3 Basic Nutrition Rules Athletes Need to Follow

Understanding the keys to good nutrition is super simple.

You are what you eat—well kind of... You are what you eat, absorb and transfer to your body's cells

– Dr. Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition.

Everyone is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Factors that affect digestion include age, gender, genetics, physical activity levels, resting metabolism, basal metabolism, non-exercise activity and more.

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? In most basic terms, it can be described as the 80/20 principle. How does this transfer to exercise and nutrition you may ask? Exercise and nutrition are two-fold, they fit together like a lock and key. It comes down to 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. You may exercise for an hour, but what are you doing those other 23 hours in the day to ensure you make the gains you are looking for?

It comes down to time spent away from training that matters most. Good nutrition can help control energy balance to maintain homeostasis in the body.

These three points can go a long way to help make more conscious nutritional choices. It should help align with your values, priorities and goals.

Rule 1: Don't Stuff Yourself

Eat when you're hungry and only eat until your 80 percent full. Take your time to chew your food and enjoy it. If you're typically a fast eater, eat something to slow you down, such as a salad. When eating, the body releases a hormone called leptin that sends messages that your filling up your stomach with good nutrients. Eating slow allows your body to release this hormone to tell you to stop eating before you over indulge.

Rule 2: Use hand sizes for portion control

Different sizes require different portions. People differ by body type, fitness level, body composition, dietary preferences, budget, nutrition knowledge and schedules. This can help you tune in to your own hunger and appetite. Precision Nutrition uses a simple system for males and females using individual hands

  • Males: Protein- 2 fists, Carbohydrates-2 cupped hands, Fats- 2 thumb sizes
  • Females: Protein-1 fists, Carbhoydrates-2 cupped hands, Fats- 1 thumb size

Rule 3: Focus on quality goods

Pay attention to what you eat. Read the labels; it takes only a few extra seconds. When you are more aware of what you're eating, you will naturally make better choices, eliminate nutrient deficiencies and eat less food overall. Eat better quality whole foods and less processed foods. Whole foods are more nutrient dense and will keep you fuller longer. This applies to one of our previous points.