There are 10 basic nutrition habits that we teach at UFS to help deliver the body of your dreams. They’re designed to give you mastery over your diet, helping you make the right food decisions no matter your situation. Like most successful strategies, there’s no trick, cheat or hack. Good nutrition comes down to you and the choices you make: healthy eating is a lifestyle, and lifestyles are made of habits. If these are yours, that’s great! Keep doing what you’re doing and read on for why you’ve made some great choices.

If you’re not following these habits, don’t despair: this is for you!

We all have to start somewhere, and this could be the crucial starting point to your future physical success. If you are not following any of these top tips for healthy eating, you needn’t perform a complete overhaul all at once. Start with one habit and focus on it for a week. Pick up a new habit the next week, and continue to until you have mastered all of them!

The important thing is to stick with it. Habits take weeks to form, but with persistence you will be able to transform your eating and your body for the better.

The secret to high performance training and healthy eating is persistence and positivity. Don’t fret over the mistakes: think about what you’ve done well, which habits you’ve kept and the good meals you ate. Think about how great it felt to fuel your body with clean-burning foods, and build on those successes to form the best habits for your high performing body.

1. Eat Frequently

You’ve skipped lunch again for the third time this week, and yet again when dinner rolls around you eat your cupboards bare. It’s a binge cycle and it’s the enemy of high performance nutrition.

Eating frequently doesn’t mean eating six meals a day; to keep your metabolism running high and maintain your lean muscle mass we recommend eating every 3-4 hours. You don’t have to set a clock to that either - what you eat (we’ll get into that soon) is much more important than the exact time you consume it.

2. Eat Slowly. Eat Only Until Satisfied

Mum’s warning to chew your food thirty times isn’t all nonsense: you should take 15-20 minutes to consume your meal. If that seems like a very long time to be eating you’re not wrong; most people eat much too quickly for their stomach to have time to register the food you’ve eaten.

Listen to your stomach: you don’t have to eat everything on the plate. For weight loss, maintenance, and general good health you should eat only until satisfied, not until you feel full. Think of ‘full’ as a last warning from your stomach. If your aim is weight gain, then eat fast keep going until that alarm sounds!

3. Eat Protein with Every Meal

The base of a good meal is protein, and the keystone in your nutrition plan.

By including one serving (the size of your palm) in every meal, you’ll build greater muscle mass and lean tissue, improve bone density, recover faster, gain strength and feel less hunger between meals.

We recommend that men consume 2 serves (40-60g) of protein at every meal, and women consume 1 serve (20-30g). Most animal protein sources have roughly 20g protein per 100g of weight. Here are the most popular protein-rich training foods and their correct portion sizes:

Chicken 18g/100g

Salmon 22g/100g

Beef 21g per 100g

Eggs 6.3g/egg

4. Eat vegetables/Fruit with Every Meal

Mum was also dead right about vegetables: eat your greens! Packed full of goodness such as powerful anti-aging phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to optimise health, you should aim to include 1-2 servings of fruit and vegetables at every feeding opportunity. One serving is roughly equivalent to the size of your fist, so stack your plate high with nutrient-rich plants.

5. Eat ‘Quality’ Carbohydrates with Most Meals, Especially Around Exercise

A sizeable proportion of your carbohydrate intake should be from nutrient-dense fruit and vegetables, but we know resisting starch when you’re training is a big ask. Make sure you get your starch intake from minimally processed foods: rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and legumes. Resist that bread: you don’t know what’s in it.

Carbohydrates are essential, but make sure you’ve earned them. The quantity you can afford will be determined by your levels of muscle mass, percentage of body fat and insulin sensitivity - so don’t just have what he’s having!

6. Drink Only Zero Calorie Drinks

Guzzling down high-calorie drinks is the most disappointing way to ruin a diet. The calories go unnoticed by the body so they can really rack up fast.

To keep your nutrition on track, stick to the trainer’s beverages of choice: black tea, black coffee and the almighty water. Everything else is going to contain calories which would be better-used delivering wholesome nutrients.

Fresh juice and even alcohol are ok in moderation, but remember that beer is worth a lot of bread.

7. Consume Healthy Fats Daily

Do not fear saturated fats, they are your friends in moderation. Your body doesn’t just want fats, it needs them to operate. They’re essential for proper hormone production, cell formation, immune function and overall health.

Avoid consuming industrial vegetable oils: corn, sunflower, soybean, etc. and instead get your fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, salmon, olive oil, and coconut oil.

8. Food Quality Matters

You may have picked up a running theme with these tips: eat whole foods! What you eat is more important than how much or when, and what you need is minimally processed real foods. Real foods seldom come wrapped in plastic and sealed in foil. A real food is something you could hunt, grow, forage or ferment. If you don’t know how they made it, it’s a sometimes food.

9. Be Prepared

It’s not revolutionary to say fresh whole foods are better than those cheese crackers in the pantry. But there’s a reason we snack on processed foodstuffs instead of the good foods we know we should eat: they’re there and you don’t have to cook them!

That’s why you food prep is an essential element of any training routine. Nobody makes the right food choices on the fly: know that and accept it. Make sure you’ve done the work ahead of time and you’ve got the right meals whenever you’re hungry.

The best practice strategy is to buy food twice per week and prepare it then. Wash and cut your vegetables, cook all the meat/chicken for salads and then line up your containers ready to go. You’ll have the right portion and the right food groups ready to eat.

10. You Still Got to Live a Little!

One sure-fire way to ruin an eating plan is being merciless. If you push too hard you’ll never stick with it, so we follow a 90/10 rule at UFS to make your nutritional program tolerable. 90/10 rule works on the premise that you will get great results if you follow your program and nutritional habits 90% of the time.

You don’t have to be a machine to reach your goals, and downtime is essential to keep you on top. That 10% of the time you are free: to make mistakes, sneak treats or just skip meals. Be kind to yourself, and always remember –

You have complete control over what you put in your mouth. No one ever ate anything by accident.