If there’s one consistent message or controlling idea in everything I do and say as a coach, it’s this:
The majority of the benefits from any training you do will always come from the development and mastery of the basics and fundamentals.
This is something I’ve learned after nearly 40 years as an athlete, coach, and, well, experimenter and thinker. In other words, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and have a lot of experience. 😊
It’s not only true for our movement and strength work, it’s true for nutrition.
So many look to complex ideas, to try and understand what they should eat, and when. I say when in doubt, come back to some basics and fundamentals.
For example…in no particular order:
- There’s no such thing as a “bad” food, there are only less than optimal eating “habits.”
- Whenever you think about completely eliminating a certain type of food (like red meat) from your diet, think about how long humans have been consuming what you might be eliminating. And then ask if the thing you’re eliminating is really the root cause of your problem. It may not be, and eliminating it might create a much bigger problem.
- Calorie restriction NEVER works for long term sustainable fat loss. What does? In my experience, one thing that can help is time-restricted eating. And it only makes sense: give yourself a window of time, such as 11 am to 6 pm for example, to get in all of the calories you need, and you accomplish two important things: 1. You normalize insulin levels (a hugely positive thing to do) by having a longer period of time during the day when you aren't eating, and 2. You inevitably consume less total calories throughout the day without making calorie restriction your goal.
- Extremes in dieting or nutrition, NEVER work long term, ever. Going keto or the opposite, high-carb, takes you down a path where the pendulum will inevitably swing to an extreme. The right answer is to balance carbs, protein, and fat, based on your activity levels/training hours, and body composition and competitive goals. Hint: no one will ever train at a high intensity consistently and successfully on a fat only diet. Conversely, rarely will anyone ever get as lean as they hope on a pure carb diet.
- Junk food is, well... junk. And there’s a lot of truth to the saying, junk in-junk out. That’s not rocket science. It does, however, require you to be somewhat honest with yourself. 😊 You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
- The biggest hurdle for people wanting to get leaner is hunger, plain and simple. The minute you start to limit calories, hunger kicks in. Here’s a fact for your consumption: If you’re eating junk and/or processed foods any more than very occasionally, you're going to have problems - among other things, your cravings will increase (because junk foods are all high in processed sugar). If you’re going to get leaner AND be healthier, you need to be able to recognize the difference between a craving and actual hunger. Hint: a craving will go away after a short while. Hunger will tend to linger. Learn to know the difference. Ignore one, pay attention to the other.
- One more thing on time-restricted eating (a term I much prefer over intermittent fasting by the way): in my opinion, the “secrets” that many people ought to be seeking for good health, a lean body, AND extending not only our lifespan but especially our healthspan, surround the hormone insulin. The more sensitive you are to it, the better things will be. The less sensitive, e.g. resistant you are to it (resulting in more of it needing to be secreted), the worse things will be. What increases sensitivity? 1) Exercise. 2) Training or exercising in a fasted state. 3) A low amount of glucose (sugar) floating around in the bloodstream. #2 is why I have always trained in a fasted state. And why I’ve always recommended a 3-hour window between a meal and an exercise session. #3 is accomplished very nicely with time-restricted eating.
- If you believe any of the myths out there about the supposed dangers of training fasted, remember a basic and fundamental tenet of science-based exercise physiology: Your body stores ~2000 calories of glycogen (plus or minus depending upon training status and body size). That stored glycogen is almost always your body’s preferred source of energy whenever you begin a training or exercise session. That’s enough calories to get you through ~20 miles before you hit the “wall.” And that’s assuming you aren’t burning any fat at the same time (which is unlikely). (In other words, run away from anyone, regardless of the letters after their name, who tell you training "fasted" isn't good for you or worse, is dangerous).
- Think about every specialized diet you've heard of and really consider whether or not it makes sense to you from a "common sense" perspective. For example, protein only? Lettuce only? Blood type? Zero carb? I mean, come on. Most of the fad diets out there sound absolutely ridiculous to anyone with a brain. Think! There's no secret sauce that can make something wonderful happen to your body overnight. There ARE daily habits, which are sometimes hard to break. 😊 And cravings. (I talked about those already).
I could go on, but I'll stop there for now because I know you have your day to get to! 😊
You see, it’s always going to come back to the basics and fundamentals.
Are there other important details worth knowing? Sure, you can definitely get deeper into nutrition science, talking micro-nutrients and other cool stuff. The point is, what I've shared with you here are the basics - they'll get you most of the way to where you want to go if you apply them consistently.
These ideas aren't trendy, gimmicky, or faddish. They're science-based and time-tested and they make sense. Following them over a period of time will absolutely help you have more energy throughout the day, and you'll sleep better, age more gracefully, and get leaner too. I guarantee it.
It’s why the controlling idea I started this with above, permeates everything I do, as well as how I live. And it's also why so many folks have seen incredible success with our work together.
To your success,