You are what you eat

Diet is something that gets drilled into athletes from the very beginning and making sure you're putting the right fuel into your body can be the difference between having an ordinary game or having a great game. The Mayo Clinic in America found that most studies have demonstrated no or modest weight loss with exercise alone and that an exercise regimen is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change. So if you're serious about improving your health a good diet is a must.

That said, it's not just professional athletes and sportsmen that this applies to. Diet is something that is all too often overlooked by people getting into exercise and looking to improve their health. Even people who aren't doing regular exercise will find that they look and feel better when they put the right stuff into their bodies!

Start the day right

As strange as it sounds, eating a good hearty breakfast first thing can actually help you lose weight and kick-start your mind and body for the day ahead - regardless of what you're doing. In fact, skipping breakfast can actually contribute to weight gain and obesity, as well as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Breakfast is a great opportunity to get vitamins and minerals that are essential to your body that can be difficult to find in other meals, as well as being a great source of fibre. Obviously it's also important to be eating the right stuff, but that doesn't have to mean boring food!

Breakfast is a massively important meal for athletes. Due to the hard training days that we have to go through, it is essential that we get a good amount of food into us in the morning. A normal breakfast would consist of grilled bacon, scrambled eggs, mackerel, chicken breasts, steak, mushrooms, green vegetables, and tomatoes. Obviously, there is a lot of meat involved because we need high amounts of protein to help repair our bodies when they have been damaged. Including green vegetables is also important as this brings vitamins and minerals to the body. Other things also available at breakfast time are fresh fruit (which is best to eat in the morning ) and natural yogurt. Fresh orange juice is available along with just natural water.

Fat can be your friend

A lot of people think that if they cut fat out from their diet then they'll see big improvements but in reality the body needs fat to survive - this is especially true in rugby when a bit of extra protection can really make the difference. Firstly, fat helps you to feel fuller for longer between meals, slowing your appetite. Secondly, it provides essential fatty acids needed for optimal health and body processes. The same is true for calories - one of the biggest mistakes you can make is dramatically reducing your calorie intake and then expecting the fat to just fall off. All that will probably happen is you'll be tired more, lose muscle and won't be able to stick to it. The best kind of fat is monounsaturated fat that you'd find in nuts and cereals and eating more of them could not only provides protection from coronary heart disease, but also could increase your MyHealth score!

Be particular with your portions

You may be eating very healthy foods but you still need to keep an eye on your portion sizes because if they are too large, you will still gain weight. Deliberately try to take smaller portions when you have a meal. Do not feel that you have to empty your plate. Perhaps change the plates that you have in your cupboard (which may be large) to more medium-sized plates. In this way you will naturally serve up smaller portions. Fill up on fruit and vegetables. Ask for a smaller portion when eating out or ordering a takeaway.

Pile up the fruit and veg

We are told all the time that we should be aiming to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day for good reason: it reduces your risk of developing heart diseasebowel cancer and stroke, as well as containing plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals essential for the body. From a diet point of view, fruit and veg are low in calories and fat while still keeping you feeling full. To mix it up a bit, try some fruit and veg that you haven't tried before or experiment with some vegetarian recipes.

The real key to healthy eating is to tie it in with things you enjoy. If you make it a chore then you probably won't stick to it. Like I said before, you can still eat things containing the food you love. I love fish, so this salmon meal is perfect: full of protein, low in saturated fat and absolutely delicious!

For more information about healthy eating, take a look at this page.


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