Just Add Water!
Most people, instead of eating properly and training hard, want the "Magic Bullet" that will get them to their goals. Truth be told, there are no magic supplements. Consistent proper nutrition is the key to constant progress, not supplementation. Supplements can help but proper nutrition is paramount. The big picture is how you eat, train, and sleep.
Now that I have gained your attention, we will continue on with Nutrition 101. What are the basics you may ask? Whether you are trying to gain muscle, become fit, or just trying to stay healthy the key is to get nutrients to your body when you body needs them. Most of us were taught to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Did you ever stop and ask why three meals a day?
I didn't until I was in college studying Metabolism and Nutrition. One of my professors taught about the workday of farmers. One hundred years ago our day would start with a big breakfast, consisting of a protein, some starchy carbohydrate and a lot of fat, to keep us from being hungry so we could work six straight hours. We would then do about the same for lunch and again work another six or so hours. Dinner would be a little lighter.
Our eating patterns have been based on what is OPTIMAL FOR WORK, not what is optimal for health and physical performance. Three meals isn't optimal because there is too much time between feedings. For best results we should eat every two to three hours throughout the day. Following this pattern we would consume five to six meals daily.
By eating more often we provide the nutrients our bodies need to repair muscle tissue, keep our blood sugar levels constant, and maintain health. This is especially important for athletes who are pushing their bodies to the limits of exhaustion.
Eating in a timely manner is only the fist third of the nutrition equation. The second third is the proper combination of the foods we eat. Each meal should consist of a lean protein, some type of carbohydrate, and a limited amount of fat. Water should be consumed liberally throughout the day to maintain hydration.
Proteins And Carbs
Now that we know what to eat, and when to eat it, how much of each should we eat? Protein and carbohydrates are simple. Generally speaking a portion of protein or carbohydrates should fit into the palm of your hand. Think about it, that's a 4 - 6 oz. chicken breast and a 6 oz. potato, or a bowl of vegetables. Now do that 5 - 6 times daily and you are providing plenty of nutrients to your body.
Fat is a little more tricky. When consuming proteins and carbohydrate we can get plenty of fat. Read the label on chicken, turkey, oatmeal, pasta and rice, they all contain some fat. The body needs essential fat and that comes from sources such as flax oil, safflower oil, olive oil, or it can be obtained through cold water fish which would also count for protein.
Fruits And Vegetables
Even though I haven't listed fruits and vegetables that doesn't mean not to eat them. I suggest you eat at least 2 servings of vegetable and 1 serving of fruit daily. These are general guidelines not hard truths. It would be silly for me to say you should eat what I eat. Use these guide lines and adjust them to your situation.
Instead of looking for "Magic Bullets" we should strive to eat properly day in and day out. Supplements can assist in this endeavor whenever you don't have time to eat real food. But never for a minute think that any supplement can or should replace food.