# 14 – Learn to cook, learn nutrition, earn your fitness results for life.

Hi guys, I’m Jim from Jimshealthandmuscle.com, Audiofitests.com and yourfitnesssuccess.com.

In this episode I want to talk about cooking, meal prep and education on nutrition.

But first I want to do a quick update on the “homeworkout for beginners video course that Ive been working on.

Right! I have actually got the first module finished and ready to go now. This is all about, planning, prep and mind-set. I believe that this module will benefit anyone who wants to actually get results from their training and to be honest, getting results is something that I want for everyone so it’s a really important part of fitness.

Motivation does also future in this part too as planning and prep goes hand in hand with motivation. One of the biggest motivators is actually seeing results for your efforts so there’s a real synergy between the two.

Anyway This module is done and I’ve moved onto the actual recording of the workouts and exercise choices. I’ve also decided to build the website myself and have made a good start on this too along with putting the delivery systems in place. This is actually why I missed creating a podcast episode last month.

Anyway, that’s where were at so far for anyone who is interested in this, as always I will be offering lifetime access to you guys that are on the email list and give more in-depth updates via email too.

But now, let’s talk about cooking, nutrition and lifestyle!

Learning to cook

First let’s talk about cooking. I was interviewed not long ago as part of a series from another Personal trainer, fitness blogger and as a final question, she asked “Can you give one piece of advice to anyone new to weight loss and fitness that will make a difference”

Of course, this is a great question as there are so many answers that I could have given, but the first one that popped into my head was to go with – “learn to cook and cook good food” Then I went on a short ramble about this opening a lot of doors and giving you a chance to learn about nutrition and plenty of options when it comes to food choices and even help you create your own recipes.

So a bit of back story about my approach to food – I am not one of those fitness professionals that only ever eats broccoli, brown rice and boiled chicken breast all the time and looks down on people who eat fast food. I’m not one of those guys that counts calories or sticks to certain food groups, cuts out carbs or does any type of fasting diet etc.

But I am pretty sure that there is no one in this world that likes cheeseburgers and pizza more than me and I think I would do pretty well in a cheeseburger or pizza eating competition.

So why am I not super obese or out of shape? Because firstly, everything in moderation but we’ll chat about that in a few minutes. Secondly, I learned to cook healthy alternatives and learned to enjoy cooking and eating these meals. I am also interested in fitness and hitting goals and diet plays a huge part in this.

Learning to cook along with knowing how to identify the “good” and “bad” parts of the nutritional values that make up a certain meal helps so much when it comes to every day cooking and eating.

Actually my cheeseburger situation is a great example here. So if you go to a fast food chain and get a quarter pounder with cheese, you will probably get a quarter pound burger in a white bun with a bunch of cheese and a bunch of sauce all over it.

So my approach to this is – How can I make this for myself as a healthy option? Starting with the burger patties; I know that to make a good, tasty burger you should use minced meat that’s high in fat, normally 15 – 20% fat. This is a LOT. If you use meat that’s 20% fat, that’s nearly a quarter of your burger right.

So I would make my healthy burger with lean meat, and always go for meat with 5% fat. Straight away, you are making a huge difference to this cheeseburger.

Next I would look at the cheese. I’d go for a sharp cheddar. There are a few reasons for this. First off, cheese is very calorie dense so if you are aiming to lose body fat it’s probably a good idea to limit your cheese intake. By having a small amount of sharp cheddar on your burger, you get a lot of flavour with a much smaller amount of cheese, so you really don’t need to put a lot on here.

The next thing to change is the sauce. Of course you can go for good old fashioned ketchup but classic ketchup is absolutely loaded with sugar! Refined sugar is not great for anyone wanting to lose weight and it is in a LOT of foods that would probably surprise you if you hadn’t looked into this before… But let’s stay on track and not go down that rabbit hole!        

Ok, so you can get ketchup that has 50% less sugar from the shops and this is something that I always have in the cupboard, so you are saving a lot of refined sugar just by choosing something like this and when you also think of portion control and use it sparingly, you are also adding to the healthiness of your food. So this is a good choice. But I came up with an idea that coleslaw would be good on this burger so decided to look into healthy options for this.

