How to Sift Through a Complicated, Multibillion-Dollar Nutrition Industry
These 9 tips can help you make the right decisions for yourself – or at least, get you started
I am not a nutritionist or a dietician. I’m no expert, but I do have experience; lots of it. I have been in the fitness and health field for over a decade and the one thing that is consistent across all disciplines in this field is that nutrition is the base for all the goals that you want to achieve. The old saying, “you cannot outwork a bad diet” is true for the most part. So as a trainer, coach, athlete and someone who simply cares about getting people results, you cannot overlook the importance of nutrition and its effect on the end state which is achieving goals!
Stop reading this now if you want the “magic pill” or want to be told what to do, when to do it and even more specifically, how. Rule number one of navigating the nutrition industry is run, don’t walk, away from anyone or anything selling the quick fix or the fast track. Nutrition is complex, unique to each person, has sound fundamental principles and is always evolving. That is why the industry can confuse you; it is designed to. Let this list be a simple, liberating toolbox to help and guide you, but ultimately allow you to make the right decision – and an educated one at that.
Here are 9 tips to help you wade through the seemingly endless parade of nutritional information (and misinformation) to make the best decisions for yourself.
1. Define your goals. What do you want and why?
This is essential to allow you to know exactly what you want to achieve and then have the motivation to follow through with your “why”, whether it be weight loss, weight gain, muscle mass, peak performance, maintained health and wellbeing, etc.
2. Do your research on diets that are VERY restrictive. Any time you take away, there can be a downside, and you might not know it. Remember simply NOT eating is not optimal – we want to be healthy and happy in pursuit of our goals. So before embarking on a very limiting regime, do some research and ask for others experience and longevity following that specific regime. Usually the more restrictive it is, the less likely you will be able to follow it consistently and thus not get where you want to be.
3. Don’t spend money on the “diet”, spend money on the FOOD. Most of us need to simply eat better quality foods, in the right amounts. So save your money on NOT spending for advice or a “program” to start and simply start with swapping out ALL processed foods with whole, unprocessed foods (Meats, Fish, Vegetables, Fruit, Etc.)
4. Start small and keep it simple. If there is one thing that we all know should be removed from our diets, it is added sugar. It might be unrealistic to fully remove it from everything you consume. Educate yourself on the different names for sugar, and this will really help you cut it out of things you might not even want it in, and then leave it in the stuff you do. Remember moderation is key to a sustained lifestyle choice, and that is what we are doing with nutrition.
5. It takes TIME. Be patient for any change. The body has to take time to allow it to happen. You might see an initial fast change if you start to do something different than you’re used to, but then it will slow down. Give yourself a month to see any changes. These types of changes are more likely to stick for the long term, which is the goal for most of us.
6. Just because there is “research” and “testimonials” does not mean it will work for you. Remember, we are all different. The way our body works internally differs subtly from person to person. We have to assume that just because it works for them, it might not work for us, and that is okay. This is why we need to be patient and test to see what works, not only from an internal efficacy perspective, but from a psychological and social perspective as well.
7. Try diets that are inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. Make sure you eat a specific number of veggies and fruits daily. Try to have a protein, carbohydrate and a fat (macronutrients) every time you eat. These types of parameters allow you to eat and eat well, but not develop other issues that can come up with extreme restriction.
8. Worry less about micronutrients – these are vitamins and minerals. They have no caloric value for the most part and if you eat a varied source of whole, natural and unprocessed foods, you will get most of what you need. These are what we call the “minors”, so think of it as trying not to major in the minors. They can be important, but they are usually not the key to success, the food you eat is.
9. Finally, remember this: the word “diet” comes from the Greek root word “diaita”, which means “to live one's life”. It also comes from the Latin root word, “diaeta,” meaning a “manner of living”. We want to create a lifestyle, not a flash in the pan - that has always been the aim.