If you want to be able to skate as long as possible, eat quality foods and fuel your body with the nutrients in fruits, veggies and quality protein sources.
– Nick Dompierre
whole foods, skateboarding & 3 food hacks you need to know!
So the definition of “food” is “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth”. But based on that definition maybe a lot of the ultra-processed stuff we put in our faces these days shouldn’t actually be categorised as food...
In this video article we'll be covering whole foods and processed foods, why if you want to skate as good as you could you need to go for primarily whole and minimally processed foods, and finally 3 nutrition hacks to help you easily add more foods that will power your skating into your diet.
real food vs processed food?
Thousands of years ago pigeons fought against humanity for ownership of the world. It was neck and neck for many years, but what allowed humans to really dominate was their mastery of processing food. Humans became masters of food processing, making it last longer, cheaper and a lot of the times just straight up tastier, but it turned out to not be an entirely positive discovery...
An absolute foundation of any British diet - at least when I was growing up - was this ultra processed ham known as “Billy Bear ham”. I’m pretty sure at age 13, 25% of my body weight consisted of this little bear’s flesh; he was me and I was he, as he made his way into my school lunch box almost every day. But considering diets high in processed meats are linked to a load of diseases, if we put Billy back in the lab and put him up against that definition of food, can we really say he's “maintaining life”?
Like I mentioned in the video article on carbohydrates, heavily processed and refined foods often have a lot of the other beneficial micronutrients that power your skating and health stripped away from them. Nutrients like vitamin B3 and iron enhance energy production when you're out skating, sodium and potassium are essential for your cells to function, and although many foods have vitamins and minerals added to them, many dont, and the nutrients in food aren't just found in these vitamins and minerals...
There are literally 1000s of extra banging nutrients found in whole foods that benefit your skating and health, for example different phytonutrients prevent damage from heavy sessions and enhance recovery. Phytonutrients are nutrients from plants, myconutrients from fungi and zoonutrients from animals. The more processed a food is, the higher the chances that these nutrients are lacking and what you're eating is just an empty shell of energy - probably with many "anti-health" nutrients added to it.
Many nutrients also often need other nutrients to help them digest and a lot of the time whole foods have these exact nutrients packaged right there within them and in the right amounts. It’s gunna sound crazy, but it's almost as if we evolved to eat food straight from the Earth!?
This is also one of the reasons why certain supplements - that just give you a blast of one nutrient - can actually have a negative effect in comparison to that same nutrient found in whole foods. Unless you’re told by some healthcare pro to take certain supplements, try to always go for real food over supplements.
Each person will have slightly different micronutrient needs depending on many different things from gender to how hard you skate, but aiming to eat a wide variety of all types of whole foods and minimally processed foods should give you what you need, and if you feel like you’re on top of your diet and still not feeling on point, you can always hit up a nutritionist.
what are whole foods?!
So on the one side of the spectrum you’ve got heavily processed and refined foods, and on the other, you’ve got whole foods and minimally processed foods. But what exactly is a whole food?
Whole foods are just foods that are as close as possible to how they’re found in nature; they often look exactly as you’d find them on the tree. Things like fruit and vegetables, nuts, eggs and fresh fish are all examples of whole foods.
They usually have “low to no” ingredient list, they often go mouldy quickly, and in general take less steps to get to your plate, even though these days we ship food all over the world before it actually gets to our plate, but the point is that the processing steps are low.
On the other hand, processed foods often look nothing like how you’d find them in nature, they have long ingredient lists, they take ages to go mouldy due to the additives that keep them “fresh”, pretty sure if I stored old mate Billy under my sofa, he'd still be perfectly edible in about 3 years.
try to eat primarily whole foods and minimally proessed foods.
In reality, most of the foods we eat these days are processed to some degree - rice and beans are dried, fish is gutted and cleaned, and a lot of the food we eat is cooked, which in many cases can actually help the micronutrients become more accessible and easily digestible.
So it's not about categorising processed as bad and unprocessed as good. Unless you plan on eating nothing but twigs in the forest, you're going to struggle to eat strictly unprocessed. Instead focus on “whole foods and minimally processed foods” and make changes based on where you're currently at, which leads us onto the 3 nutrition hacks!
the 3 hacks.
