There are a lot of great trainers around that can give you a thousand different training plans to push your body in numerous ways, but even the greatest workout would be meaningless if it is matched with a terrible diet. The most important aspect of making a healthy body, is fuelling it with the food it needs. Much the same as you wouldn’t use clay bricks for building Marina Bay Sands, you won’t be at your best for boxing or Muay Thai, if you’re filling yourself with Oreos. That doesn’t mean clay bricks don’t have their place, or that you can never have a little treat, it’s just important to be smart with your eating habits.
Dieting is a science with many paths that can be travelled to get the correct result, which leads to the inevitable question…where do I begin? The first worry for anyone making changes to their diet is often “what can’t I eat?”. Fortunately in these guidelines, you can eat whatever you want. If you want to go have dim sum, Korean barbecue family dinner, or a brownie and ice cream with a hot date, go for it. Happiness is the most important rule in my diet guidelines. You don’t want to sacrifice your life, or social life for nothing. A happy person is a healthy person, and generally not as hungry.
OK, OK….so what shouldn’t you eat (or at least only have in moderation)?
Enemy number 1 – alcohol. I know this one wont be avoided completely and that’s ok, because this is all about having a diet guideline that works for your life. Alcohol though is the ultimate evil, it can only properly be described as poison, that dries out your joints, kills your metabolism, is processed as sugar (ultimately ending up as fat), and damages your liver. While in your system, your body slows down other processes and focusses on getting the alcohol flushed out (typically one 250ml glass of wine take 3 hours), slowing recovery from training and repair to those sore muscles of yours. Have a drink once in a while when the time is right, maybe just not before stepping into the boxing ring, or when trying to look good for a photo-shoot.
Enemy number 2 – sugar. Most people don’t know sugar is highly addictive like a drug. Companies sneak it into almost everything because it will keep you coming back for more, along with the flavours and preservative benefits. Sugar packs on weight rapidly and also causes you to produce more acids that will slow down your boxing and Muay Thai workouts.
Enemy number 3 – processed grains. People have run hyper marathons without eating carbs. You can do it too (and skip the hyper marathon part), your source of energy just needs to be better. Brown rice, and sweet potatoes are ok sources of complex carbs that aren’t very egregious so if you do have carbs those are what to shoot for. Processed grains will be stored as fat in your body; they are also an inefficient form of energy for your body. Building you body with them is like using the aforementioned clay bricks to build MBS.
Enemy number 4 – preservatives. Various forms of salts such as MSG, and other chemicals like those used to create low fat milk, potentially having adverse effects on your hormone levels. Ultimately what makes a person gain weight has more to do with hormones than nutrients. If you are eating unhealthy processed foods you will become chemically imbalanced in some way, your appetite will change in unpredictably and you will also store excess fat and water.
What should I be eating?
Protein – The center piece of every meal whether your eating 6 small meals a day to get lean for a big fight, or 3 squares a day living the office life whilst training here at VBC. This is the number 1 building block; the steel beams that hold they sky deck up at MBS. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat several beef steaks or multiple chicken breasts, every day. Protein can be found in animals, vegetables and even grains (e.g. quinoa) so you can’t use your meat-aversion as an excuse here.
Greens – The best and cleanest source of energy. Greens like broccoli and spinach will fuel your workouts, decrease your acid production, and NEVER cause you to gain an ounce of fat. Greens are the work horse, the crane moving the beams around. Fuelling not just with energy but also providing valuable nutrients for the millions of chemical reactions the body has daily.
Fats – Turns out consuming fats wont make you fat. Your body produces long term storage fat from excess carbohydrates. The fats you digest are generally used a bit more like grease. You don’t want too much fat, and certainly not too many unhealthy fats. In the right amount though fat will help you feel fuller faster, assist with the body processing nutrients and even put you in a good mood. It will also provide a backup source of fuel for your body.
Keep an eye out for future blog posts when I dive into more detailed diet strategies specific to your training and lifestyle. Remember, just try to make responsible choices, and above all be happy.