If you want the body you’ve always dreamed of, you have to get your diet right.
There are no two ways about it – your diet and nutrition are absolutely essential to maximise your results.
Heard the old adage ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’? It’s absolutely true. You can train as hard or as often as you want, but if you’ve not got the right nutrition in place – whether your goal is fat loss or muscle building – you will struggle to hit your goal.
Ultimate Performance CEO Nick Mitchell puts it best in his article on Diet vs Training – ‘diet is simple, but it’s not easy’.
Diet is the one thing many people first struggle to get to grips with when they begin a body transformation journey at Ultimate Performance. But it’s the one thing that will deliver those jaw-dropping transformation results.
We asked UP clients which tips really helped them the most stay on track with their diets on help give them the consistency with the nutrition to make their successful body transformations…
1. Panos’ Diet Tip: Use a Food Tracker App
I use the app recommended for recording my meals every day – it’s called MyFitnessPal. You can scan the barcode on the food so you don’t even need to record down yourself the different nutritional elements.
You can automatically see how you’re doing against your target for the day. That keeps you in control.
When I got used to using that app, I could start thinking in advance the day before what I would be eating so I could stick to that programme for the day after.
It’s still slightly difficult having a meal out in a restaurant, so you can’t just go and scan a barcode, but what you can do is measure your food by looking at the size of a piece of meat or fish and work out roughly what it contains and it generally helps you keep in control of what you need to eat.
2. Jenny’s Diet Tip: Take Pictures of Your Food
I would say two things:
One, keep your diet interesting! If you’re bored with the meals you’re eating, speak to your trainer about it. Don’t just suffer in silence, because you’re just going to end up cheating on your diet.
Two, accountability. Find something to be accountable for. Whether it’s a person or a goal. I took pictures of every meal I ate on my transformation and if I didn’t take a picture I would freak out and write an essay on what I’d eaten to my trainer just to cover it.
That really kept me on track. When I was thinking ‘I’ll just have a small bit of mayonnaise on this’, I’d stop and think ‘well, I’ve got to take a picture of this. What will my trainer think?’ You realise where you’re cheating yourself when you have to take pictures because you question it just before you capture that image.
3. Ryan’s Diet Tip: Ruling Out Cheat Meals Makes It Easy
For me, the most important thing was to consciously commit to the statement that there are no cheat meals as long as I’m doing my transformation.
By ruling out eating anything at all that wasn’t on my meal plan, it meant I wasn’t constantly waiting for an opportunity to indulge, which could have easily spiralled.
Sugar cravings only become worse when you have some anyway, so completely abstaining seemed easier to me than trying to find ways to fit things in or around my meal plan.
4. Vicky’s Diet Tip: Don’t Fear Not Being 100% Perfect All The Time
If you make the right choices 80-90% of the time, you’ll do fine, and I think that’s about right. Don’t beat yourself up too badly for that other 10-20%, it’ll be too big a drag on your willpower!
5. Arthur’s Diet Tip: Always Be Ready for Tomorrow
I just planned everything and calculated which food to eat to fit my macronutrient targets for the day and then I just followed that, so it wasn’t difficult, to be honest.
I always knew what I was going to eat the next day. The best tip I can give is just to always plan everything in advance and be prepared. It makes your diet easy.
6. Dee’s Diet Tip: Think of Food as Fuel
I’d never seen food as fuel before. I’d seen it as this inconvenience that I had to do in between trying to do everything else.
Working through the sessions every week, looking at the nutrition plan, and understanding that every choice I make is for my benefit, has utterly changed the priorities of what I do, because everything before was for my career – ‘get a good job, work for a big company, earn lots of money.’ That doesn’t help your health at all.
It’s a game-changer. It puts you in charge of it (your diet). It allows you to make very clear and specific decisions to ensure that you can do and achieve what you want. It means that at 3 pm in the afternoon, like most office workers, you don’t have a nap.
Because you get to 3 pm and you normally feel like you’ve burned your day, then you feel like you need that energy and off you pop to have half a litre of coffee. It doesn’t help.
7. Neil’s Diet Tip: Space Out Your Meals So You’re Not Left Hungry
I thought the diet would be the toughest part, but I actually got used to it pretty quickly.
