The 5 Nutrition Habits Cheat Sheet

“Which is more important for fat loss, diet or exercise?”

When it comes to optimal health, I believe that exercise and nutrition are equally important factors of the same question. And while I cannot take you through a workout via the written word, thanks to Precision Nutrition’s habit-based coaching model I can give you a ‘cheat sheet’ to help you navigate your nutrition questions.

Whether you are new to eating well (and may ask questions like, “What’s a protein?”), have a basic understanding of nutrition but need guidance (“I eat pretty well”), or someone who eats the right foods in the right amounts at the right times (“Check out my macronutrient breakdown spreadsheet!”), the principles within the Precision Nutrition 5 Habits Cheat Sheet will serve as a resource you can come back to at any time.

With the following cheat sheet, answer any question you have relating to nutrition according to these 5 Habits.

Eat Slowly And Stop At 80% Full

Many of us are eating far too quickly, or are distracted with television, smart phones or a rushed lunch break at work. This habit doesn’t really have much to do with what someone eats; Rather, it has to do with how someone eats.

Are you eating slowly? Check in with hunger, sit down, relax and take your time; 15-20 minutes for a meal is about right. Make sure you stop eating when you’re about 80% full.

By slowing down our eating and stopping at 80% fullness, you will also benefit from enhanced appetite cues for the next meal, improved digestion, better performance with exercise, more time to enjoy meals and better sleep if you’re eating before bed.

Eat Protein Dense Foods With Each Meal

Some experts will have you believe that additional protein is somehow harmful or unnecessary. The research however is pretty clear: in healthy individuals, a higher protein diet is completely safe. Not only is it safe, it may actually be important for achieving optimal health, body composition and performance.

Where is the protein dense food? Are you about to eat at least one palm-sized portion of protein dense food? Women get one palm-sized portion and men get two palm-sized portions.

By following this habit, you will not only ensure an adequate intake of protein, you will also stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass and recovery, and reduce your body fat.

Eat Vegetables With Each Meal

Remember how much your parents and grandparents harped on about eating your vegetables? Turns out they were right.

Where are the veggies? Are you about to eat a large portion of vegetables? They can be prepared any way you like. One serving is about one fist-sized portion and you should try to eat a few portions per meal.

By developing this habit of eating vegetables at each meal, you will be much more likely to get your full ten servings of cancer-fighting, free-radical-destroying, acid-neutralising and micronutrient-rich power per day. Hard to argue with Grandma about eating your vegetables now, isn’t it?

For Fat Loss, Eat A Majority Of Other Carbohydrates After Exercise

Another way of saying this is: If you’ve got fat to lose, you need to earn your carbohydrates by exercising first. If you enjoy your rice, breads, pastas, sugary foods and the like, you can eat them as long as you do two things:

  1. Focus on more unprocessed varieties;
  2. Save most of them until after exercise.

Let me be clear: I am not advocating a low-carbohydrate diet. Rather, it’s a controlled-carbohydrate diet. If you’re interested in fat loss, getting most of your carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits with a small amount of starchy sources post-exercise is a smart habit to develop.

Where are the carbs? If you have fat to lose but haven’t just worked out, eat less pasta, bread, rice, and other starchy carbs. Opt for a double serving of veggies instead. If you have just worked out, a mix of carb sources is fine.

Eat Healthy Fats Daily

Anywhere between 20-40% of the diet should consist of dietary fat. And no, fat won’t make you gain weight; excess food consumption will do that. Ensuring a healthy distribution of dietary fat will optimise your health, body composition and performance.

More important than total fat intake is the balance between saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Where are your fats coming from? Today you need some fats from various foods, prioritising whole food sources like eggs, meats, fish, olives, nuts and seeds. Spread these throughout the day.

Don’t be intimidated by getting the ratios spot-on immediately. Focus on adding monounsaturated (think extra virgin olive oil, some nuts, avocados) and polyunsaturated (some nuts, some vegetable oils, fish oil supplements ) fats to the diet. By adding these to a diet of fruits and veggies, ‘earned’ carbohydrates and lean proteins, your dietary fat intake should balance right out.

A basic familiarisation of nutritional education is vital if you want to feel good, look great and perform at your best. Developing strategies around proper nutritional intake does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. If you can learn and follow these simple habits, it will naturally lead to an improvement in calorie control, food selection and nutrient timing.


  1. Great! Like your blog

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