The world of nutrition is interesting. While there are always new trends and fads coming out every week, the tried and true principles are often forgotten.
Nutrition in theory isn’t that complicated. However, it has been made complicated with overblown marketing hype, and trends that hold zero scientific or real world scrutiny. And as with most things, it’s in the application or where the “rubber hits the road” where the challenge lies for most of us.
Over many years, I have coached hundreds of people on their nutrition. When you coach this many people, you start to see trends and predictable patterns emerge.
You start to see where people have challenges, and where common faults arise.
Here are 4 common Nutrition mistakes to avoid if you want to lose weight, maintain a healthy bodyweight, and feel great.
It’s amazing the amount of people that I have coached that actually under-eat.
This is more prevalent among female clients, but I have seen it with the guys too.
The bottom line is, you need to eat to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy body weight. And you need to eat more than you think.
The best way to figure out how many calories to eat, is to take your bodyweight and multiple it by 10 if you are a woman, or by 12 if you are a guy.
Sure, you could plug a bunch of numbers into an equation and figure it out, but who has time for that?
Doing this simple shortcut will get you very close to the ideal numbers of calories for fat loss.
If you go below this number, you are likely under eating and will have adverse affects on your metabolism, thyroid output, and results. Over the long term, your body will view this as starvation, and store additional calories as fat.
And keep in mind, these are clean and healthy calories. For most people eating this many calories of clean foods will be a stretch, and will take time to get used to. But your body will adapt over time, so no need to worry.
Remember, you need to eat to lose. It sounds counter intuitive, but I have seen so many people plateau because they aren’t eating enough calories. They inevitably break through their plateau when we have increased calories.
A good starting point is to have your calories follow 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30 % fat.
2. Cutting Carbs Too Low
Sure, some people may need to lower their carb intake for health reasons or because they don’t tolerate them well.
But you still need carbs to function. Carbs play a critical role in supporting your metabolism, ensuring your thyroid hormones are at an optimal level, maintaining muscle, and so you have the energy you need for working out.
Carbs are like gasoline for your car. And we all know what happens if you are running on empty!
Cutting carbs too low is also unsustainable, and can result in future weight gain down the road.
Just like cutting calories, if you cut carbs too low, and then start re introducing them into your diet, your body will be like a sponge and “soak up” all of those extra carbs and begin storing them as fat.
Have you ever met someone who did a low carb diet for a long time? Odds are they gained all of their weight back, plus more.
Lastly, carbs give you a feeling of satiety or fullness, which is critically important if you are already in a calorie deficit and wanting to lose weight. It will ensure you keep full and stay full for a longer period of time.
So stick to at least a moderate level of carbs. 30-50 % of your nutrition intake needs to come from carbs.
3. Thinking You Need A Customized Approach
While certain people may need a customized plan for medical reasons, or for food intolerances and allergies, customized meal plans are overrated.
As human beings, our nutritional needs vary little if any from person to person in the grand scheme of things.
We all need clean carbs, proteins, and fats. We all need as much variety in with our food as possible. We all need lots of water. And we all need to keep our processed food intake in check but also take the time to enjoy our favourite foods. And that’s pretty much it. Simple and effective.
This, of course, assumes you want to maintain or lose weight, and live a long and healthy life
Other than that, everything else that has been marketed and hyped and is just over-complicating the process.
Whether it be eating right for your blood type, eating according to your DNA sequence (like, really?), eating right for your body type, or anything else. This is just unnecessary for the majority of people, and a bit silly.
The only thing that may need some customization is your calories (based on your bodyweight and goals, and your height if want to get real specific), and maybe altering your carb/protein/fat ratio a little.
But other than that, that’s it! Keep it simple. And most important, start implementing it right away.
4. Thinking You Can “Wing it”
In this day and age, time is limited. We all have things vying for our time, and healthy eating is no different.
But “winging” it won’t work, that much I do know.
Yes, healthy eating requires preparation. Yes, healthy eating is more time consuming and costly. And yes, healthy eating can be a pain in the ass and inconvenient when we are already time starved.
But there are ways you can manage this challenge, and work around the time crunch. Our clients who see the most success with losing weight and sticking to their nutrition long term, incorporate at least one of these strategies below.
This is probably the best and easiest tip for overcoming the time crunch.
When you are cooking lunch or dinner, make extra food for the next day. You are cooking already, so you may as well make the best use of your time and make as much food as you can.
And that way, you won’t be grabbing fast food or going to your favourite restaurant on your lunch break.
Designating 1-2 days a week for meal preparation can be a big asset in overcoming the time crunch. While this does require more discipline and time out of your week, it makes a huge difference in staying on track with your nutrition over the long term.
Clients that have implemented this strategy have had a lot of success with staying on track with their eating, and are actually more organized with their day to day life (a residual benefit of course).
While I don’t promote eating out all of the time, not only from a cost but also a health standpoint, there is a time and a place for it.
Eating out can save you enormous amounts of time preparing and cooking food, especially if you work long hours.
Restaurants are being much more innovative in catering towards our ever growing health conscious society.
Consumers are more educated than ever on nutrition, and the benefits of a healthy diet. So restaurants have had to adapt to this need, and start offering healthier options on their menus. McDonald’s is even in the process of revamping their entire menu to include more healthy offerings! Has hell frozen over? Haha joking aside eating out at a restaurant or a market can really help with staying on track nutrition wise.
Here are some things to consider when eating out
– Skip the sauce. Most sauces are calorie laden and have lots of sugar and fat
– Skip the dressing. Go for a side of olive oil with your salad
– If possible choose brown rice, quinoa, or plain baked potato for your carbs. If these aren’t options do “double veggies” with your protein of choice.
– Find out how the meat is cooked. Pan fried or baked is ideal
– Watch “candied” nuts and/or dried fruit in your salads. These add lots of calories and sugar. If so, get them to remove these. And yes, you can keep the cheese on your salad J.
– Skip the bread and dessert.
– For breakfast, stick with oatmeal and fruit, boiled or fried eggs, omelettes with lots of veggies and minimal cheese, sides of fruit, and whole wheat or whole grain toast if possible.
– Stick with fish, salmon, boneless skinless chicken, and lean cuts of beef for protein sources.
Some great local options include Community Foods, Sunterra, Cravings Market, and the Main Dish.
Restaurants like Earls, Moxies, Boston Pizza, and the Keg have great options as well for salads and healthier meals.
Eating out at a restaurant may not be perfect or ideal, but if you are in a time pinch and you can choose a healthy option, it’s better than many other alternatives out there.
Well there you have it!
4 common Nutrition mistakes we see most often, and tips for avoiding them.
Always here to inspire and motivate you,
David Macdonald and the Vitality Fitness Team!