Far and above, nutrition is the most importance aspect to your health. Sure things such as workouts, sleep, walking, movement, etc. are helpful but when it all comes down to it, nutrition is number one.
The problem is, nutrition is overlooked, overcomplicated, and difficult to follow. You often hear people say:
- “I workout everyday but have not lost any weight.”
- “I have been working really hard to put on muscle but haven’t gained an ounce.”
- “I run 5 miles a day (something I do NOT recommend) and am not any more fit than I was 6 months ago.”
The excuses are of wide range, and many times the answer is very much the same: nutrition. You can be doing all the right things in your workouts, sleeping, and life but if you are eating junk food all day you will never get the results you are looking for.
So what is the one thing, above all else, you must change if you want to change your health and get fit? Your nutrition, simple as that.
Mark Sisson, the creator of ‘The Primal Blueprint‘, knows everything there is to know about healthy eating. I love Mark because of his simplified approach and the fact that he knows humans are not perfect. In his book and on his website, he always refers to his ’80/20 rule’, stating: “If you’re eating fully Primal 80% of the time, the other 20% offers room for well-intentioned but practical choices when we can’t be Primal or choose not to be for a variety of personal reasons.”
Essentially what Mark is saying, is that if we eat real food 80% of the time you will be healthy and see results. He gives you a full 20% to eat as you please.
Now the 80/20 rule does not give you free reign to go on a food rampage because it is during a “20% meal.”
The rule is there to give you an outline and a stress free way of eating healthy. Everyone has cravings, and that is OK! Mess ups happen, so don’t stress about it.
Tim’s nutrition approach is one that is strict for 6 days (eating all real foods), then allows for a full day of cheat meals. And yes, cheat days can and should include anything and everything from donuts to pizza to ice cream…
There has been tons of research behind this way of eating in that it will help you burn fat (and lots of it) even though you have a full cheat day each week.
When you look at what Tim is doing, he basically took the 80/20 rule and put the “20%” into one day with no restriction. The main difference between the two, are on the ‘Cheat Day’ plan you can go crazy for one day each week. On the 80/20 rule, you instead have cheat meals throughout the week.
Another great author, Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution), describes his nutrition approach as the “ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic!” Paleo (as with Primal), is eating how our ancestors ate while avoiding the processed, man made foods of today’s world (90% of the grocery store!).
There are many different nutrition approaches out there, but the ones that work come back to the same basic rule: EAT REAL FOOD!
That is what it all comes down too.
Sure, the nutrition plans vary some by adding in a few different foods but for the most part you are eating food that has been around for thousands of years.
Foods that are designed to keep you lean, strong, healthy, and energized. Foods that will burn fat and aid in lean muscle growth. Foods that will energize you and not suck the life out of you. Foods that our bodies are supposed to consume and not foods that are made by man with preservatives and artificial ingredients.
If you want to change your health, it all starts with the foods that you put into your body. As I have said before, you can workout for an hour a day but if the other 23 hours are spent eating junk food, you will not see the results you are hoping for.
There is a reason that 80-90% of the results you see come from nutrition. The majority of your day is spent eating while only a fraction of your day (if any) is spent working out.
When you hear people complain, “I go to the gym everyday for an hour and I can’t lose weight.” The root of the problem is ALWAYS nutrition.
Getting serious about changing your health does not start with going to the gym more or working out longer or working out harder. Sure, those things will help but if you don’t change what you are putting into your body then you will stay right where you currently are.
Now please do not think this means you must drastically cut calories in order to lose weight or get fit. Not at all. When you eat the right foods, and eat when you are hungry and until you are satisfied, incredible results will follow.
One of the biggest nutrition mistakes is one of counting and restricting calories. Not only is it a hassle, but it will hurt your results.
Food is fuel for your body, energy to get you through the day. If you are restricting calories and not eating enough, your body is going to start storing the calories you eat as fat so it has backup energy.
Feeding your body the right foods, and doing it when you are hungry and until you are satisfied is like giving your car the best fuel to run on. You will have long lasting energy, will feel better, and will naturally burn fat and build lean muscle.
Nutrition does not need to be overcomplicated. It should be a simple and stress free part of your day that helps you feel great doing the things you do. For starters, here is a guide on what to eat the majority of the time (remember the 80/20 rule!) to get and stay healthy:
Things to eat:
- Vegetables: Any and all
- Meat and Poultry: Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, wild game, …
- Fish: Salmon, tuna, walleye, halibut, …
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, …
- Healthy Fats: Avocado, grass fed butter, coconut oil, coconut milk, …
- Fruit: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, …
- Spices and Herbs: Black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ginger, …
- Carbs: Sweet potatoes, beans, potatoes. (Depending on activity level. See HERE)
Things to Avoid (the majority of the time)
- Grains: cereals, breads, pastas, …
- Processed foods and sugar: sodas, bakes goods, candy, chips, crackers, …
In Moderation (depending on activity level)
- Beans and Legumes
- Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
- Rice and Oats (more for adding size!)
(Note: The more active you are the more of the above foods you need.)
When it comes down to it, eating the foods above are going to bring you the results you are looking for. It doesn’t matter if you choose to do the 80/20 rule or the cheat day, as long as you choose one or the other.
Before closing, I would like to offer you three simple rules to follow when it comes to your nutrition that will help speed up results and make it stress free:
- Eat when you are hungry and until you are satisfied. There is no need to restrict or count calories when you eating the right foods.
- Remember that health and fitness should not run your life, it should simply be part of it. Mistakes happen and you will fall off track at time. Don’t let one mistake ruin your day or week. Forget about it and move on. If you have a piece of cake at the office, you shouldn’t feel the need to workout for an extra hour that day. It is all about balance and enjoying life. That is why the 80/20 rule works so well. If you were having a piece of cake at the office everyday, that is when you may need to reevaluate your nutrition plan.
- Enjoy the foods you eat and the energy they bring. Get creative with the kinds of food you cook and eat. Eating healthy is far from boring and bland. Some of the most flavorful foods are the foods that are the best for you.
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