Today I have another sports nutrition tip from my friend Brian St. Pierre, who wrote the Nutrition Guide for my new program Ultimate Hockey Transformation.

I like this tip for one reason: It’s incredibly simple to implement.

Almost every question I get about nutrition sounds something like “Is ‘x’ good?”

If you just follow the three simple rules Brian outlines below, you’ll be eating “power foods” packed with nutrients the overwhelming majority of the time. Enjoy!

Tip #8 – Eat Mostly Minimally Processed Whole Food

One of the best things you can do for your health is to improve the quality of your food intake. If you’ve been following along with these tips, you’ve learned the value of getting appropriate amounts of proteins, veggies, carbs, and fats at meals.

And those are really important tips. But once you have that down, its time to refine the sources of each of those groups. That’s where today’s tip comes in.

Minimally processed whole foods are foods that:

  1. You can hunt, fish, pluck, grow or ferment,
  2. Can be easily made from foods you could hunt or gather, and
  3. Have always been food.

This means foods like meats, fish and seafood, any and all fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils, whole grains, starchy tubers (like potatoes and sweet potatoes), and beans and legumes.

Hockey Nutrition: Meat and Vegetables

This has ALWAYS been food

That means that you should minimize the highly processed foods that are so rampant today – sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks (except for during intense activity), crackers, cookies, pastries, cakes, and donuts, fast food, and other concoctions of the modern food industry.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should never eat these things. What would life be without some ice cream or the occasional root beer? But, it means that you consume foods like that in moderation – they should not make up a big part of what you eat.

And that you should eat mostly minimally processed whole foods. There are several compelling reasons for this.

Missing Nutrients

The first reason is because these highly processed foods are missing tons of beneficial nutrients that are inherent to whole foods. As part of their processing, they are stripped of things like protein, fiber, some vitamins and minerals, water, as well as phyto- and zoo-chemicals

Whole foods naturally contain all of these nutrients in abundance. This means that whole foods give you more of the things you need to help you look, feel, and perform your best. And those highly processed foods just fall short.

Hyper-rewarding and hyper-palatable

In addition, highly processed foods are actually specifically engineered by food companies to overpower your brain, causing you to eat more calories than you need and eventually gain body fat, feel crummy, and perform poorly.

This is the other main reason that eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods is so powerful. When you eat these whole foods your brain is able to signal to you that you have eaten enough.

However, when you eat highly processed foods, they tend to be what are called hyper-palatable and hyper-rewarding. In essence, what happens when you eat these foods is that your brain becomes over-excited, and it can’t “hear” the signals telling it how much food you have eaten. This delays the signal telling you that you’ve eaten enough, and don’t need any more food. In the end, you eat more calories than you need almost every time, which will eventually catch up to you.

Dairy Queen Blizzard

Guilty.

Plus, processed foods can even simulate an addiction in your brain, much like drugs. Causing you to seek out these foods and over-eat them. The only way to break this is to consciously try to eat mostly whole, minimally processed foods, which don’t cause these problems.

The bottom line is you should aim to eat 80-90% of your food from whole, minimally processed sources. It’s totally ok, and even a little helpful, to have some processed foods, just be reasonable about it.

-Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, CISSN, PN1

P.S. For more information on how to get a copy of Brian’s incredible hockey nutrition manual, click here: Ultimate Hockey Transformation

Brian is a Registered Dietitian and received his Bachelor’s in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, where he also received his Master’s in Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is a Certified Sports Nutritionist as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Brian worked for three years at Cressey Performance as the head Sports Nutritionist and as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, working with hundreds of athletes and recreational exercisers of all types. During this time, he also authored the High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, Show and Go Nutrition Guide, Ultimate Hockey Nutrition and dozens of articles for publication.

Nowadays, he works closely with Dr. John Berardi as a full-time coach and a nutrition educator at Precision Nutrition. In particular, working closely with our elite athletes and fitness professionals. As part of the Precision Nutrition mission, he helps to deliver life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone.

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