When it comes to optimum health and how we look and feel exercise is only half of the equation. What we eat and drink is vitally important. Regardless of your goals be it weight loss, improved energy levels, body building or rehab our diet is key to helping us achieve our goal. We are what we eat,  we need food to sustain life, to move and  for all other bodily function. Would you prefer to be made from good quality fruit , veg and quality meat or burgers chips, crisp and sweets?

We used to view ourselves as machines with food being the fuel that runs us. We now know that we are far more complicated. We are more like a ecosystem with millions of different parts that are all intertwined affecting each other. Therefore we need to mind and protect this system. We need to provide it with all the key nutrients, vitamins and minerals to create a healthy system and avoid anything that could pollute it.

Basic good nutrition is no longer the preserve of Nutritionists. We all know the basics, but daily we choose to make poor decisions. We know we should grill and not fry, we know we should avoid foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar . We know we should not smoke, and limit our alcohol consumption. Most of us have the basic knowledge to succeed, it is now more about motivation and making the right choices .

How Many Calories do we Need

To calculate your daily calorie requirements click here. There is one table for women and one for men. All you need to know is your weigh in LBS. (14lbs in a Stone or 1kg is 2.2lb) your height in inches, you age and activity level. Once you have completed the table all you need to do is add 300 calories per day if you are on a weight gain program or subtract 500 calories for weight loss. Once you have got your new calorie requirement insert that into the bottom table to get you calories per meal.

You will see from the meal planner that you are required to eat 5 meals per day. 5 small meals has been scientifically proven to increase your metabolic rate, manager your sugar levels which results in you feeling less hungry.  This reduces your appetite and calorie intake so you lose weight.

If you have a smart phone there are many calorie/diet apps that provide you with  information on Calories in food .They allow you keep a food and calorie diet per day, week and month . Myfitness plan app is just one of many .

The Basics

Your diet is broken down in to Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals and Water.


Carbs should make up 60% of your diet. The primary function of carbohydrates is to produce energy for the body. The main source of carbohydrates are bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, vegetable, cereals, fruits and wholegrain. Carbohydrate is converted to glycogen which is the fuel for the body. High glycogen concentrations will allow you to train at your optimal intensity and achieve a greater training results. Low glycogen will lead to early fatigue, reduced training intensity and suboptimal performance. It is highly recommended that before exercise athletes consume a high carbohydrate meal.

When looking at carbs you should take their Glycaemic load (GL)into account. In simple terms this refers to the amount of energy in the food and how quickly it gets into the body. A watermelon for example releases it energy quickly into the system but doesn’t contain much energy. Where as brown pasta releases its energy slowly but has a lot of energy contained in it. Therefore watermelon has a high Gl and brown pasta has a low GL. This is import for two reasons, if you chooses foods with a low GL you will feel fuller for longer. If you are exercising you want to be fuelled with food that release their energy slowly for the duration of the exercises, rather than one that releases it very quickly at the beginning leaving energy reserves depleted for the rest of the exercise.

In summary chose carbs that have a low GL. These are normally your less processed carbs such as wholemeal bread, rice, pasta and veg etc. Avoid white bread, white rice, white pasta, sweets, cakes and  high sugar product. When food is processed they normally lose many of their vitamins and minerals, so that’s another reason to choose low GL foods. Click here for list of GL foods and their values.


We are 22% protein. Protein should make up 20% of your diet. The function of protein is to build and repair body tissues such as cells, skin, muscle tendon and ligaments. Protein can be used as a secondary energy source when glycogen runs short. The main source of protein is from animals and dairy products but some vegetable such as beans can provide a good source of protein. Protein is unique as the only muscle building source in the body. A suboptimal protein intake will result in slower gains in muscle strength, size, and mass or even muscle loss despite hard training. Carbs and fats can’t make muscles therefore you can’t turn fat to muscle no matter how hard you train. However, eating protein on its own wont built muscles – one must also overload the muscles with training to encourage the muscle to grow.

When choosing protein always go for lean meat with the skin and fat removed, choose turkey eggs, fish, nuts, seeds and beans. Click here for list of good sources of protein



We consist of  13% fats. The human brain is the fattest organ in the body and may consists of at least 60% fat.  Fat should account for 20% of your diet, Fat is the second energy source in the body. Fats are classified into 4 types: Saturated , Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated and Transfatty acids.