Once I got settled into the new diet after the first two weeks I immediately started to see some improvements.
The fat from around my waist was dropping off – the transformation after four weeks was pretty spectacular. I felt like I had so much more energy and was actually starting to sleep a lot better.
The food that Adam had included in the meal plan was all so tasty and I was even looking forward to eating steamed broccoli.
I still struggled with the portion sizes and would always be keenly waiting for the next meal though – I was constantly trying to space my meals throughout the day so I didn’t get stuck at the end of the day with nothing to eat.
8. Stuart’s Diet Tip: Flavouring Foods You Enjoy Makes Your Diet Sustainable
Prep as much as you can in advance, both in terms of actually making the food but also planning the meals/macros.
It’s really not as hard as it sounds, particularly if you batch cook protein and rice / sweet potato (to the extent you are eating it) a couple of times a week.
I tend to use a food tracking app in advance to work out roughly what I’m going to eat at each meal to hit my macros. That helps me avoid the situation where I get to 3 pm and discover I’ve maxed out on carbs or fats!
I would tend to cook veg as close as I can to when I eat it, even if that means quasi-steaming it in the microwave at work. Eating crunchier veg is my preference taste-wise, but I find it also fills me up more.
Equally, when cooking chicken, I will always try and flavour it with something, even if its just chilli or herbs – 12 weeks of plain steamed chicken is not going to work for anyone.
9. Sandra’s Diet Tip: Find Recipes You Love
Keeping things simple and being organised saves you so much time and makes you less likely to reach for junk food. Prep your meals!
Also, having some go-to meals that taste good and that you enjoy is the best way to stay on track with the diet plan.
It’s been my salvation. I was just eating plain chicken and veggies at first – and I was thinking ‘oh god, I can’t do this for 12 weeks’.
But then I found that I could fry it up with a bit of chilli, peanut butter and veggies and it was amazing.
The chicken with peanut butter, ginger and veg has been my favourite food on my transformation – plus turkey burgers with curry in.
I just fill up on it all the time. Once you find something you enjoy, then why not? It’s all healthy food and it fits the macros that my trainer set out for me. It’s not how you imagine a diet – but it fits in, and it works.
9. Sam’s Diet Tip: Make Your Weight Loss Competitive
The most important thing with staying on track with your diet is at the end of every day, I’ve got to tell my trainer what I’ve eaten. Because you’re weighing in every two weeks or whatever the period is, it almost becomes a competitive game if you like that you want to beat those numbers every two weeks.
At the end of every day you’ve got to tell them ‘I’ve eaten this’. You’ve got to be honest because your only going to be kidding yourself. So it’s a bit like school in that your reporting in to something.
But writing it down, you’re almost kind of shaming yourself into sticking to it as well. So reporting ‘this is what I eat today, this is what I drank today’ – that’s really helping you stay on track because I know my trainer is looking at it. So you get it done and it’s different to just keeping a food diary that no-one’s looking at.”
11. Gemma’s Diet Tip: Think Before You Eat
My best tip is to go off what you need as opposed to what you want. Obviously now and again people go with what they want at weekends, because they’ve worked hard and they want a reward.
The best tip is to think of it as fuel and not just food. You’ve got to think that you’re eating to fuel yourself, not just fill a hole or satisfy your appetite.
Just re-evaluate what it is you put in your system and think ‘is this food or is this something processed from a shelf that’s full of crap that will give me a fix for 10 minutes or is it something that’s grown, fresh and nutritious that’s going to make me feel great?’
It’s stepping back and thinking about it before just shovelling any old thing in.
For me, the best things that fuel me are eggs, salmon; I love rye bread, oat with fresh fruit in it, bananas, almonds and things like that.
I always think if something roams, grows, swims or flies, then I can eat it; if it doesn’t, then I don’t. If anything has a label on and I can’t pronounce what’s on the back of it, then I don’t really want to eat it.
12. Ben’s Diet Tip: Sleep and Hydration Will Help Control Your Appetite
Once you have a diet plan in place, it’s just a question of having the discipline to stick to it consistently. Always keeping your goal in mind helps and always remembering that your body transformation goal is far better than that piece of chocolate cake.
