Nutrition 101 - Start Here
Written by Mike Jones
We know that you take your health seriously, that's why you're a member of a gym that you train at regularly and you train hard. We also know you're the kind of person that puts effort in to make positive changes if you know they will be beneficial to the health of you and your family. That's why we need to talk about food.
What you eat is just as, if not more important to your health, the way you look and the way you feel as your physical activity. It's a fact of life that you can't out-train a bad diet. If you are training with us at least three/four times a week then you can be as confident as we are that you're training enough and well enough to be healthy. When you combine the quality and quantity of exercise that you are doing with good nutrition the list of rewards becomes never ending. From a coaching perspective, in those that eat well we see improved performance, mood, energy, focus along with decreased body fat to mention very few. You're also much more likely to train consistently, for the rest of your life, when you are getting the results you deserve for the work you put in at the gym. Poor nutrition hinders those results and often results in 'giving up' on trying the healthier lifestyle.
So, what do we need to do and why do so many of us struggle? We're going to be producing regular content on nutrition, but before we get into it we'd like to make sure we're all on the same page about what we need to know. There are four main points that we focus on and that you should understand to make a positive change in nutritional health.
We're the most overweight nation in Western Europe. 27% of our population is clinically obese, another 36% are overweight... why?. Why in the UK (and the world) do we struggle so much with diet? Firstly, it's not our fault. Secondly, I'm going to sum it up with three simple points:
Cheap 'food' makes a hell of a lot of money (think in the billion regions) but makes us really unhealthy. Because it makes so much money, it has a whole industry making it and pushing it. It's in our faces and we're constantly told to consume it. Cheap 'food' is 'scientifically engineered' to trigger hormone reactions in our bodies that make us want more at the same time as suppressing hormones that tell us we're full. This results in us wanting and eating too much of the bad stuff and usually feeling guilty about it after. We're also so bombarded with rubbish food that people are losing track of what's healthy and what's not. A lot of food companies are very 'creative' with their branding and labelling of products and able to make us believe that really unhealthy products are healthy.
If we don't take some time to understand the 'food industry' and what it is, we're not going to be in a very good position to avoid it's traps... there's a lot of traps.
Us humans are really good at complicating things, we also want to be really good at whatever we're doing. So when we decide to sort out our nutrition it often looks something like 'I'm going to get a customised meal plan, I'm going to join a club and track every calorie that I eat, I'm going to get an app that tracks exactly how much I should be eating and at what times'.
Most of us have been there at some point. Eating well isn't a complicated task, we don't need measuring spoons and weighing scales, or even books. We need to eat real home cooked food and understand that it is our fuel. Meat (or a protein supplement) and vegetables, nuts and seed, some fruit little starch and no sugar. Eat as natural wholesome foods, eat as many greens and vegetables as you can stomach and don't drink calories. Three meals a day is more than enough for the majority of the population and a good breakfast is a part of that.
The process of improving our eating habits may not be an easy one for all of us, but the fundamentals of what you should and shouldn't be eating really are quite simple and usually obvious.
Where we want to be, is in a place where we understand our nutrition and how it affects our bodies. We want to have a positive relationship with food and drink, we want to be in control and not worrying or feeling guilty about eating a cookie. Without having some knowledge in the area of nutrition, we're never quite sure if we're doing things right or wrong, we're slightly in the dark and reliant on other peoples thoughts and opinions. We can end up not being sure what we should and shouldn't be eating, and often feel resentful to ourselves and our food.
I don't want you to get a PhD in Nutrition. I want you to learn what you need to learn to be in control, I want you to have enough knowledge to battle the crap that's pushed in front of you by big companies.
For that we need to learn the following three simple things and not in too much depth:
Again through our blog we'll enlighten you on these points and it won't be difficult. Get a grip on these three points and you'll have enough knowledge about nutrition for the rest of your life.
This point is important. MOST of us do not require a diet plan, or not yet anyway. We ask for or seek diet plans because it's a quick easy thing to do (from our own position) and it makes us feel like we're achieving straight away. However, if my weekend consists of a two bottles of wine, a few beers and a take away or two.... I don't need a diet plan. I need to think about my bad habits, accept the impact that they have on my body and think about how to go about changing them. This doesn't necessarily have to be alcohol, it can be a packet of crips every day, a can of coke every day, chocolate bars, binge eating etc etc. If you know, you have a bad nutritional habit or habits and you're asking for a meal plan, you're missing the point. Changing bad habits/addictions is hard, probably the hardest thing about nutrition. Accepting and confronting bad habits is however, a huge, positive step towards lifelong change. Ignoring our habits and asking for a meal plan, counting calories or going on a diet is more often than not, more damaging than good.
We're going to provide ongoing content on the subject of nutrition with the focus of helping you get healthier, happier, fitter and stronger. This will be tailored to you from the problems we recognise and requests we receive. Learning can be hard. We can't do the matrix stuff and plug the nutrition knowledge into your brain, and you really do need to learn about nutrition, so we're going to do all we can to make that process as easy and enjoyable as possible. We'll only provide you with solid, researched and backed content totally geared towards your health and performance.
About the Author: Mike is a CrossFit LV2 Instructor and Gym Owner. He is passionate about health and believes that the key to being healthy and happy is helping others do the same. He loves CrossFit because he believes it is the answer to a lot of modern life's health problems. Mike is influenced by asian culture and philosophy, particularly Buddhism. When Mike isn't coaching at or developing his gym he's working with businesses, schools and communities spreading a love for everything exercise, nutrition and mindfulness.