We all know by now that the nutrition world is a big filthy mess.
It is a mess because of selfish a-holes trying to sell you a tonne of appealing junk for easy profits.
It is a mess because a heap of narcissistic jerks over the past 70 years have decided on what ‘look’ is desirable and what isn’t, and unfortunately they continue to pick completely unachievable and unsustainable looks for us common folk to strive for.
It is a mess because even ‘scientists’, ‘doctors’ and ‘dieticians’ don’t mind cashing in on the multi-billion dollar industry that is obesity.
It is a mess because it is way, way easier to sell bs and keep the public at arms length on what actually is the go with all this nutrition stuff, than to just be honest.
Because most of us are a bunch of gullible impatient idiots that love shiny things and being told what to do and what works, rather than do the research ourselves, think critically and find out the facts.
Sometimes I think of us people as a bunch of goldfish. Swimming about aimlessly, forgetting all kinds of shit, thrilled with bright lights and glitter, and our highlight of the day is when delicious food gets handed directly to us as if from the hand of god.
My problem with our approach to nutrition that I want to share today, are two words that we absolutely overuse and really don’t enough understanding of when talking about food:
‘Healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’
When about 80% of our population are on some sort of mission to decrease their weight/body fat, what we determine as healthy and unhealthy and what those 2 words even mean in relation to our goals can be viewed completely differently from person to person.
To one person, ‘healthy’ can mean full of vitamins and nourishing goodness.
To another, healthy means it will help them lose weight.
To a food company, it means a vital key word to use when targeting their products to those looking to lose weight (with minimal government standards and restriction on the use of the word healthy in relation to the food’s content and the context in which it is sold).
Most people define ‘unhealthy’ as food that will make us fat, regardless of quantity consumed. This includes ice-cream, biscuits, lollies, pizza and burgers to name a few.
But why are they unhealthy? Is this definition of unhealthy food the actual cause of us gaining fat? What if I ate one small packet of McDonald’s fries and a Freddo Frog every day, amongst a tonne of ‘healthy’ foods? Will I still get fat because they are ‘unhealthy’?
Confused? Yeh, aren’t we all.
When it comes to food, we need all the different types. The carbs, the fats, the proteins, the vitamins, the minerals. All of it is required and each nutrient serves a different purpose. When it comes to deciding on what is healthy and what is unhealthy, we often place two of the most important nutrients in the ‘unhealthy’ category, good ‘ol (or bad ‘ol) carbs and fats.
These two nutrients are absolutely vital!
What we don’t often get told (well we do get told this, but us goldfish prefer to focus on the false shiny lights instead) is that it is not these two nutrients that are unhealthy, it is the behaviour of habitually over-consuming these two nutrients (and not moving our lazy arses enough) that is causing us to become unhealthy.
A ‘healthy’ food should only be defined as a nutrient dense food. Which is a food high in micro-nutritional value… high in vitamins and minerals for energy production, immune function, blood clotting, bone health, fluid balance and more. It should NOT in any way be tied to its effect on body composition (weight loss).
An ‘unhealthy’ food should be defined as a food that will kill you… You know, shit that isn’t food… poison, plastic, rocks, glass, etc. Yes, dumb obvious stuff. No, burgers, pizza, chocolate and burritos are NOT UNHEALTHY foods.
The food we all so commonly consider ‘unhealthy’, the food that we tend to do stupid things like ‘cheat’ with, or eat and then moan about feeling guilty for eating it, should just simply be defined as energy dense food. Food high in one or more of the three macronutrients primarily designed for producing energy, supporting cell growth, protecting organs and keeping you warm and safe from dying. Food that really should not be avoided for these said reasons.
When we label carbs and fats as ‘unhealthy’, it creates the shitstorm we are currently in… mass confusion, outrageous dieting techniques, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and low self esteem.
“It is not the regular consumption of what we label ‘unhealthy’ food that causes weight gain, it is the overconsumption of energy dense foods in combination with a lack of daily physical movement which causes weight gain.” – Stu (I’m quoting this because it is a damn important statement!)
If we want to take it a step further… It is the overconsumption of energy dense food, the lack of physical movement, and the underconsumption of nutrient dense food which commonly causes many of today’s diet related diseases and weight gain.
In order to lose weight, become healthy, be fit… whatever. All we need to do is this…
Consume more nutrient dense foods, keep your energy dense food intake to a level that supports fat loss… and move, your arse, every day.
The more you move, the greater intake of energy dense food you are able to consume, the less you move, the lower your allowable intake.
That is it!
How do we do it?
Trial and error, i.e. actually stick to a consistent system for long enough to collect results, then tweak it to suit.
Track food intake. No it doesn’t have to be to the extreme level that you see bodybuilders/fitness models and silly obsessive people do. That’s stupid. Just track your daily total calorie intake and aim for a consistent number each day, set a daily protein target of approx 1.8xbodyweight and consume plenty of nutrient dense food. Do it for 4-6 weeks, see how it went, change it as necessary. Oh, and move more.
Knowledge is power, go learn.