It’s easy to follow a plan when things are going good; it’s when things are going bad, you’re busy or stressed out, or haven’t planned or prepared your food that things can go off track.
It’s best to always plan for these eventualities. If ever I was caught short without food prep, I would know that I could go into a shop and buy some raw vegetables and a good source of protein from fish and chicken and that would follow my diet plan.
I also ensured that I emptied my fridge and cupboards of anything vaguely tempting that I could cheat on (for me that’s yoghurts, ice cream, chocolate and crisps). Removing the temptation or even the opportunity to be tempted is a big help.
Two more huge things for me were ensuring I was properly hydrated and had had enough quality sleep. Drinking 3 litres of water a day kept me feeling full and not feeling like I needed to eat all the time (yes, people often mistake thirst for hunger).
Sleep is so important for your body transformation for rest and recovery. But just see what happens to your appetite when you’ve not had enough sleep. You’re tired and low on energy, so your body is crying out for quick energy so you crave those bad carbs and junk food. Never scrimp on sleep!
13. Angela’s Diet Tip: Plan Your Meals Around Your Diary
At night I check in my diary where I’m going to be the next day, work out where and what I can eat, put it into MyFitnessPal until it’s spot on macros and then just do that. Once I started that regime it became so much easier!
14. Martin’s Diet Tip: Having a Clear Goal Helps You Stick to Your Diet
This is a hard one as we are all different but for me, it was the setting of the goal and having the desire to achieve that goal meant that I would stay consistent with my diet.
15. Marie-Claire’s Tip: Always Think ‘Is It Really Worth It?’
Visualise tomorrow’s weighing scale. Is that extra food really worth the disappointment you will feel tomorrow morning?
16. Aditya’s Diet Tip: Check Your Calories Before You Eat Them
I still mock up my next day’s diet on MyFitnessPal, check the nutrients, and tweak as necessary, especially if I know I am eating/drinking out on some evenings! Enter everything diligently into food diary/MyFitnessPal the moment you eat.
17. Carla’s Diet Tip: If You Eat Out, Check the Menu First
Plan for your week ahead (and I don’t just mean food prep) if you know you have meetings or travel plans, how you can eat around that. If you are going to eat out, have a look at the menu and get your PT to give you some options beforehand for meals that fit with your diet.
18. Nishant’s Diet Tip: Making a Little Time Saves You Even More All Week
Initially, I found it quite tough to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate my diet and workout regime. Particularly with my busy job I thought there was no way I could find time to go shopping and meal prep.
However, one of the things you soon realise is that if you want something bad enough, you will make time and find a way to make it happen.
In this case, I found a few hours on a Sunday night to cook a few meals in bulk (and I quickly found out that I liked cooking!), meaning I didn’t have to think about what I was going to eat for the rest of the week.
Soon I found myself completely hooked on everything diet and exercise. There is nothing more addictive than seeing tangible results to motivate you to keep going, because you know that every day, with every decision you make, you are getting closer to your goal.
19. Tony’s Diet Tip: Make Your Diet as Simple and Easy as Possible
For actually staying on track, I have a triangle of needs
1. Know where your next food is and spend as little time as possible attaining it (pre-prepared or a short walk) and don’t deviate.
2. Most flavour possible, so you never think your food is boring. Garlic and soy sauce are your new best friends.
3. Make it practical so you don’t have to put too much effort into having your meals close by, and fit into your daily regime.
20. Jade’s Diet Tip: Make Yourself Accountable To Someone
Staying on my diet was quite easy because I had a personal trainer who had my back at all times.
I would send my food and my measurements to him every day. It really helped to know you had someone there to send updates daily to about what you’re eating and your weight.
It’s like you have a teacher and you’re back at school, so you’re being supported constantly which means you’re not going off track.
21. Dan’s Diet Tip: Embrace the Process
The key thing that has helped me stay on track with my diet is just the whole transformation process. It’s the accountability which makes you want to stick to your diet plan.
The constant photos, the body fat measurements and my trainer looking at me and saying how different I look and muscles I didn’t think I had.
That stuff keeps you on track because you know it’s working. So you think ‘is it worth ruining it all because you have a craving for this or that?’ Once you are accountable and you’re tracking your progress, you won’t want to stray from your diet.