Welcome to the last blog of the series: Nutrition 101!
If you missed any of the blogs in the series or if you’d like to reread them, they are all published on taylorwhisman.com, so you can always go back and read them. Subscribe (on the right if you’re on a computer and at the bottom if you’re on a smartphone) to get notified of new posts and to support the spread of easy-to-digest (pun intended) health information. While this is the end of the series, I will of course continue to publish blog articles on health education and science literacy! Thanks for your continued support.
While we have covered a lot over the last five weeks, we have really only scratched the surface. Nutrition can be as simple or complicated as you would like to make it. If you’ve made it this far in the series, then you already know everything you need to be successful with your nutrition; however, it can be a bit tricky knowing where to start.
The first article covered WHY nutrition is so important and why we should care about it. The second article covered basic principles of metabolism and energy balance. We dived a bit further into energy balance, calories, and macronutrients and how they are interrelated in the third article. Last week’s article covered the basics of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, and why they are necessary to consume in your diet. This week will tie everything together in a practical way so that you can feel confident approaching your nutrition.
My most important lesson for my clients is making sure that your nutrition and eating habits are sustainable long-term! Your eating habits and nutrition should fit your lifestyle. This sounds cliche and repetitive, but it takes a little bit of experimentation. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. There is no single, best diet or way to approach nutrition. However, you still need to keep in mind the science behind everything we have discussed so far. When you use the basics of nutrition science as your foundation, it turns out that you have quite a bit of free reign when it comes to your diet.
I feel like this isn’t talked about enough, and sometimes, nutrition gets portrayed as this complicated beast with many rules and regulations to follow. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. While the interworking biochemistry happening inside of your body when you eat and digest food might be complicated, your eating habits don’t have to be so. I feel obligated to keep educating and communicating with you guys so that you are no longer intimidated by making healthy choices!
You literally cannot lose
You’ve tried diet after diet but nothing works, right? No surprise to me there. Diets do not work. There, I said it. It’s not because the diet is evil or inherently bad or meant to make you feel like crap… even though that is in fact how you feel when you diet… am I wrong? Oftentimes, going on a diet is more of a psychological experiment rather than a good decision for your health. They don’t work because 9 times out of 10, they are not sustainable. They might work for a little while or while you are on them, but you cannot diet for the rest of your life. Where is the middle ground?
Well, if you keep what we have talked about so far in mind, and you constantly keep trying, you cannot lose in the game of nutrition. Eventually, you are bound to find sustainable habits that works for you. It’s not fun to keep using trial and error with your health or constantly yo-yo dieting. Finding an eating routine that is sustainable long-term is key to being successful with your nutrition.
Something very important to consider with nutrition and eating habits is that there is no such thing as instant gratification. You can argue that life success in general never comes from instant gratification, but that’s for a different blog and a different time. It takes time (many months to a year) to fully develop eating habits that really work for you. For some, it might not take this long, but remember that our lives are constantly evolving and changing. With changes, we must adapt and overcome, and our health is something that we should prioritize as our lives change over time.
It’s easy to become impatient with our health after making a change. Health is multifaceted, and it is not just as simple as diet and exercise. Are you particularly stressed out right now? Does that change how and when you might be consuming food? Did the pandemic affect your work-life balance, and now you find that your eating habits are slightly different? Our eating habits are so closely tied to many aspects of our life, without us realizing it. Too many changes at once is overwhelming, and it is so easy for us to fall back into our old habits after changing everything all at once. To develop healthier eating habits, it’s important to make changes slowly, over time, and not overnight. If you are unhappy with your health, it is most likely that you did not become that way overnight, so you will not obtain optimal health or obtain your fitness goals overnight.
Common goals that you can tailor your nutrition for
Eating for health is one thing, which should be at the foundation of your eating routine; however, eating for a specific goal like weight loss or muscle gain is where you need to make some adjustments. Remember what we discussed earlier in the series about energy balance? To lose weight, what do you need? A caloric deficit. You need to be burning more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. If you use this concept as the basis for all of your eating habits, you will indeed lose weight. It’s really not rocket science. However, losing weight and losing fat are two different things. It’s beneficial to manipulate macronutrient amounts when you desire to lose fat but keep muscle, but we don’t have time to cover the details of this! If you’re interested in me doing an article about this in the future, let me know.
To gain muscle, what do you need? A caloric surplus! You’ve probably seen people go on “bulking” diets where they eat everything in sight, including junk food and fast food every day, which get justified by their “bulking” goal. However, there is a better way to do it, in which you don’t just put on weight overall, which includes extra body fat. This also requires manipulating macronutrients, which we don’t have time to discuss. As with weight loss and fat loss, I am more than happy to cover this topic in a separate article.
The takeaway here is that total calories matter, but manipulating macronutrients is how you can obtain physique goals!
Why you aren’t seeing results
“What gets tracked gets improved.” – Peter Drucker
If you read the calories and macronutrients blog, I said you don’t need to track your macros or calories to obtain your goals. However, if you’ve never tracked your caloric intake before, it would benefit you greatly if you monitored it in some way, shape, or form.
Why? Well, as a scientist, it seems obvious to me. You’re recording data, you’re logging trends, you’re monitoring your own behaviors. It’s quite enlightening to record data about your own eating habits. You have to be critical and objective, and when you start recognizing patterns, it becomes easier to understand where you need to improve. If you aren’t seeing results, chances are, you aren’t following your regimen as closely as you thought you were. Monitoring and tracking can help you understand where you might be slacking. Remember to be patient, start slow, and stick with it. You cannot lose.
I realize that I probably started to discuss interesting topics here but then said “I don’t have time.” This is true, and I could probably write a book. This blog series was originally supposed to be an eBook, actually. This might be frustrating to you, but I am always open to expanding on topics. Not only does this help me educate you and my audience, it helps me learn more and grow! If you liked this blog series, stick around and subscribe. I post articles once per week at the maximum, and you’ll be among the first people to read my articles because you get notifications of when I post.
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