Nutrition and dietary approaches for fitness enthusiasts
Growing up listening to people talk and watching lots of TV, I used to think the word “diet” meant you needed to stop eating food. The foods we habitually eat is what the term diet means. As we all know, everyone has good and bad habits and this isn’t any different when it comes to the foods people eat.
When people say, “I’m going on a diet”, most of the time they are proposing that they will cut out a huge list of foods and eat considerably less (not a good place to begin I’m afraid). The problem with this approach is people make such a drastic change that is too difficult to achieve.
Where can you go wrong with your nutrition?
My biggest goal as a nutritionist and exercise coach is to make things easy for my clients. When it comes to nutrition there are three areas you can go wrong:
1. Eating too much food regardless of whether it's “healthy” or not.
2. Not eating enough of a certain foods (nutrients).
3. Consuming too much high salt, fat sugar foods (HFSS).
Award-winning Waterford Live fitness expert Harley Barnes
What diets really are!
There are a huge variety of diets that exist today with most of them focusing towards weight loss. As a result of having so much access to information, it’s no surprise that it can be difficult to choose one or get puzzled about nutrition. Some of the popular dietary approaches include the Atkins diet, Paleo diet, Ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. All of these will have their own set of rules e.g. low carbohydrate intake, eating in a specific time period or only eating certain foods.
Ultimately, diets follow a set of rules and the truth is that no single diet is best for any person. The best diet is the one you can maintain that supports you to achieve the three points I mentioned above.
Individual goals will have a huge part to play. For example, if a person wants to focus on building muscle, they will need to ensure they consume protein regularly throughout the day and make sure they consume adequate calories to fuel muscle growth.
On the other hand, if someone wants to lose weight or reduce body fat, the most fundamental rule is that they must be in a calorie deficit (eat less food than their body burns). In some scientific studies the only thing that predicted the success of weight loss diets was how well the person stuck to the diet. This is important because you shouldn’t start a diet that you know you won’t be able to stick to. I’ve come across people time and time again who say to themselves they will give up chocolate completely, when really and truly it would be more achievable if they promised themselves to consume it more sparingly. Restriction often leads to binging.
Misconceptions and fad diets
If you’re considering a diet you should question what the diet is doing and how it works. For example, the Atkins diet claims that if people eliminate carbohydrates, they will lose weight. I have seen people follow this diet and yes, they will lose weight. They will then go on to tell everyone about their results and before we know it carbohydrates are evil. If we were to examine this approach, we would soon realise that when we eliminate carbohydrates from our diet our calories will be reduced, resulting in a calorie deficit and eventual weight loss. As you can see, these set of rules outlined in the Atkins diet would contribute to a person’s goal of weight loss. However, I would not recommend eliminating any essential nutrients - they’re essential!
Eat a variety of whole foods, basing your diet around fruits and vegetables which contain lots of micronutrients and fibre. If it's weight loss you’re after, reduce your portion sizes and be consistent over time. Set a goal and test yourself towards this goal.
If you have any questions or want more information, contact Harleys - Health & Strength Fitness.
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