Catalyst’s 9 Principles of Nutrition for Health & Fitness

Small Group Fitness in New York - Catalyst SPORT

In this post you will find some simple principles to guide your nutrition decisions. Using these principles you will feel full but not stuffed, not need to eat as often, and have more energy. And of course, these principles will also enhance your fitness progress!

 

  1. It’s not a meal without protein
    Protein is the building block of much of the body’s tissue, especially muscle. In addition, protein helps keep you more satiated, so you won’t be hungry as soon after eating. It’s also much harder to over-eat protein: you always have room for dessert, but at the end of a meal it’s much harder to eat more chicken.

  2. Include Healthy Fat
    Fat has been unfairly demonized based on bogus and outdated research, and the inane over-simplification “if you eat fat, you’ll get fat.” While fat is indeed the most calorie dense macro-nutrient, fats also serve vital roles in the body and is an important component of good nutrition. Opt for healthy fats such as fatty fish, olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and almonds. Avoid processed fats like trans-fatty acids, margarine, and shelf-stable oils like soybean or palm oil.

  3. Lot’s of vegetables (and fruit)!
    This one is self-explanatory—almost everyone knows to eat lots of vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain important nutrients to help you reach your health and fitness goals. A note on fruit: There’s a lot of confusion surrounding fruit; many are concerned about the sugar content. We say, enjoy your fruit, but don’t take it to excess. Fruit is nature’s delicious candy, but it is indeed more calorie dense than vegetables, so if your goal is weight loss, don’t overdo it on the fruit (2-3 servings per day is probably fine for most).

  4. Food Quality Matters 
    While a McDonald’s Hamburger and a burger made from clean grass-fed beef on a multi-grain bun have similar protein, fat, and calories, they are NOT the same. Eating quality foods will have a dramatic effect on digestion and systemic inflammation. Try to eat unprocessed foods as much as you can. Look for “single ingredient” food sources as a good rule of thumb. If you look at the label on a HotPocket, for example, it will contain dozens of ingredients (most of which you’d need a degree in biochemistry to even pronounce). By contrast, the label on a bag of spinach says “Ingredients: Spinach.” Opt for fewer ingredients in your food.

  5. Don’t drink your calories 
    Sodas, juices, and sports drinks are an unnecessary source of nutrient-poor calories. Most of these calories come from sugar, which is not needed in a normal meal. Replace them with water, seltzer, coffee, or tea. It’s an easy switch that can have big benefits!

  6. Save the sugars for post-exercise (or not at all)
    Sugar gets a bad rap, and for good reason—eating too much sugar and at the wrong time can be one of the easiest and most addictive ways to derail your health & fitness progress. Sugar does little to keep you satiated, causes spikes and drops in energy, skyrockets your insulin, and promotes acidity in the body. Depending on your goals, however, some sugar post-exercise can replete muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores in the muscle), reduce muscle breakdown, and start the recovery process. Warning: use sugar responsibly. 

  7. Drink enough water 
    If you’re not drinking enough water, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel once you increase your water intake. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and speed up joint and cartilage repair, among many other benefits.

  8. Supplements are just a supplement
    As part of a good diet, supplements probably contribute no more than 10-15% to your overall results. The key phrase there was “as part of a good diet.” Supplements don’t replace good nutrition, but they can, well, supplement it.

  9. Have fun
    Remember: The reason we work out and eat healthy is to live a better and more fulfilling life. Don’t let your diet run your life. Now, this isn’t license to eat crap all the time, but at other end of the spectrum, don’t skip out on dinner with your friends so you can eat bland chicken breasts and broccoli on a Saturday night— the same chicken breasts that you spent all day last Sunday meal-prepping :(. The key is to find balance— go out to dinner with your friends, but be responsible in your choices too.





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