There are proponents for every type of diet and nutrition strategy whether the primary goal is getting as lean as possible or simply improving overall health. But we really need to bring an end to all of the diet confusion.
For starters, read this list and see how many of these diet strategies you have heard of:
- low fat
- low carb
- high animal protein consumption
- nutrient timing
- eat only natural, unprocessed foods
- intermittent fasting
- removing entire foods and food groups from the diet: examples – not eating fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, grains, beans and legumes, nuts, or oil (I have read literature supporting all of these)
- information claiming that you will gain body fat if you eat fat and carbs in the same meal
- eating for your blood type
- eating only raw foods
- information claiming that you will gain body fat if you eat simple carbohydrates at any other time besides post workout
- information that suggests you must eat 5-6 or more small meals throughout the day if you want to lose body fat
How many of those methods and tips have you heard of? And please keep in mind that is a very short list.
I have read literature and websites that tell people not to eat fruit. Websites and information telling people not to eat potatoes. People advising others to never eat grains. People saying you cannot get lean or healthy with a moderate to high carbohydrate diet.
Here are yet more examples of various nutrition strategies for building muscle and losing body fat:
- Don’t eat fat before strength training
- Don’t eat carbohydrates before strength training
- Don’t eat protein before strength training
I have read literature promoting all of those statements. There are literally people arguing nutrition strategies from every side imaginable.
It is no wonder people are more confused and frustrated more than ever.
ENOUGH ALREADY! Adopting a healthy lifestyle should make your life less stressful and more fulfilling and rewarding.
Following these crazy strict rules definitely does not do that.
So . . . What is the Right Answer?
I’m not going to say I have the “right” answer or the “holy grail” for better health and better body composition. However, I do have some strong principles that have not only proven to be effective in real world experiences, but are also upheld by legitimate research. If your main concerns are losing some excess body fat and improving your overall health, then these principles are a great start. And best of all, they are simple.
Look, if you’re primary goal is to be lean and healthy, then you don’t need strict rules that you must follow every day. Unless you are stepping onstage soon for a figure or bodybuilding competition, you can achieve awesome results with simple guidelines that are stress free.
Note – don’t stress out about following these guidelines for every meal for the rest of your life. I do believe in the 90% rule – if you follow these guidelines 90% of the time, you will still get great results. Also, feel free to tweak these guidelines according to what you prefer and what fits your life.
Eat real food – yes, I always recommend this, and this one will never change. The fact of the matter is that you fuel your body much better when you eat real food. Long story short – real food is better for you. Period.
Be a smart consumer – know where your food comes from, especially meat products. Most people just buy meat at the store and don’t think twice about it. Truth is, you’re not getting high quality meat from Wal-Mart; it’s factory farmed, hormone filled meat that isn’t near as nutritious as grass fed, farm raised animals. If you’re going to eat meat, make sure you know where it comes from.
Eat when you’re hungry – I’m amazed at how many people no longer know what hunger feels like. Westerners are programmed to think they have to eat at set times during the day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) or as of most recently, people think they have to eat multiple meals each day. This tip isn’t popular, but I have found that it helps a lot of people when they learn to listen to their body.
Forget about all of the set rules about meal frequency and all of that– eat when you’re hungry. If that means you don’t eat your first meal of the day until 10 am or later, so be it.
Don’t eat unless you are hungry — while this one should be a no brainer, we tend to eat whenever something is offered to us or if food is lying around. It’s not uncommon for us to eat dinner, feel satisfied, and then eat dessert simply because “it’s there” or it’s offered to us.
We need to listen to our bodies and eat when we’re hungry and not eat when we’re not.
I know some of these nutrition tips are different, but they are simple to apply and are stress free.
However, there are exceptions to every rule
While I recommend you eat things in their natural state, i.e. real food (per the first guideline listed above), there are other items you may consume frequently that don’t fit this rule. For example – Ezekiel bread. It’s the only bread I eat but you can’t walk outside and find it lying around. Technically it’s processed food, but it’s a much better alternative to white bread and even traditional wheat bread.
The Main Lesson Here . . .
We need to stop following crazy strict rules and regulations when it comes to food. We need to stop stressing over everything we eat and at every meal. While some people thrive on strict guidelines, I find that is usually the exception, and not the rule.
Find what works for you. Feel free to experiment with different methods and find one that you like. No two people are the same – that is why there is no one method that will work for everyone.
Keep the nutrition guidelines simple and basic, and then go from there. Stop overthinking everything. If you spend too much time each day thinking about what you’re going to eat and when, or if you find you are stressed out when it comes to food, then it’s time for a change.
It’s time to put an end to diet confusion, and adopt something simple that you can do for a lifetime.