“Plan your meals ahead”— Expert Nutritionist Gives Their Insight on Diet Trends

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Today we’re talking about one of the most discussed topics in sports – nutrition. There’s always something happening in that area – different diet trends come and go, but people remain wondering about what their diet should actually look like.

With that in mind, we wanted to help so we contacted one of the most famous nutritionists in Serbia – Tijana Mladenovic. Tijana specializes in advanced sports nutrition and she was eager to share with me everything she knows about this topic. And today, I’m sharing it with you in this interview.

Why nutrition is your game changer

Your diet should be your fuel, your repair kit, and your performance enhancer all rolled into one. A diet that’s well thought out and packed with the right nutrients can significantly boost your performance. It’s about hitting the right balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

As Tijana says, many people believe that being hungry or sticking to extreme diets is actually beneficial for your fitness journey.

“This is a very dangerous myth as it can lead to energy and nutrient deficiency, which further can affect your performance and overall health.”

She emphasizes that education is the key. Athletes and fitness trainers have to be informed about proper diet and its principles to be able to differentiate valid information from myths. An expert can help you gather valuable knowledge and make your personalized nutrition plans.

Commit to training sessions, and proper nutrition, learn about micro and macronutrients, and go for a walk with your family. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.Stefan Djordjevic adds on this topic in our recently published interview.

 

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A post shared by Tijana Mladenović (@ltm.fitt)

What should an athlete’s diet consist of?

1. Carbohydrates

Your go-to fuel! Carbs are non-negotiable for athletes. They fuel your training and help with recovery. According to Tijana: “Wholegrain bread, cereals, pasta, and rice should be your staples.” – And for those intense training sessions?

High-carbohydrate foods can boost your glycogen stores, keeping you going stronger for longer. – she stated.

“Before your workout session, you should focus on consuming foods rich in complex carbohydrates like cereals, fruits, and vegetables, which will enable sufficient energy for your training”, says Tijana.

2. Protein

Muscles love protein, this nutrient is crucial for muscle repair and growth. After you’ve pushed yourself in your sport, protein comes in to repair the damage and build your muscles back stronger. The amount you need depends on how much and how hard you’re training.

“My favorite protein sources are chicken, turkey, fish, and plant proteins like peas, chickpeas and soybeans. These foods are the cornerstone of my diet”, adds Tijana.

Vegan protein sources

For all of you who are on a vegan diet, Tijana suggests combining plant sources like soybeans, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, and whole grains. She adds that you should pay attention to taking in essential nutrients like iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and omega-3 acids.

3. Fats

Often vilified, fats are actually essential for athletes. They’re a dense energy source and play a vital role in hormone production. Just focus on the good fats.

“When it comes to fats, I choose healthy sources like avocado, nuts and their butter, olive oil, and fatty fish. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and monosaturated fats, which are good for our heart and muscle recovery”, says Tijana.

4. Vitamins and minerals

These are crucial for energy production, oxygen delivery, bone health, and immunity. A varied diet usually covers your bases here.

 

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A post shared by Tijana Mladenović (@ltm.fitt)

How to tailor your nutrition plan

Your diet needs to reflect your sport, your goals, and even your daily schedule.

According to Tijana, you need to analyze your physiological characteristics and goals to be able to adapt your nutrition plan to your needs. Different sports require different macronutrients and calorie intake. It’s important to consider these to achieve optimal results.

For example, those involved in endurance sports like running or cycling, often need more carbohydrates to keep their energy levels during the extended hours of being active.
Those who do strength training, like weightlifting, might need more protein for muscle growth and recovery.

It’s all about personalization. Consider what you like to eat, what you don’t, and how your body responds to different foods during training and recovery.

The results of Tijana Mladenovic’s clients before and after her nutrition program.

What if someone is allergic to certain foods?

“If someone has allergies or food intolerance, I use a detailed analysis to identify the problematic groceries”, says Tijana. “Then I adapt the nutrition by avoiding those allergens and replace them with alternative foods to ensure we’re compensating for the missing nutrients”.

Post-exercise nutrition

Tijana emphasizes the importance of recovering glycogen in your muscles and their recovery after your workout session. That’s why your post-workout meal should combine protein and carbohydrates.

What about hydration?

We can’t talk about nutrition without talking about hydration. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. How much you need can depend on the intensity of the exercise, the environment, and your sweat rate.

“To remain at the peak of your performance, plan your water intake according to your individual needs, continuous fluid intake during your workout, adequate electrolyte compensation, and paying attention to the signs of dehydration,” suggests Tijana.

Tijana Mladenovic recipe for meal salad after workout
Tijana Mladenovic recipe for meal salad after workout

Supplements – use with caution!

While a well-planned diet should cover all your nutritional bases, there are cases where supplements might be helpful. However, tread carefully. Use supplements under professional guidance, especially if you suspect your diet is lacking or if you have specific deficiencies.

And finally, how do you stay consistent?

We’ve all struggled with staying on track. There’s a point where it seems that nothing is happening – you eat clean, you exercise but there’s no change. The first thing that comes to your mind? It’s worthless, let’s just give up. Well, you shouldn’t.

Tijana recommends making realistic goals and sticking to your regimen. In other words – discipline!

Plan your meals ahead to avoid temptations and keep healthy habits“, advises Tijana.

She also talks about the importance of dealing with stress in a proper way to avoid emotional binge eating. Seek support from your family and friends to remain consistent and motivated.

 

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A post shared by Tijana Mladenović (@ltm.fitt)

To wrap things up…

As you could have seen, it is crucial that you fuel your body accordingly, depending on the type of physical activity you’re engaging in. So be careful and don’t be afraid to seek further help if you’re not sure where to start.

It was a pleasure talking with Tijana and I want to thank her for such an eye-opening experience that will definitely affect my diet from now on.

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