Last time I introduced myself as a Performance Dietitian (and gave you way too much information about myself). This time I’m going to tell you more about what performance nutrition is. But before we can do that, we need to answer the following question:
Why should you care?
There are very few things in life that have the capacity to improve literally EVERY OTHER ASPECT of it. If you use a computer for work, going from an old model with slow internet speed to a new model with quick internet will yield immediate and significant performance improvements. Similarly, YOU are the fundamental unit in your existence. If you improve your body or mind, EVERYTHING that you do will be improved.
The saying‘you are what you eat’is literally true. Except for when you were only a sperm and egg, every single bit of you was created by some nutrients you (or your mom) ingested. Even now, your cells are continually dying off and being replaced. Some tissues replace much quicker than others, but every 7-10 years you are sitting in a brand new body.
But here’s the rub. Just like when you’re building anything else, the quality of the building blocks will determine the quality of the built product. Don’t input trash and expect an output of amazing. The concept makes sense, but it’s too easy to overlook the connection.
This is one of the reasons why I love nutrition science so much – you essentially have an Archimedes’ Lever (check it out, it’s pretty cool) at your disposal. Input a little effort on nutrition and your output will be a big improvement in your healthspan, lifespan, body composition, and performance.
Need some more convincing?
What’s your biggest fear? Just google ‘your fear and nutrition’. Guarantee you will find a link between the two, WHATEVER you input.
What is your biggest desire? Just google ‘your desire and nutrition’. Guarantee you will find a link between the two, WHATEVER you input.
Want some specific examples? I got ‘em.
Do you want to be more attractive? Great. I don’t have to tell you that nutrition is the single most important factor related to body composition. However, did you also know that people view the faces (when the body is not shown!) of healthy eaters as more attractive [1-2]?
Do you want to make more money? Great. Attractive people have been found to make 12-14% more than their less attractive peers .
Do you want to win more? Great. We have countless records of elite athletes, as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans training for the original Olympics, who have used special nutrition practices to enhance their training and performance .
All of that was probably unnecessary, but I like to get people hyped.
First, we need to get some things out of the way. Let’s define performance nutrition (Dictionary.com).
Performance:an action, task, or operation, seen in terms of how successfully it was performed Nutrition:the branch of science that deals with nutrients and nutrition, particularly in humans
Putting it together, we get something like: performance nutrition, as a field, involves the use of the science of nutrients to help a human carry out actions more successfully (I will be limiting future discussions to human performance nutrition, though there is great utility in things like canine/equine performance nutrition).
Notice that performance nutrition doesn’t distinguish between physical and cognitive performance. Much of the historical research efforts have gone into physical performance, with limited attention given to cognitive.
Don’t make the same mistake. All actions originate in the brain.
Final Thoughts: How many hours, days, weeks, months, and years have you spent on your craft? How good were you when you first started compared to you right now? I know for a fact you are better now. That sounds like an obvious observation, but I want to make a connection.
Many people ask me about meal timing, post-workout nutrition, and supplements. Yet that same person hasn’t seen a vegetable in over a year and eats burgers at 2am.
Performance nutrition is a skill that must be practiced and developed over time. You can’t short change the process. You’ll get 90% of the benefit of nutrition by focusing on the fundamentals, and you need to master those fundamentals before moving onto the specifics.
Sometimes what I’ll tell you won’t be sexy, but I promise you that it is true to the best of my knowledge and experience. It’s time to get serious and stop looking for quick fixes. You will be rewarded far more by getting your nutrition fundamentals dialed in. In fact, there is not a single supplement or ‘super food’ that can overcome the detriment caused by poor nutrition practices.
You need to crawl before you walk.
Once you get your daily nutrition right, you’ll be in a far better position to test out supplements and advanced nutrition protocols to see what actually works for you.
As far as structure goes, in support of what I just said above, I plan on covering basics first. However, my top priority is always to make sure that YOU are getting the most value for your time reading this. If you have specific questions or topics that you would like covered, let me know.
Seriously, it’s super easy. Just hit ‘reply’ and type out your nutrition questions. I read 100% of your replies.
PS – if you want to check out any of the articles I mentioned above, here are the references:
Stephen ID, Law Smith MJ, Stirrat MR, Perrett DI. Facial skin coloration affects perceived health of human faces. Int J Primatol. 2009;30(6):845–857. doi:10.1007/s10764-009-9380-z
Whitehead RD, Re D, Xiao D, Ozakinci G, Perrett DI. You are what you eat: Within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32988. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032988
Hamermesh DS, Biddle JE. Beauty and the labor market. The American Economic Review. 1994;85(5):1174-1194.
Ann C. Grandjean, Diets of elite athletes: Has the discipline of sports nutrition made an impact? The Journal of Nutrition. 1997:127(5):874S-877S. doi:10.1093/jn/127.5.874S.
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By Nick Hardwick
You’re here. Thank you for taking a moment out of your life and sharing your valuable time with us @hardwick.life. However you landed here, even if it was simply by mistake, you were meant to be exactly where you are now. For most of you, I’m guessing you’re either on a journey to finding your health and wellness, or you are nearing the point in your life when you’re ready to begin the transformation process, and are looking for help and inspiration.