A Simple Guide to Nutrition

“You can’t out-train a bad diet” – whilst this isn’t’ entirely true, see Michael Phelps, for most people it is pretty accurate. Unless you’re slogging away training for over 6 hours a day and burning thousands of calories, you will need to be conscious of what you eat if you have body composition goals (ie lose bodyfat, gain muscle etc).

Understanding good nutrition is extremely simple in itself. It becomes very complicated when you introduce humans and emotions into the equation. We are self-sabotaging, pleasure-seeking, short-term thinkers. Everyone has most of the knowledge to be successful with their nutrition but they don’t have the tools to put that knowledge to use. That’s what we teach through our nutrition coaching at Defy.

The first thing you should do is forget about the word ‘diet’. Generally, this has the notion that it will be for a set period of time. We have run successful nutrition challenges which hold the same problem. Going on a 6 week diet or participating in a 30day nutrition challenge is great, but it’s usually seen as a short-term thing where people make great progress and then reward themselves with a pizza at the end of it. Two or three days later and the good work is often undone. Good nutrition is a lifestyle and it doesn’t mean you have to be a social recluse (although the last year would have been good for that) and it doesn’t mean you can’t “enjoy” life if you believe you need a glass of wine to do that.

Once you understand that good nutrition is a lifestyle choice, you then need to think long-term. If you’re in your 40’s and you’re carrying more body fat than you would like, you need to think about how long it took to gain that weight. You didn’t wake up one day with an extra 20lbs. It likely happened over many years of having less than ideal nutritional habits and it will take time to rectify that. Changing your body composition the right way (slowly and over time) will yield better long-term results.

When you decide to start making better nutritional choices you need to take care of your environment. If your house is full of candy, cakes and alcohol, it will be much harder to resist temptations. Your willpower will always give in at some point. It’s common for people to tell me they snack on the kids’ treats. Have a look at better treat options. Kids don’t need candy and chips to be happy. Your environment also includes the people you spend time with. It’s very difficult to be successful if your partner wants to drink beer and eat wings every other night especially if that’s what you’re used to. Friends will often feel threatened if one person in the group is trying to make a change. Taking care of this and understanding how people will react will prepare you for it.

Next, you want to start building habits that allow you to be successful. We have lots of examples taught in our nutrition programs. Most people think of a “meal plan” when they think about working with a coach on their nutrition. It easy for me to say “eat 150g chicken, half of a sweet potato and a side of veggies” but is that realistic for you and your family? Is that flexible? Does that allow you to be successful when you go to a friend’s house for dinner or to an all-inclusive resort? I’d say not at all. Our goals are only as good as our habits and systems. If we don’t have a system to follow that can be applied to any situation, we will default to our normal choices.

Keto, paleo, low card – high fat, carnivore…I’m sure you’ve heard of these and many more. I often get people telling me about how this particular ‘diet’ is the best thing ever and how everyone should be doing it. At my local coffee shop, I’ve been stopped a couple of times by the same man over the last few years. He started the carnivore diet, which is basically fatty cuts of meat, eggs, cheese and heavy cream. He has lost a lot of weight and is very proud, as he should be. I don’t believe the carnivore diet is what has helped him lose weight on its own. It is more likely that that diet has stopped him from eating processed cards, sugar and other low quality foods that are rich in the North American diet. The idea of the carnivore diet has given him a set of guidelines that keep his food higher quality (although quite limited) and away from crappy foods. It’s also pretty difficult to overeat portions of steak compared to chips or fries.

You don’t need to belong to any one camp. Some people love counting macros and some people love being paleo. What you need to do is be consistent with whatever you decide. ‘Dry January’ is very popular but it doesn’t really achieve anything. You may lose 5-10lbs if you usually drink often but on Feb 1st you’ll start back up again and end up worse off. Changing your mindset around nutrition, dealing with stress in other ways and not using food or drink as rewards, will help you be successful long term.

Your habits have gotten you to the point you’re at now, nothing will change until those habits change. If you need accountability to make those changes then we can help – Book a Zoom Nutrition Call.

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