Updated: Jan 26, 2022
Nutrition is a huge and confusing subject. I want to give you some advice and experience I’ve had myself and with others who I have coached. When thinking about nutrition you ultimately need to take responsibility for yourself through advice or your own research to make an informed decision – figure out what’s best for you. By all means use this for a guideline but read more and learn more yourself.
In a nutshell: eat real food (minimally processed) and try to source this food locally. Blue Zones do exactly this, and they live disproportionately to 100 years of age. I don’t like the word “diet” as it carries a bad stigma with it. But here are a few things to consider.
Images taken from BlueZones
Our current ‘diet’ is fairly recent – we’ve been eating this way for only around 10,000 years. For context, most estimates say that humans have been around for a little over 2 million years. Eating real foods focuses us on eating the way we ate before our current diet. Our current diet features a whole host of things that are causing disease that should be part of the natural ageing process. Clearly what we are doing is not working. To go back to eating like we used to, we should be eating fresh fruits and veg, animal proteins (fish, eggs and meat), and nuts in moderation. Using the ’Four Always’ and ‘Four to Avoid’ as a guideline.
Diets and the confusion for which one is the “best”.
You only need to type diet into google and you find website with a heading ’38 diets ranked from best too worst’. Which takes me back to not liking the word diet and that we should be thinking about far much more than our input (food) when being healthy and maybe wanting to lose weight. There are pros and cons to any diet and just because one worked for one person, does not mean it would fit around your lifestyle. And that’s ultimately what we want to do, use a way of managing out input around our lifestyle.
Here are a few strategies, but as I’ve said, make your own decision based on further research you do;
Images taken from GMB
Are Carbs Bad?
Not all carbs are bad but we can definitely define good and useful carbs as carbs that we indulge in because they taste nice. You’ve probably heard of simple and complex carbs? If not, in layman’s terms, simple carbohydrates get turned into sucrose faster (you probably want to avoid these), complex carbohydrates take longer to be digested to sucrose (you’ll want to eat these in moderation).
The quote below from Alan Aragon talks about why carbs are not your enemy.
“Carbohydrates do one thing, provide energy. If you look at the broad outlines of human metabolism, you’d assume they do it pretty well. Your brain uses 20 percent of your daily energy – 500 calories for a guy eating 2500 calories a day. All of it comes from a sugar called glucose. No matter what type of carbohydrate you eat – bananas, fettuccine, gummy frogs – it all turns to glucose during digestion. from there it is the preferred fuel for both mind and muscles.
In fact, glucose is so important to your survival that your body does not trust carbohydrates to provide it. Through a process called gluconeogensis, you can make glucose out of amino acids. It seems to occur even if you have plenty of carbs in your diet.
So, in the most literal sense, carbohydrates don’t matter for short term survival. But they sure as hell matter in all practical ways. They are crucial to athletic performance, especially in endurance events but also, to a lesser extent in sports like soccer and basketball which require a mix of stamina and bursts of speed and power.
The average American mans diet is about 48 percent carbs. Those who are classified as overweight and obese don’t eat a higher percentage than those who are considered “normal” weight. Think about that for a moment. While the heaviest people clearly eat the most food, it doesn’t follow that they eat the highest proportion of carbs. Nor does it follow that cutting carbs is the best weight strategy for everyone. Before we get there, lets clear up some definitional issues.
80/20 Rule or 90/10 Rule
The reason most diets fail, is because they totally restrict ‘bad foods’. Do we want to create a bad relationship with foods? Do we want to restrict ourselves so much that we crack and feast on the things we miss most? Look, there’s certainly a way you can be healthy through your input. We’ve made such a pallet of foods that we can access without much effort that if we do totally restrict ourselves then we will crack and create bad relationships. So let’s eat things we enjoy in moderation through 10 or 20 percent of your overall calories. Don’t become victim to the next fad diet, or any diet for that matter.
Everything in life is a Rubix Cube, we just have to figure out what’s the best way of learning for ourselves.
Aragon, A and Schuler, L. (2014). The Lean Muscle Diet, Rodale Inc. New York USA, P.23-27.