1. think of your diet on a continuum.
First off, think of how you eat on a continuum from better to worse relative to where you’re personally at - "better" being more whole foods and minimally processed foods, and "worse" being more heavily processed foods. Then ask yourself how can you make it just a little bit better relative to where you’re currently at?
Don’t try and aim for a perfect diet or change your whole diet at once; we all know how those huge life changing plans turn out - 2 weeks later you’re doing the exact same shit you were doing before.
Instead, think about what you can actually stick to consistently. Make the change as small as it has to be for you to be 90% sure that you’ll be able commit to it. This might be so small that it feels stupid, like a willy in the cold, but at the end of the day if you can’t stick to it, then you won’t even be moving that tiny bit forward.
For example, if you eat KFC everyday going raw vegan probably isn’t going to be sustainable. Maybe instead try hitting up a restaurant that doesn’t deep fry everything once a week.
Maybe you’ll go for brown rice over white once a week.
Maybe you’ll add some healthy fats like nuts to your breakfast or maybe some berries.
Maybe you'll add 1 new vegetable to your lunch.
These might seem like insignificant changes, but other time they'll add up and you'll be making collab cooking videos with Neen Williams before you know it!
2. start reading food labels.
These days people try to scam us at every opportunity they're given, and the food industry is one of the worst offenders.
Not only do they lure children to their shitty, sugary cereals with strangely happy cartoon aniamls, they also go hard with their descriptive words and phrases like "100% natural" "green" "all healthy" which have no regulations around them and essentially mean nothing and are only there to trick you into buying their products. In reality many should read "total bullshit" and I'm not even sure how this is still legal.
Others are things like “gluten-free”, “sugar free”, “low fat”, etc. all of these give the impression that they’re in some way beneficial, but a lot of the time it's just marketing, and those ingredients have been replaced with other shit that’s arguably just as bad.
You might pick up some “all natural” blueberry jam and think “I'm killing the game, I’m eating a highly nutritious food!", but then you check the label and the first ingredient is sugar or high fructose corn syrup (The ingredients are listed in order of quantity in the food by the way), and you realise it's not as healthy as it seemed. I think a solid rule to follow is the more the pacakge is screaming at you with its health claims, bright colours, or freakish animals, the more you should avoid it. Go for a quiet humble plum instead from the produce section.
Remember like I said earlier, usually the more processed a food, the longer its list of ingredients, and checking those labels will also help you scout out those long ingredient lists and extra added shit that won't do your skating and health any good.
3. set up your environment for success.
Having an environment that supports your goals is essential if you want to make your life easier. If your environment is full of the food you want to stop eating, and it’s easily accessible, there’s more chance you’ll eat it. Get a pack of biscuits, put it on your desk next to you and see how many you eat. Next day, put a pack in the cupboard and see how many you eat. No doubt, you'll eat much less if it's out of reach in the cupboard.
Although willpower and pushing yourself through some discomfort (like choosing a healthier food over an easier option) is essential to make change, setting up your environment to support your goals will just make it so much easier to stay consistent.
Check out carb, protein and fat video articles for some ideas of foods you can try, make a note of some stuff you’d like to try and then just go shopping. Stock up your cupboards with the foods you want to try (or maybe leave it on your desk instead!) and set up your environment to support you.
Setting up your environment for success also includes your skate environment, and I think this is one where many of us drop off as we're often out on full day missions and the only options we have available are fast food or junk from the supermarket.
To combat this, you could stock up on some fruits, nuts & other dried fruits when you go shopping and have some healthier snacks prepared to just chuck in your bag. You could also prepare a full meal to take along on your session. I'll often cook double the night before if I know I'm going on a full-day mission, or whip up a quick meal in the morning like the legendary "Sweet Potato Tofu Schmibbler".
Also pay attention to other situations/environments you end up eating worse in, and figure out how you can retune them so you can make better options easier. Always eat chips on the way home from work? Prepare some fruit and nuts instead. Simple shit, but effective shit!
Basically, you're just making it easier for you to make the choices you want to make.