruit each day , generally your food quality will be higher as well . More of these tend to equal less processed foods , and that ’ s what we are looking for in the long run for a strong foundation .

Live Well

Managing Stress
The final essential for building a strong , healthy foundation is managing stress . This has nothing to do with the food you are putting in your body , and it could be argued that this isn ’ t nutrition-related , but if you are doing everything right nutritionally , but your sleep is low or erratic , work is stressful , and you can ’ t recover , you will not see results you want . Most people forget this component of wellness .
Prolonged stress on the body increases the release of the hormone cortisol . It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system , the reproductive system and growth processes , and overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body ’ s processes . Therefore , having ways to manage stress properly is huge for overall wellness . Getting a proper night ’ s sleep is crucial for everyone , and will help with stress reduction – eight hours is the gold standard to aim for .
As far as other methods of stress management go , everyone has their own techniques : Go for a walk , spend time with loved ones , try yoga or getting a monthly massage . Find something that works for you , because keeping stress levels controlled will help our build our base , and add incredible value to both short- and longterm goals .
Nick Robert is a Durban-based fitness coach , nutritionist , life coach and wellness writer . He studied sports medicine and dietetics , and is owner and founder of both Rush Nutrition and East Coast Transformations . He believes in building clients both mentally and physically on their journey to self-improvement , and says that fitness is more than just training and nutrition , it evolves a person ’ s emotion and confidence , creating positive growth . You can find out more at https :// ectfit . co . za .