Riverside Sports expert insight: All you need to know to improve your diet

Personal trainer Alex Avery shares his tips for reaching your fitness goals, and reveals how much difference a change to your diet can really make.


Hoping to improve your fitness, diet or both? You’re in good hands, as SoGlos gets some expert advice from personal trainer and duty manager Alex Avery.

Supplying clients at Riverside Sports with full diet and exercise plans, the team at Riverside really are experts in helping get visitors to its sports and leisure facilities, back on the right track.

Many people feel intimidated by gyms, and don’t know where to start. What’s your advice for them?

It’s really common for people to be a bit nervous about joining a gym, but no matter what your level of experience, no one really knows it all. I think when people are in really good shape, new starters can look at them and assume they know everything, but it’s not always the case! Regardless of your level of knowledge though, it’s always good to have a few sessions with a trainer who can point you in the right direction when it comes to nutrition and make sure that you’re training properly for your goal.

One of the biggest issues we find is that people don’t prioritise their nutrition. Changing your diet is 70 to 80 per cent of your goal if you’re looking to get leaner, so if you’re not eating the right foods, you’ll really struggle to shift any weight. That’s where trainers can come in. We don’t just tell you how to work out, there’s all the nutritional support as well.

What’s the first step when you meet a new client?

The first thing I get them to do is to fill in a consultation form, so we can find out exactly what they want to achieve. We don’t have to get someone training every single day to get results, as long as you’re doing some form of activity, that’s better than nothing.

In fact, there’s actually evidence now from the Journal of Public Health that suggests that one hour of activity can counteract the effects of eight hours of inactivity, so people can make a big difference by making small changes.

Is changing someone’s nutritional habits hard to do?

I start them off making small, sustainable changes rather than taking leaps and bounds. Eventually, the small changes will all add up to make a big difference.
Things like drinking more water and cutting down excess calories from alcohol, fizzy drinks and teas and coffees are great.

It’s not essential to eat breakfast, lots of people forget and don’t find time, but portion control is the important thing, and not eating too late in the day can help.

What I usually suggest to clients that are trying to get leaner or build up muscle, is to try and make every meal protein-dominant. This means that as you go to the gym to lift some weights and do some cardio, the combination of adding in that protein results in your lean muscle building up, which in turn improves your metabolism and speeds up fat loss. This method means it’s not a fad diet, and it’s sustainable.

What snacks would you recommend for people both pre- and post-workout?

Pre-workout I’d recommend something with protein and maybe some carbohydrates about one or two hours before you work out. Just a snack though, not a huge meal – that’ll give you the fuel you need to train. Things like protein yoghurts that are low in fats and sugar are great for this.

After a workout, avoid a big meal, but do have something that includes some protein and carbohydrate to refuel the body. By providing carbs, your body uses the protein to grow and repair the muscle, but if you starve yourself of carbs, you’ll find the body will take the protein away as energy, leaving nothing to help muscle growth. Things like fruit and porridge are great examples.

What changes can people make at home to complement their weight loss plan and gym schedule?

The key is making simple meals that you enjoy. People who love eating out and having burgers could swap a greasy burger for a homemade version. You can cut calories using low fat mince or Quorn, cutting off the fat from the bacon, using wholemeal bread where possible, adding salad and not going too heavy on the dressing.

Other things could be swapping from margarine to an organic butter, having fewer rounds of toast in the morning, and swapping from smooth to crunchy peanut butter. Turkey bacon is also something that’s lower in fat and is a good alternative.

How can people stay motivated?

Remember the reason you started, and that each workout counts! Even if you struggle one day, or feel like you didn’t do as well, remember that end goal! You’ll never finish a workout and say: ‘I really regret that workout today, I wish I didn’t bother!’

And finally, what’s the one piece of advice you’d offer to someone trying to improve their diet?

Track your food. Try the app MyFitnessPal as it’s very good at helping to keep you accountable for your choices and helps you to make much better ones. Only you can make that change, so don’t ‘wait until Monday’, start today and make changes in your life for the better.

For more information visit riversidesports.co.uk directly.

More from Food & Drink