Some things never go out of fashion: blue jeans, Corvettes, and Pokemon. But for some reason, people try to make nutrition out to be a never-ending crap storm of “must do’s/don’ts.”Don’t eat fat, don’t eat carbs, salt will kill you, sugar will bring Cthulhu from the watery depths to rule the world.” Whatever happened to the notion that simple is better? Why bother to eat the expensive organic, GMO free, local foods that cost an arm and a leg when you’re trying to build them up and lose the belly instead? Well, today I want to give you all an idea of what the foundation of a good nutrition plan looks like. Even if it isn’t the scariest scenario or the sexiest diet around.
It’s No Secret
Since I’m not a dietitian, I don’t provide specific meal plans. That being said, by now, everyone by knows that what you eat effects not only your overall health, but also your training results. This is why simple guidelines are the best advice any coach or trainer can legally give. On top of that, anyone who says there is an “absolute” nutrition recommendation is suggesting that his or her plan is the “only way of doing things.” Which, of course, is craziness and is probably worth dismissing. The only “absolute” worth noting is that you need to be in a consistent calorie deficit in order to drop body fat, plain and simple. So, don’t get all bent out of shape when someone says you shouldn’t eat a specific food because of some ingredient or chemical it has.
Here is a beautiful way to sum it all up in 3 easy steps.
1. Eat mostly meals consisting of fruits and vegetables and high-quality meats, eggs, and fish (or protein substitutes, for vegetarians and vegans).
2. Limit your intake of refined foods, simple sugars, hydrogenated oil, and alcohol.
3. And don’t overeat.
Is your mind blown?!?!?! Yes, these are the same recommendations that have been given to us for years. And yet, how many of us follow them? What’s the point of starting a new diet or taking a fist-full of supplements if you haven’t tried to lay a solid foundation? You should start by focusing on the quality of the foods you eat (emphasizing fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins). You’ll likely end up taking in fewer calories without even counting them. Before we move on to the next section, we are going to get into the three soft “don’ts.”
Don’t crash diet. When you create massive caloric deficits, there can be issues with metabolic slowdown. But even worse is the hormonal response that causes appetite to run amok, and you end up gaining back all the weight you lost, and then some.
Don’t drink a doughnut. I don’t mean this literally, but what I’m trying to say is limit the calories you drink. This, of course, means cutting back on the booze, sodas, and the ever-so-ridiculous trend of putting fat in your coffee.
Avoid added sugar, fat and salt. The most important word here is ADDED. Cut back on the extras, and your waist line will show some love.
Instead of Subtracting, Add
When you focus on bringing the good stuff in, the bad stuff finds its own way out. For the most part, this statement is true. So here are a few things that you should consider adding:
1. A regular meal pattern – Three decent sized meals each day will decrease the need for preparation and keep you feeling full.
2. The grocery store – Eating out should be a rare treat. This is because each meal you don’t make yourself is almost guaranteed to be a bucket full of unneeded calories.
3. Veg out – Eat your vegetables. Not slathered with butter or covered up with cheese, but with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
4. Protein power – Protein will help you feel full and increase your metabolism (1). Don’t over estimate this because it can be a downfall. Like everything else, moderation is needed.
5. The dinner table – When you eat every meal at the dinner table, you create a psychological environment that lends itself to healthier eating. No one eats a bag of chips at the table, I hope.
One Thing Leads To The Next
When you create one good habit, another is sure to follow. This domino effect can be profound over time. Choose a healthier eating style that’s realistic for you to stick with, and gradually implement it by making small changes in your eating behaviors and turning them into positive habits before changing other eating behaviors. Of course there are loads of other ways to create the caloric deficit needed to create fat loss. Here is a great reference for those ready for the next steps. But for now, keep it simple and build upon your good habits.
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1. Acheson, K. J., Blondel-Lubrano, A., Oguey-Araymon, S., Beaumont, M., Emady-Azar, S., Ammon-Zufferey, C.. . Bovetto, L. (2011). Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(3), 525-534. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.005850