The main problem with coleslaw is the mayonnaise. Mayonnaise, like cheese is pretty calorific. Just like the Ketchup there are versions of mayo that are reduced fat but even then, they are not great, but it’s still a better option this is an option.

But I decided to try and make coleslaw with natural yoghurt. Right I actually hate natural yoghurt! I’ve tried several times to get this in as I believe it’s great for certain health benefits and It would be great if my body would allow me to actually get it down but it just makes me gag!

But this is the thing about cooking and knowing how to identify good foods and then experimenting in the kitchen to find ways to get these foods into your diet.

So natural yoghurt, a bit of black pepper, a squirt of lemon juice, a bunch of grated cabbage and a few spring onions makes a really healthy and importantly tasty coleslaw!

The last thing to consider is the bun that the burger comes in. You have loads of options here, you could just go for cheap burger buns, but there are alternatives such as pitta bread, soy based bread or you could even sack the bun altogether and go for a jacket potato, sweet potato fries and just use a knife and fork to eat it with rather than having to use your hands, yeah this is a bit more inconvenient but it’s still an option.

When you put all of this together you have a really healthy alternative to a classic, favourite fast food and you can choose to add this to your cooking skill CV and once you get it right, that recipe is in the bank.   

But this is just one example of how knowing how to identify good food, knowing the alternatives and experimenting with cooking. So if you have a food that you can’t get enough of, why don’t you try and do the same? Feel free to give me a shout if you struggle, and I can try and come up with ideas, actually this would be really interesting to have a go at, I’d be well up for learning new ideas!

Learning about basic nutrition

The next thing I want to talk about is learning about basic nutrition. I’ve said it a few times before that nutrition is a huge subject and can get very complicated and confusing but all you need is basic knowledge that’s accessible to everyone. If you know what to look for, and how to approach it, you can make well informed decisions when it comes to meal times and cooking.

So a good starting point is to know basic food groups and nutritional values of these foods. “Groups” include, dairy, meat and fish, grains and fruit and vegetables and it’s easy to get this mixed up with the nutritional values of different foods in these groups. I think the most important thing to do is to look at each food and judge it on its nutritional value rather than what group it fits into.

For example – Natural yoghurt is classed as dairy but it is actually a good protein source. Quinoa is classed as a grain but it is a good protein and fibre source, Fish is thrown into the meat category and this is classed as a protein, but can be a really good source of “Good fats”, same thing goes for fruits and vegetables, like Avocado for instance.

Just a quick side note on fats here. A lot of people will avoid all fats because “fat” is what we want to get rid of right, and this makes sense? This is a bit misunderstood and its easy to see why. There are good fats and bad fats, a good rule of thumb is that if a fat is liquid …… at room temperature, not a tray full of fat that has just come out of the oven from a chunk of fatty meat. , it has much better nutritional value than a fat that is solid. Another way to approach it is that oils and fats that are plant based such as sunflower oil, olive oil and nuts and seeds or oils that come from nuts and seeds have a lot more nutritional benefit. So this is something to also consider.  

Getting back on track, my point here is that once you understand what nutrition makes up the foods that you are cooking with, you will be able to put a meal together that is balanced and healthy or make it more protein rich for instance, say if you want to put on more lean muscle or if you know you have gaps in your diet, you can easily fill this in just by understanding the nutritional value of the foods you are eating. you can more easily taylor your cooking to suite your personal goals.

So the main practical takeaway for this is that once you start cooking and experimenting with your own recipes in the kitchen with a view to cooking healthy meals, you will notice that ready meals and convenience food that is already cooked can have a lot of hidden, processed elements thrown in there and it is a lot harder to identify what nutrition makes up this meal.

Whereas, if you cook with whole foods and understand the nutritional value of these foods, and you get into experimenting in the kitchen, you’ll not only be able to cook meals that support your personal fitness goals but you will be able to identify what’s a good choice and a bad choice of food when it comes to deciding what foods to eat that you didn’t cook yourself. So this is pretty valuable and like anything that’s worth learning, this might take time, it’s also an ongoing thing too. But it is certainly worth learning as thins knowledge will last you a lifetime.

