We find them on the internet, we read them in books and we receive them from our nutrition app. A nutrition plan helps us to manage our daily nutrition. Sometimes we get to read plans of elite athletes. Of course, everyone is keen to see what their diet looks like. Many take them as example and a few actually try to follow them as if it was their own nutrition plan.
There are many ways to plan an athlete’s nutrition. Not all athletes are equal and not all are happy with the same plan. While some look for as many details as possible, others prefer a broader, general guide. In the early phase it’s probably better to follow a more detailed plan. True, it can be overwhelming for some athletes which is a challenge but it’s important to have a clear, comprehensive guide first. Timing of meals, portion size and meal composition – they all matter. It’s not enough to give an athlete the daily totals and let them choose when and how to distribute foods during the day.
However, there’s more than that to be considered to make a nutrition plan a good one.
Copying a plan from somebody else is never the same as receiving a plan that is tailored to YOUR NEEDS and preferences. Think about it…We all have different schedules. We all live a different live in a different environment. We all have different goals. Why would you choose a plan that is designed to meet somebody else’s needs when you want to make it fit into your own individual situation to reach YOUR PERSONAL GOALS?
What happens when people take a plan from somebody else is: they often adjust it to their preferences. That’s obvious, we want to make it fit. Sometimes that includes skipping or adding meals and snacks, removing ingredients. Others find a plan and follow it in every detail it because they think it’s the right one for them. Do you know if this plan was supposed to support a certain training phase? If weight gain or loss was the goal? If there’s been specific needs that needed to be covered? If that person had some medical conditions that made certain steps necessary? That all influences a well-designed, individualized nutrition plan. Indeed, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration when you write a plan. It’s more than adding carbs, protein and some fats, and consuming these till bedtime.
It’s also important to emphasize that a nutrition plan needs to be flexible. There is no single food that can’t be replaced by others. There are alternatives for protein and carbs, and there’re different fat sources. Although there might be some foods that are preferred in a specific situation, there is always room for substitutes and alternatives.
Some people follow a strict plan and every unplanned change creates a lot of stress. That’s not how nutrition works. A good plan is flexible and allows adjustments.
These adjustments are sometimes necessary when schedules change. A monthly plan is nice, but how can you know what the Monday in three weeks looks like? There must be room for adjustments otherwise the plan doesn’t match the needs.
Some of the most common questions are: how many grams of this should I eat? How many calories is that? It has become a widespread belief that we need to know every calorie we eat. People count all the calories they eat. They consider every single gram of carbs or fats. And a plan is only a good plan when it states the grams and calories. Sometimes people even think it has to be this specific amount of carbs, one specific number. In recent years there have been many new devices that provide us with specific data on food. Unfortunately, this has led us to the point where we get focused on specific numbers for a meal or snack. But there is no single number that is the only correct one. A nutrition plan gives us a target range for macronutrients.
In the last years we’ve learned a lot about the importance of nutrient timing. When do we eat? When do we exercise? The right timing is important for the outcome. And it has effects on our well-being and health as well. A good nutrition plan not only lists the amounts we need but provides us with the information on when it needs to be eaten.
Think you need a nutrition plan that is tailored to your individual needs? Then get in touch with me and we get one set up for you!