It seems everywhere you turn, there are some pretty strong opinions on macronutrients, aren’t there? In the last few years, that spotlight and been shining bright and hot on carbohydrates. Low carb, no carb, refined carbs, processed carbs. I don’t think an entire food group has received so much attention since the low fat/no fat focus of the 80’s. Thank goodness the fat fad, along with leg warmers and parachute pants, are distant memories. The 90’s introduced a food pyramid that must have made many bread and cereal companies very happy and profitable. Not to be outdone, protein got its moment in the spotlight in the early 2000s and thereafter when smoothies seemed to develop into a distinct new food group. In the last few years, the focus of many fitness and nutrition experts turned to nutrient timing. Must you eat breakfast? How late is too late to eat at night? What protein:carb ratio should I eat before, during and after a workout?
Eating went from something we didn’t do in the 80’s to something we thought we had to micro-manage…until now. So what is a rider to do if she wants to be well-fueled for the demands of daily barn tasks and riders?
The bottom line: All macronutrients are important to an efficiently functioning metabolism. Just to name a few of the vital functions of each macronutrient: Protein is necessary to build muscle, fats are needed for the absorption of certain vitamins and carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel and energy.
Unless you have a specific food allergy or intolerance, the problem is usually not the food group itself. The real trouble maker for most people is the portion size of that food being consumed over the course of the day (to a greater extent) and the timing of when it is being consumed (to a lesser extent).
Most people just need to focus on 4 basic questions when it comes to eating. The questions one should ask each meal are:
1. How much am I eating? Without portion control, you won’t get very far whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain.
2. How am I eating? Believe it or not mindful eating is very powerful when it comes to regulating portion control. Slow and right beats fast and wrong every time!
3. Why am I eating? Is it because of actual hunger or to fill some emotional need?
4. What am I eating? The best choices are minimally processed proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats.
When these questions follow the 80/20 rule, most people end up doing very well from a nutrition standpoint. All the 80/20 rule means is that you get the answers to those 4 questions “right” 80% of the time. That leaves 20% for cheats and treats. When you sit down and think about it, 20% is a LOT of wiggle room!
SO let’s say you have been doing well with your 80/20, you have your fitness dialed in but something still feels off-maybe your fat loss is grinding to a halt or your energy levels are not where you want them. If you want to take your nutrition just one step more farther, try discussing the idea of nutrient timing with your nutrition coach. The two biggest variables surrounding nutrient timing is when you eat your carbohydrates each day (not IF you do because you will eat them) and what kind of carbs you choose at different points in the day.