The Perfect Diet
The quest for the latest and best diet to offer fast and effective weight-loss results is never ending and while there are many nutrition frameworks that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals, this variety can sometimes be a problem. Each one promises results and inevitably when we don’t see immediate results using one approach, we jump ship and try another.
Let’s have a look at the basic principles of some of the more valid and well-researched options.
The Paleo Diet
The paleo approach to eating is based on scientific research (not just reverting to how our ancestors ate) and encourages a diet full of nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory whole foods including good quality meats, a variety of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. It generally excludes common dietary irritants such as gluten, dairy, grains and legumes and of course, sugar.
The Zone diet was developed by Dr Barry Sears as a solution to diet-induced inflammation and is also well-researched. While no foods are specifically excluded, Zone principles require a focus on the proportion and quantity of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) you are consuming to maintain an optimal protein to carbohydrate ratio for improved hormone control and balance.
Macros or Flexible Dieting
Flexible dieting or Macros calculates your macronutrient quantities based on your total daily energy expenditure and how much weight you want to lose. Like the name implies, this approach is flexible and doesn’t restrict any foods provided they fit your macronutrient requirements.
A ketogenic diet consists of very low-carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat foods and is well researched as a possible treatment option for type 2 diabetes and for improving health markers associated with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, insulin resistance cholesterol profile and blood sugar levels). In the absence of blood glucose, which is usually supplied by carbohydrates and excess protein, the body burns ketones for energy, which are produced in the liver from fat stores.
Intermittent fasting is an approach that cycles between periods of fasting and eating and can be more accurately described as an eating pattern since the focus here is on when you eat and not necessarily what you eat.
So which approach works the best? In terms of physiology, you are indeed a unique and special snowflake and what works for your gym buddy won’t necessarily produce the same results for you. So experiment and find the approach that works best for you and understand that it isn’t going to be a quick fix.
Once you have this figured out, the secret is CONSISTENCY.
Consistency is the secret to the perfect diet. The consistent and long-term application of a sustainable nutrition framework that works for YOU. Consistent training that you enjoy and consistently making an effort to manage the other variables that impact on your health like stress, sleep, family and friends and environment.
Consistent doesn’t mean perfect. Just consistently good enough for most of the time
There has been a trend across the industries, since forever, to reintroduce past approaches. The automotive industry has the modern classic–old aesthetics with modern technology. Clothing manufacturers are always bringing their old lines back. Architecture finds a way of holding on to both antique and modern elements.
Old school is cool, yeah? Aside from the sentiment there’s a lot of marketing behind it. That’s partly how existing customers are retained while attracting young blood. Old school also works, which is why there is a growing trend in the food industry to push ingredients and recipes that were found to be beneficial centuries ago. It’s a trend I’m picking to be the big new food/health/wellness trend of the year.
It’s because old school works, and now science is able to evaluate why certain ingredients were so prominent in diets from particular regions. However, it’s not changing the message. The message is still to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and minimal sugar; keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat; use herbs and spices to flavour.
And that’s what you should be doing most of the time. Do not fall into the trap of purchasing products that contain these ingredients. Yes, turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory spice that’s been used by populations of the subcontinent in their cooking for decades. But you don’t need a pill that contains turmeric. How about you find ways to cook with it?
Food and supplements are BIG industries and that means they’re in it to make money. Fair enough. Your nutrition, however, doesn’t rely on what most big food industries are peddling. You’ve just got to eat real food, the way your ancestors did. Do what your great grandmother did!
You’re fired up! It’s the start of the new year, you either beginning a new health and fitness journey or carrying on from last year, and you have goals. Your momentum is high, so you’re dialing in your nutrition and getting stuck into training. You’re doing everything you need to, all of the time.
That might not be the best approach.
You certainly need to work towards your goals, but perfection is impossible. Balance, however, is sustainable. What I’ve experienced over the years, in both nutrition and training, is that almost everyone who goes “strict” all the time, even if just for specific periods, ends up going the opposite way. And that usually happens at the end of their set period or after some sort of event–birthdays, holidays, parties, etc.
Whereas those who find a healthy balance of good food and treats experience ongoing results, and are generally happier.
It’s kind of a kid-in-candy-store analogy. A kid who has never been exposed to all those amazing colours and smells is likely to lose their sh*t in a candy store. But a kid who has had some exposure to candy over time is more likely to know what they want and don’t want, find it, and if the parents are smart enough they’ll be out of there!
If you try to keep it strict all of the time, you’re probably going to lose your sh*t like that first kid.
In my opinion, it’s a simple approach. Eat good food (veges, a variety of meats, nuts and seeds, some fruit and starch, a bit of dairy) MOST of the time, and go for less healthy foods (processed foods, takeaways) and sugary treats SOME of the time.
This is striving for sustainable. Excellence is sustainable.
This will be the final active week for the blog this year. The holiday period will be a good time for me to put down new content ideas and for you to to think of topics you’d like me to write about. If you’d like some reading to do on your down time, look to the right sidebar of this page and search the blog using the tags. There are 98 posts with the ‘nutrition’ tag! Sure, some of them will be repeats, but there’s a ton of information there.
New Years is still a few days away, but that’s why NOW is a good time to talk about getting started. Sure, you’re going on holiday and that’s a great time to indulge in food and drink. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat and drink everything including the kitchen sink. Changing your mindset is the first step to changing your health and fitness, and you don’t need to wait to get started to change your mindset. You just need to start.
I’ll get going on Monday.
I’ll start when winter is over.
I’m waiting for my friend to start with me.
I need to start that new job first.
Okay, I’ll start tomorrow.
No, you’re just full of excuses and bullsh*t.
Those are just a few of the familiar phrases people say when it comes to making changes that are needed to improve their health and fitness. Not the last phrase, though. That’s me calling them out 😉
Are you one of those people waiting for that perfect time, when all the conditions are just right, to make changes to your nutrition for the better of your health and fitness? Well, that time is either now or never. That sort of all-or-nothing approach (to anything) typically gets us nothing. If you want to make a difference to your health and fitness, truly want to, then the only time to start is now. Here are a few tips to get you out of that stuck feeling.
Change Your Mindset
That’s the first step. There will never be the perfect time to start. I’m not trying to be morbid, but you could be dead before that time comes. So get going on those changes now.
It’s often difficult to get going because you genuinely don’t know what changes to make. Book in for a nutrition consult, sign up for the next lifestyle challenge, and get yourself some books. Support, however, also comes from those you spend most of your time with – friends, family and work colleagues. Tell them about your goals and what you’re going to do to achieve them. Tell them when the going gets tough and share your successes with them because they’ll keep your fire burning.
If they don’t support you or belittle your goals and achievements, delete them.
Just Get Going
You are able to start right now, while reading this post. You don’t have to go to the supermarket before changing your mindset, you just need to change it. Write down your new intentions and post them to places you won’t miss them. They shouldn’t be grand goals and massive schemes, though. Think of the smallest change you could make in the next 10 minutes. Aim to be just 1% better everyday.
Make it a Priority
YOU have to make YOUR health and fitness a priority. IF it is a priority, good nutrition becomes a priority by default. IF nutrition is a priority, making the time to buy, prepare and eat healthy food won’t be a problem. Look at your schedule and find the time.
You are going to have challenges, but what matters is that you’ve started. It’s much easier to prevent a stopped train from moving forward than it is to stop a travelling train 😉-Imtiaz
Posts tagged with ‘nutrition’