A question I get asked all the time is; "How do you fit all that training in while still working full time?"
I think people want to hear there is some way to cheat time or that in fact, I don’t work that much. Neither is the case. Many hours of hard training over nearly ten years is behind my recent successes, and that hard work continues all year round.
It is this consistency that is the key, and there are a few tricks which I have found invaluable. Here are five nutrition tips which you may find useful for the winter months especially if you have just resolved to pick up training again in January.
1. Be organised
Whether you train hard or not, one of the golden rules of proper nutrition is to be organised.
If you have planned your food for the day, you will not be as tempted to eat the snacks that someone just happened to bring to work (any excuse!) Make extra food and freeze it for those "need to eat now" scenarios when you are late home from the gym.
Always plan lunch for the next day when you are making dinner. Either make too much and take the leftovers for lunch or make yourself a salad while you are waiting for dinner to cook. I also like to have healthy snacks with me at all times; Primal Pantry bars are one my favourites for pre-training.
2. Don’t change everything at once
If you know that your diet needs an overhaul, don’t be too ambitious. Change one thing at a time and make it a habit.
If you don’t eat breakfast, for example, make eating it a habit first before you try to change the other parts of your day’s nutrition. Breakfast is so important, and eating something sustaining like porridge is an excellent way to prevent the afternoon binge.
I have a very set eating pattern which I find stops me having to overthink about "what" and "when". I can vary the calorie intake depending on my training load but I still enjoy the routine, and I know I am going to have enough energy for my big sessions after a hard day at the office.
3. Eat Carbs!
There are so many crazy diets out there, and there is a lot of backing for the low carb diets. I agree that too much processed starch is not ideal, but you have to eat carbs to be able to train. Fact.
Getting the right balance of carbohydrates in my diet enables me to train consistently and train hard.
4. Pinpoint your "problem foods"
Mine are wheat and dairy. I suffer from IBS - but most people have a problem food of one sort or another.
Maybe this food makes you feel tired, doesn’t digest well, or gives you stitches or cramps when you train. Food can even have a significant impact on sleep patterns.
So if you are suffering from any strange symptoms, like occasional insomnia, stomach aches, headaches or fatigue then try experimenting with cutting out certain types of food.
When I cut out wheat, I noticed a massive increase in energy and much better sleep quality. But remember Rule 3! If you go gluten-free make sure you replace the gluten-based carbs with something else.
5. Veg veg veg!
The Government guideline of "5-a-day" is targeted at your average person. If you are training and racing hard, then your body needs much more than this to stay healthy. Smoothies are another great way to ensure that I am getting enough greens and without the goodness being affected by cooking.
If in doubt, double up on your portions of veg. Usually, I cannot see the rest of my evening meal because it is buried under a forest of broccoli or kale!
So that’s it, nothing complicated or profoundly scientific, just a healthy and consistent approach to how I eat so that I can keep up the levels of activity in my life. Everyone has timetable challenges, and I expect many age-group athletes have to fit in even more into 24 hours than I do. But without good nutrition, it is just a matter of time before you are too exhausted to continue.
So stock that veg drawer, buy a nutribullet, fill up on healthy snacks and get a BIG Tupperware collection.