What I’m about to tell you isn’t particularly groundbreaking information, but the thing is, most people don’t know it. It’s astounding how we can know so little about something so essential. We do it everyday and how we do it will affect our health, fitness, body, mood, energy levels, and overall well being whether we want it to or not. That thing, of course, is eating.
Too many people are nutritionally illiterate. They can’t read a food label. They don’t really understand what protein, carbs or fat are. They just know that according to whatever website, friends, or alarming new “research” they come across, one of them will kill you if you don’t cut it out right away!
These days, the demon food of the week is gluten. So now you browse the aisles and you’ll see “Gluten-Free” so people buy these products and think it’s healthy when it’s really just marketing.
Eating is one of the subjects you shouldn’t choose to be ignorant on, but it’s hard to know whom to believe, right? What you need to know are a few principles that serve as a filter to discern whether the info you hear is valuable. You know, a B.S. detector. Here are some simple but universal truths that can help you decide on your own:
Food is energy, plain and simple. When you eat, you are fueling your body with macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals). Your body is one shrewd machine so whatever it doesn’t have immediate use for, it will store. This storage is fat.
How much you need to eat (and your capacity to store fat) varies from person to person depending on activity level and metabolism. To use a car analogy, some people burn fuel like a Mack truck (high metabolism) and some people like hybrid vehicles. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. The key is pay attention to how your body responds when eating certain foods.
You must decide what outcome you are eating for before you decide which foods are “bad” for you. Eating for health, body transformation or performance are not the same thing. Certain foods accomplish different outcomes. Some help you burn fat, some gain weight, some prevent cancer, support longevity, some make you stronger, some give fast energy, some slow energy, etc.
Knowing this one fact will clear up 90% of the information that you are flooded with.
Anytime someone spouts nutrition advice like, “Carbs are bad,” ask yourself, “Bad for what outcome? Is it harmful to the results I want?”
Broccoli is a carbohydrate. Is that bad? So is fruit. The statement is too general to be meaningful and yet it’s used all the time.
For an obese, sedentary individual with a desk job, excessive carbohydrates would be bad. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and starches should be avoided. However, a high school linebacker hoping to play in college needs to eat carbs (and lots of them). He needs to fuel his performance and growing body. In his context, carbs are good and absolutely necessary.
But eating foods that cause weight gain, or help you get stronger when you’re trying to lose weight (and vice versa) is a recipe for frustration. You’re following the wrong recipe.
Food is Neutral. Despite what the media says, food isn’t evil. Any food can be good in the right context and right amount. You get that? It’s all about when you have it and how much.
(By the way, when I say food, I’m talking the broad categories of protein, carbs and fat. Not food preparation or sources like organic, GMO, grass-fed, artificial, etc.)
So here’s the takeaway: avoid absolutes. We are all special little snowflakes and we tend to react differently to food. The best things you can do are test it for yourself and see how you feel and what your blood work says.
Eating is too important to rely solely on Dr. Oz. If you care about health and fitness, inform yourself. spt