There’s that clichéd saying “you can’t out-train a bad diet” and it’s something that definitely rings true with me.
There’s no point pushing yourself training-wise without complimenting it with quality nutrition. I’ve learnt that you just won’t get the best out of yourself as an athlete.
Education has been crucial for me when it comes to nutrition. What have I learnt?
Here are my five top tips:
- Plan your meals. Don’t just wing it when it comes to your meals. Sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, get a recipe book out and pick out a couple of dishes you want to eat that week. Being organised with your meals makes eating healthier easier. Top tip: make extra so you can have leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Hydration is key. As humans we don’t drink enough water. I find if I always have a water bottle with me, I’m more likely to drink. There are so many nice ones out there at the moment so treat yourself and buy one you like and won’t lose. Sometimes we all have a sweet craving when it comes to drinks to get an extra kick. Instead of reaching for sugar filled fizzy drinks, my go to is a cold can of ginger and lemon Remedy Kombucha.
- Understanding calories. I made the mistake of not eating enough early in my career as I thought this was best. With the help of a nutritionist, I worked out my basic metabolic rate (BMR) and the energy I was expending training and tracked my diet to reflect this. I used MyFitnessPal for about a week to get an understanding of portion sizes and this really helped my education in how much I should be eating. When I started to eat more, I felt leaner, stronger, fitter and had better concentration for it. Top tip: use calorie counting as a short-term education tool rather than something to become really fixated on.
- Breakfast is king (or queen!). Kick start your metabolism in the morning and make sure you have a good breakfast. I try and get 20g – 30g of protein in. Eggs are a great source of protein or you can try adding in extra protein powder to smoothies or oats.
- Supplement your diet. For as long as I can remember I’ve used multivitamins to help give my body an extra boost. I will also periodically use Probiotics to help keep my gut healthy. During winter I will use Vitamin D to help with recovery and mood. Top tip: don’t be scared of using supplements but don’t depend on them. Try to get as much as you can from your diet naturally.
Shona McCallin MBE is an English international field hockey player. She won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, followed by a bronze at the recent 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.