Saturated Fats are solid at room temperature and predominantly from animal products e.g. Butter, lard, Cheese and Meat. They are used in processed foods such as biscuits, cakes and pastry. Too much can increase your cholesterol so should be kept to a minimum

Monounsaturated fats are Liquid at room temperature e.g. Olive oil, Rapeseed oil.They are thought to have the greatest health benefits by helping to reduce cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature they are found in vegetable oils (e.g. linseed, soya bean) and fish oils. There are 2 essentials fats in this group – Omega 3 & Omega 6. Experts recommend we increase our intake of Omega 3. We should eat 1-2  portions of oily fish per week (e.g. mackerel)


Key benefits of Omega 3 include:

–        Improves strength, energy and endurance by  enhancing  aerobic metabolism,

–        Promotes quicker injury recovery,

–        Protects the immune and nervous system.

  • Omega 6 promotes the healthy functioning of cells, membranes and skin.

Transfatty  acids. Small amount occur naturally in meat and dairy but most are man-made in processed fats. They are believed to be more harmful than saturated fats as they:

  • Increase cholesterol levels,
  • Inhibit the body’s ability to absorb essential fatty acids such as Omega 3,
  • Increase the risk of heart attach (by 53%),
  • Slow down the healing process.
  • Cut down or avoid the following .Oils/spreads made from hydrogenated oils, fast foods, cakes/biscuits, crisps and chocolate bars.


Vitamins are required for growth, health and physical well-being. Many form the essential parts of the enzyme system that is involved in energy production and exercise. Others are involved in the immune, hormone and nervous systems. Click here to see full  table on Vitamins Source and Functions

Key vitamins include:

  • Vitamin C. Did you know that Humans / Primates are one of the few animals that don’t naturally produce Vitamin C within their own body. This is due to our ancestors extremely high fruit and veg diet that supplied us with plenty of Vitamin C. Approx 2000mg per day. Most people get about 5% of that a day,ie 100mg. For optimum nutrition we should aim for about 100omg per day.

Vitamin c is required for

–       The formation of connective tissue and certain hormones (Adrenaline)

–        Involved in the formation of red blood cells which enhance Iron absorption.

–        Helps prevent infection.

Vitamin E – Powerful antioxidant which protects cells from damage.

Vitamins B1, B2, B3 – involved in releasing energy from food.

Vitamin B6 – Needed for making red blood cells and new proteins.


We consist of 2% Minerals. Minerals are inorganic elements that regulate the structural roles in body. Some minerals such as calcium and phosphorus form part of the structure of bone and teeth. Others are involved in fluid balance in tissue, muscle contraction, nerve function and the formation of red blood cells. Click here to see full table on Minerals source benefits and quantities

Key minerals include:

  • Calcium – required for bone formation/muscle growth, muscle contraction, nerve transmission
  • Iron – used in the formation of hemoglobin (which transports oxygen in the blood) and myoglobin (which transports oxygen in muscle cells).
  • Zinc is essential for protein synthesis, it aids in healing and immune function, and is present in antioxidant enzymes and enzymes involved in energy metabolism.


We are made up of 60% water.  Without water most people would die within 4 days. In a normal 24 hour period we lose 1.5 ltrs in urine 750ml through the skin , 400ml in breath and 150ml in faces. It is easy to see then how we need 2lts of water a day and more if it’s hot or we are exercising.

A loss of just 2% in your hydration will affect your ability to exercise by 10%-20%, a loss of 5% will affect it by 30% and a loss of 8% will cause dizziness, labored breathing, weakness and confusion. Dehydration is cumulative which means you can easily become dehydrated over successive days if you don’t rehydrate properly. Signs & Symptoms include: Sluggishness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, feeling excessively hot, lightheadedness, nausea and small volumes of urine which is dark in colour and has a pungent smell.

Dehydration results in:

–        blood being thicker and therefore more difficult to pump,

–        nutrients taking longer to reach muscles

–        waste products (e.g. lactic acid) being retained in the  body due to water conservation.


Remember you are what you eat.