A Simpler Approach to Nutrition

When someone says they want to change their diet, it can lead them down an endless rabbit hole of information.


Try Googling “how to lose weight” or “how to lose body fat”. You’ll feel as overwhelmed and stressed as when Google tells you that small rash on your hand could lead to *insert disease of choice.*


The point here is that there are a thousand ways to go about nutrition and what the most effective way to reach your goal is. The other challenge with food is that it’s constantly present. While training can be complex as well, it really only makes up maybe 2-5 hours of your 168-hour week.


The thing about food is…you could eat it ANYTIME.


Now we could go in-depth on how to count macronutrients (fats, carbs, and proteins) and what percentage of each you should have, along with how many calories. And there’s some value in that. But most of us aren’t willing to fit that into our lifestyle and rightfully so. It can be a hassle, and often leads to a shaky relationship with food.


Below is a fairly simple way to approach categorizing food and can give a broad framework of what to eat. Now the downside to a broad approach is that it relies heavily on the user being honest with themselves about portions and being intuitive with their hunger cues.


Before you eat something, particularly snacking, ask yourself…”Am I really in the mood for this, or am I just reaching for it because it sounds good?”


If the answer is that you’re actually craving those Doritos, then go to TOWN. If you were reaching for it because you wanted something to do during your weekly All-Hands Zoom meeting, well then, don’t go to town. Stay at home.



Let’s break food down into 3 simple categories.


NUTRIENT DENSE, CALORICALLY LIGHT


This group consists of the foods that are typically deemed as “healthy” and will be featured in a lot of meal plans/diets.


These include your:


  • Lean proteins (chicken breast, white fish, greek yogurt, protein powder)

  • Fruits & Veggies

  • Whole grains

  • Air

  • Beans/Legumes



NUTRIENT DENSE, CALORICALLY DENSE


This group consists of the foods that are typically deemed as “healthy” as well but are higher in calories.


These include your:


  • Fattier proteins (chicken thigh, red meat, salmon, eggs)

  • Nuts/Seeds

  • Avocado/Olive Oil

  • Full fat dairy



NUTRIENT LIGHT, CALORICALLY DENSE


The REAL GOOD stuff!!!


These include your:


  • Cake, cookies, pastries

  • Pizza

  • Chips

  • Fried food

  • Taco Bell

  • We could go on for awhile

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We’ve established these different groups, now what? This is going to seem fairly simple and not at all revolutionary advice.


If 80-85% of what you eat is a nice mix of the first two categories, then enjoy the other 15-20% being in the last category. That’s it.


Try to avoid labeling foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. Yes of course it’s unhealthy to have a pint of ice cream every day. But it’s also unhealthy in a lot of other ways to eat nothing but tilapia and green beans.


Everyone knows the importance of balance, but remember that with that comes a responsibility to be honest if you are actually in balance.