Nutrition is a huge part of getting in the best shape of your life and building the body you want.
You can train as hard or as often as you want, but if you don’t have the diet to back that up and support your body, you won’t get the results you want.
Working with Ultimate Performance on my 12-week body transformation has taught me just how important the right diet and nutrition really is to help me achieve my goals – it’s the difference between a good body and a great body.
So many people are asking me what my diet is like and what I’m eating to get in this kind of shape…and it’s actually very simple.
Before I started with UP, my diet was pretty clean – but at weekends I was a bit more lenient, so I’d have a pizza, a chippy tea or go out with the girls and have a few drinks. There was no consistency to my diet really.
The one huge thing that has changed is just the portion sizes – it really has made a world of difference to my figure.
Learning portion control has been a massive thing for me. I used to hate leaving food, but now if I’m full, I’ll stop eating.
My snacks now aren’t as calorific either. I used to eat a lot of protein bars which isn’t too bad if you’re desperate and need that fix, but I would sometimes have two a day thinking it wouldn’t be a problem.
I’d also snack on things like almonds and dark chocolate which aren’t bad in moderation. But I didn’t realise how calorific they were.
I used to have a coffee every day but I’d always have a slice of banana bread with it thinking ‘oh it’s only a little piece of banana bread, it’ll be fine’ but it all adds up! So you just have to be wary of what time you eat and how much you eat.
Eat as clean as possible and just realise you don’t need all of the food you thought you did need. The human body is so, so clever and it’s more mentally that you feel like you need more food than you really do.
When you have a meal, you should get your proteins, fats, carbs and that’s it. You don’t need to eat loads every night; I used to have something sweet after every meal. I’d have a square of dark chocolate after lunch and dinner because that’s what I thought you did.
But I also realised I don’t need to starve myself either. There have been days where I’ve been full and I’ve texted my trainer Mark and said ‘I’ve not been able to eat all of my tea tonight, is that okay?’. And he’s like ‘yeah don’t worry, just listen to your body’.
So it’s just about being wise really, eating what you need as opposed to eating what you want.
My daily diet that UP created for me during my transformation has actually been simple to follow and enjoyable…and it has worked.
For breakfast, I have three eggs, I make myself a green juice which is half a cucumber, two celery sticks, ginger, beetroot and I blend it with an avocado to give it some bulk. Sometimes I’ll have some salmon or spinach on the side.
I always like to start the day with protein, fats and fibre. I absolutely love eggs because I love the variety. Some days I’ll have them poached, sometimes scrambled or in an omelette- it’s not a plain boring breakfast! I like to add a bit of black pepper and some fresh chilli too.
Again, the salmon is for my good fats – Omega 3s, it’s good for your skin; it’s great for women.
Avocado is also a great fat to have. Everyone needs a bit of avocado, great for your skin.
It makes you feel good, it gives you energy, it wakes you up and makes you feel like you’ve started the day on a good note.
If you wake up and instantly start the day on sugary cereal and a mound of coffee you’re setting yourself up for a crap day. I think you have to start the day strong and you’re more likely to stick to it for the rest of the day.
That meal I’ll have around 5 am in the morning. Then around 9 am, I’ll have my second breakfast with porridge oats, almond milk and protein powder.
For lunch, I eat white meat, lots of vegetables and sweet potato. I only eat chicken and fish so sometimes I’ll boil my chicken which you can eat hot or cold, sometimes I’ll grill it with fresh chilli and herbs, and a little bit of olive oil.
With my sweet potato, I’ll put some fresh garlic and chillies in it and for my vegetables, I always mix in a little bit of red pesto with it, it’s such a lovely meal.
It sounds boring, chicken, veg and sweet potato but there’s so much you can do with it. Some people say to me ‘that’s a big meal to have for lunch’ but they’re having a sandwich and a packet of crisps, but they don’t realise they’re overfed and under-nourished, but although mine sounds like a big meal, I’ve got everything I need in there nutritionally – plus I’m training so I need to refuel as well.
For dinner, I’ll have white meat and vegetables. I love vegetables! Sometimes I will blend them up and have a chunky soup, lots of black pepper.
My favourite meal on plan is a chilli chicken burger with smashed avocado, fresh chilli and vegetables with sweet potato. It’s a really nice meal to have before bed and it’s very filling.
I keep my food interesting with lots of herbs and spices, olive oil and fresh garlic. Bland food does nothing for me so you’ve just got to mix it up, I like a nice spicy kick!
One thing about my diet is that I still eat carbs! So many people say you shouldn’t eat carbs at all and I just think it’s ridiculous.
Everyone is different and what works for one person, might not work for another.
So I have oats every day and sweet potato every day. I think it’s silly to cut out a whole food group.
The hardest thing I’ve had to give up is bread! I love it! I love toast, I love crumpets, I love bread with my soup, I love croutons in my soup, I love chip butties and I’ve not been able to do it.
I’ve had rye bread when I’ve been struggling but it doesn’t quite have the edge that a crusty piece of tiger bread does.
I’ve struggled when it’s been the time of the month. I crave lots of pizzas and breads, I used to drive to the supermarket and buy a loaf of tiger bread and eat it all in two days just by myself with some Lurpak.
And that was my go-to food, that was what I wanted and what I craved and I haven’t done that this time so it’s just about breaking the habits.
I think you automatically assume, ‘I’m on my period so I need to eat this’ but once you break that habit it’s easy. They say it takes 21 days to stop something, to stop craving it so hopefully I’ve done that.
Initially, I would put too much pressure on myself, which the guys here at UP have been amazing at reminding me what not to do.
I’ve had to realise that it’s a 12-week programme and within those 12 weeks there are going to be cycles that a woman has.
In those 12 weeks there’s going to be three weeks where I’m going to be bloated, puffy-eyed, spotty and feel like crying on the gym floor and stuff. So the mistake I made was not realising that was normal.
It’s just about being realistic with yourself. I didn’t make mistakes with my training, I’d always put 100% into every session, otherwise what’s the point?
But on those weeks when I was on my cycle it was really difficult not to think ‘Oh f**k it! I’m going to get a chippy tea or do this…’. I still had the odd cheat meal or glass of wine with my mates, I’ve had a holiday but I wouldn’t call it a mistake because it was sociable, it was planned in the middle and we adjusted my diet around that anyway.
Food preparation has been key for me on my 12-week transformation – it really helps you stick to the plan because you don’t want to get caught short and just have to grab whatever food is available.
But my biggest tip on nutrition throughout the whole thing is just be consistent, be persistent, be patient with yourself and give your body time to adjust.
People say ‘oh I’ve started eating well and I feel knackered, or I’ve got a headache or I feel crap’. Well, you’re not feeling crap because you’ve started eating good foods, it’s because you’ve stopped eating crap foods and your body is detoxifying. You’ve got to give it chance to respond.
Just give yourself a minimum of two-three weeks and wait for the changes to happen. You’ll wake up one morning and notice that your skin’s getting better, that you have more energy so yeah…just be patient, persistent and consistent.
If you’re inspired by Gemma’s journey and want to start your own body transformation, talk to us about our Personal Training Plans or BOOK A CONSULT NOW!