Nutrition is the most important part of any fitness or sports performance goal. Without eating right, you’ll never make optimal progress. Why waste all those long hours of effort spent in the gym, only to get poor results? For many people it’s because they don’t understand what to eat, when to eat it, and how food affects their bodies. I’m going to address all of these basic issues, plus discuss supplementation, in my 5 part series “Nutrition 101”. Stay tuned, and each week I’ll post a new installment in the series. To follow the whole series and read older posts, become a member today.
Part 1- Whole and Natural Foods
A lot of the food we eat today is poison. Livestock is grown bigger using artificial hormones and fed unnatural diets, often made from plant and animal waste. Crops are grown in chemically enhanced fertilizers and covered in toxic pesticides. Even worse, the shelves of our grocery stores are filled with food products that do not exist at all in nature (think twinkies, oreo’s, etc.).
So what is a health conscious person to do? How can we know what is safe and healthy to eat? It’s actually shockingly simple. Avoid all processed and man-made foods. If people did not have access to this food 2,000 years ago, maybe you shouldn’t eat it. Eat food that occurs naturally. This means meat/fish, fruits, vegetables, and naturally occurring starches (potatoes etc…). In today’s world, lots of foods fall into a grey area, and it’s difficult to avoid all man-made foods 100%. I’ll discuss that more at the end of this article.
We’ve established that meat/fish, fruits, vegetables, and naturally occurring starches are whole natural foods. They occur in nature, and have been around for 1,000,000’s of years. So, eating a variety of fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables is a good start. Then, you need to consume these foods as close to their natural states as possible. What does that mean? Let’s dig into an example. In nature, a chicken would eat a natural diet. Then, a predator (or you) would consume that chicken whole and raw. End of story.
Now, to contrast, here is an example of what actually happens- Buffalo wings. 1) Chickens are raised in a slaughterhouse, pumped full of hormones, and fed using nutritionally poor and artificially produced gunk. 2) Then, we butcher and transport the chicken to a grocery store. 3) This chicken now has to be cooked to prevent the spread of disease. 4) So, we bread the chicken, 5) and we cover it in a sauce made from sugars and preservatives. 6) Finally, we fry the chicken, usually in some kind of oil. That makes 6 steps removed from the meat’s natural state. Catch my drift? Your goal is to remove as many of those steps as possible. Obviously, in the case of chicken, cooking is not a step you can remove today.
So, now you’re eating plenty of cooked meats, produce, and starches. You’re avoiding man made products like cookies, candy, soda, etc. You’re off to a great start. Now let’s address the tricky stuff. How about that bottle of “organic fruit juice”? Let me help you learn what to avoid. You can follow some simple rules here too. Fruit juices that you can buy in the grocery store are usually heated and put through processes that rob them of their nutritional value, leaving you with sugar water- Avoid most pasteurized or homogenized fruit drinks. Avoid all drinks, or any other product, with artificially added sugars (any ingredient that ends in “ose”). Learn to read nutrition labels. If a product has more than 1 or 2 ingredients, try to avoid eating it often. If you can’t pronounce all of the ingredients on the label, or they sound more like science words than food, try to avoid eating or drinking that product.
A few things to avoid like the plague:
- Corn syrup
- Artificial sweeteners
- Bleached white flower
- Added sugars
- Artificial flavors or colors
- Any ingredient you can’t pronounce
- Fast food restaurants
A couple of simple practices to eat more naturally
- Generally if it flew, grew, ran, or swam you can eat it
- When possible buy organic meats and produce
- Learn to read nutrition labels
- Only eat foods people had access to 2,000 years ago.
Members: Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Nutrition 101: Part 2- When and Why Should I Eat?