Everything in moderation and metabolism.

The next point that I want to talk about is moderation and metabolism. This is a pretty big one. So if you have a good basic understanding of nutrition as in which foods offer the best, useful nutrition for your body, that’s a great start but you also have to understand that too much of anything is probably not a good thing. This is where portion control comes into play. Portion control is basically the amount of calories you are putting in. First off, calories are not a bad thing, the best way to look at calories is energy, this is another misconception for a lot of people. Too many calories in vs calories burned means that you will store the unburned calories as body fat.

So yes! Calories will make you put on weight but you still need to put calories in!

If you are just eating whole foods and all the good stuff, but eating way more than your body needs, this will result in extra body fat stored.

The obvious way to deal with this is to eat smaller meals. Believe it or not, this works really well. But by doing this you can eat more times per day too. There are also extra benefits in eating little and often. The big benefit here is that you will be working on increasing your body’s metabolism. The metabolism is the body’s way of processing the food or “calories” that you eat. To process food, your body needs to use energy, energy that comes from the food you give it, so if your metabolism is working efficiently, you will be burning more calories all of the time.

So a balanced diet using whole foods eating little and often is close to the perfect storm. But there are a few more things that needs to be considered.

Moving onto the final point in this episode, these are…

Sustainability and lifestyle

There are loads of diet ideas and a lot of advice out there to follow and a lot of this information especially when it comes to diet is contradictory. This just adds to the confusion. High fat diets, low fat diets, high protein diets, fasting diets, carb loading diets, carb depletion diets and so on and so on.

But the bottom line is that a lot of these diets will give good results when it comes to fat loss if they are followed correctly but are they sustainable?

The answer here is it depends. It depends on whether or not you are the kind of person that can live a life without cheeseburgers or pizza or if you can fit a fasting diet around your working and home life. Are you able to cut out certain types of nutrition for the long term. Is a diet that a friend of yours has had success with, something that you are able to follow?

When it comes to diet, you should always look for sustainability, seeing the benefits from eating foods will not come after one healthy meal, you will start to benefit after a sustained effort, just like exercise. Getting results through good diet and exercise is never easy, so to get these results, it’s a better option to make it as comfortable as you can. If you decide to start fasting for example, are you able to function in your working life, will this work for you if you have other life commitments? Will this affect your exercise routine negatively?

Considering this stuff is a major part of planning and will have a bearing of whether or not you get the results that you really want from a change in diet.

Your lifestyle may be totally different to everyone else’s so it’s important to work out your nutrition around your lifestyle rather than working out your lifestyle around your nutrition.

So to tie everything together here my theory is that if you know what foods have a good nutritional value, you learn how to cook and experiment with these foods, you won’t ever have to go on any kind of depletion diet, you won’t have to make drastic changes to your eating habits, you can look at how to fit this into your lifestyle so it is sustainable for the rest of your life and if you do want to change your goals, (say that you started off wanting to lose body fat last year, but now you want to build more lean muscle) all you have to do is tweak a few things here and there, no big changes, just a few tweaks to calories in vs calories out.

Ok, just before I wrap this episode up I want to mention that a few years ago I actually wrote a book on diet and nutrition but decided not to publish it. When I was reading it back I just thought “Jeez this is boring!”, so I just left it! It read more like a text book for a student and felt that it was not that engaging. I will probably revisit this one day but if this type of thing is interesting to you or if you have any nutrition and diet questions or ideas that you think would make this interesting and readable, I’m all ears and I’d appreciate these ideas, maybe it could be a really useful resource. Drop me an email at Jim@jimshealthandmuscle.com. As always its great to hear from you guys.

Anyway, Im gonna leave it there so if you have found this interesting, useful or both, as always, reviews, thumbs up’s likes, shares high fives, fist bumps are also very much appreciated, they help me out loads.

But until next time, take it easy and I hope to chat again really soon!

All the best


Planning meals

Sustainability, Diets and what diet should you follow

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