Hatty Bates |

Get smart with your nutrition!

Hatty Bates looks at how you can support your training with a realistic nutrition strategy in 2022

The first few weeks of the year are always a great time to set achievable and appropriate goals, as well as focusing on small changes in behaviour which are easy to maintain. Read on to explore how you can use the “SMART” acronym to set health and nutrition goals in 2022.

1 – Specific

We may want to start the new year wanting to be “healthier” or “fitter” and to “improve rowing performance”. Although both these goals are great to strive towards, they are broad and could encompass many different elements. Try and think about what you really want to achieve this year. As an example, specific nutrition goals to help improve rowing performance could include the likes of:

  • Having a carbohydrate-rich meal prior to training sessions such as porridge or a jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn. Appropriate fuelling prior to training will help you be able to train at the appropriate intensity for the duration of the session.
  • Consuming a protein-based snack within an hour of finishing a weight session to support muscle adaptions and recovery. Great examples include Greek yoghurt or milk. Doing this consistently could help improve strength and therefore the ability to generate power when rowing.
  • Including more fruit and vegetables in your diet. This could lead to less frequent bouts of illness, therefore helping you train more consistently and reducing the likelihood of missing training sessions due to feeling ill.

All of these are routes to help improve rowing performance as well as being healthier.

2 – Measurable

Can you track your goals? Being able to measure your achievements and progress is important especially on those days when motivation may be a little low. As an example, if your goal is to cook more meals from scratch, consider taking photos of your meals. Being able to compare what you cooked on the first day of your culinary journey, compared to a few weeks of even months later can feel really rewarding. Similarly, if you want to become stronger, recording what you lift in each session is important to ensure that you are continually building on this to reach your goal.  

3 – Attainable

New Year’s resolutions should be challenging but not impossible to achieve. It is easy to get swept up in the excitement and the promise of new beginnings. However, when it comes to setting goals, it is important that they are achievable for you. For example, do you always have time to cook food from scratch or would it be better to aim to do this at least four nights per week?

If your aim is to drink at least 2 litres of water per day, do you have a water bottle that you can carry around with you? If not, it may be harder to achieve your goal. In summary, it is important to consider whether you have the skills, tools and time needed to achieve your goals now or are there some skills you need to develop first before starting.

4 – Realistic and relevant

Is your goal realistic and relevant to you? When setting goals, try to think of something that really motivates you, but at the same time make sure they are realistic too. For example, if your goal is to put on 5kg of muscle mass then understanding the steps to achieve this goal could help to decide if this goal is realistic. Are you able to consume a total of ~2g of protein per kilogram of body mass (~2g/kg) per day? Can you consume high-protein meals and snacks containing 20-40g of protein regularly throughout the day (every 3-4 hours)? If so, then a goal of putting on muscle mass may be achievable.

5 – Timely

What is the timeframe for you achieving your goal? Accountability is important when it comes to achieving our goals and setting start dates and deadlines can help with this. As well as long-term goals, think about short term-goals too. For example, a long-term goal could be “I want to achieve a 2k personal best”. To achieve this, being able to train consistently is important, therefore a short-term goal may be “I will complete 90% of training sessions for the next two months by fuelling and recovering well”.


Having big goals is important and using the anagram “SMART” can help set and plan your goals appropriately to keep you feeling motivated throughout 2022. Good luck!

Photo: Drew Smith