Where does your journey to greater health and optimal performance begin? It's not by kicking any particular type of food to the curb, it's by taking a hard look at your mindset and at the timeless question, "What is a healthy diet?"
Yes, how you train matters! But what you do in the gym is only half the story. How you eat matters just as much to where you'll end up, both athletically and in terms of your health. In this video, you'll learn about the most important step in making more educated choices about the food you eat—especially if you have fitness or physique goals.
Essential Ideas from the Video
The goal of this series isn't to push a particular diet, but to help establish behaviors that will help you thrive on any diet or eating approach. You should also be able to compare different eating systems more effectively for your goals, and be able to be more critical of common nutritional myths.
Nutrition and perfection don't go together, even though our brains like clean categories of "yes" and "no." However, constantly thinking in terms of "this is good for me" and "this is bad for me" misses the bigger picture: the overall balance of the food you eat, the nutrients you're getting, and how food translates to energy levels or recovery from training.
A great way for athletes and fit people to define nutrition is: "Giving your body what it needs to survive and to support your activity goals." In other words, looking at food as fuel first and foremost. Nutrients come in two classes. The first is macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol. These are all "fuel" more literally, and have a specific value that can be measured in calories. The second category is micronutrients, and includes things like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and all the other non-caloric substances that your body uses to facilitate countless processes. You don't use these as fuel, but if you're not getting enough of them, you'll definitely feel the effects.
Healthy diets of all types share a few unifying characteristics: They have adequate variety of foods and nutrient sources, a balance of macro and micronutrients, and maximum nutrient density with minimum empty calories.
A simple seven-word foundation to build on when choosing foods is, "Not too processed, not too many ingredients." It's somewhat vague, but by prioritizing whole foods whenever possible, you can cut down on all the traditional nutritional bad guys and maximize the amount of quality fuel and nutrients you get in each meal.
Getting serious about nutrition? Beef up your micronutrient intake with greens and superfoods!