Whether you're eating for health, performance or just simply to get by, finding the right foods and the right balance is increasingly difficult!
With the invent of overly industrialised, hyper-palatable & tasty foods matched with relentless advertising, poor health advice and now decades of bad food choices, putting the right food in your mouth at the right time is increasingly difficult!
With the literally endless amounts of 'information' available, people trying to endorse their ideals and lack of true guidance it is also a battle to decide to make such a life changing choice that actually goes against our own innate instincts and desires.
To put it simply, when calories are on offer your body wants them. When those calories hit every receptor in your brain, make you feel great (for a short period of time!) and disrupt the regulation of hormones and your response to those foods, you (and i) are going to eat more than you need!
This leaves us with 4 specific issues relating to every aspect of health and performance:
1 - Blood Sugar Control. Or the lack of it, leaving you with those constant highs and lows that negatively affects your energy levels, concentration, satiation (fullness) and therefore leaves you craving more. Sugar Rush!
2 - Insulin Sensitivity. When you consume food insulin is released, this is the hormone in the body that basically acts on the energy coming into the system. Everyone can have a unique insulin response to individual foods, however the typically bad foods for insulins response are high levels of sugar, refined carbs and poor fat sources. As you continue to stress your insulin response more insulin needs to be released, this gets to a point where you become insulin resistant and this is thought to be the prominent pre-cursor to metabolic syndrome. That can lead to obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiac issues and more.
3 - Systemic Inflammation. This inflammation, throughout the body, adds additional stress to numerous functions in the body and will leave you feeling things like chronic fatigue, low energy levels and poor cognitive function.
4 - Increased Gut Permeability. Due to the nature of some of the foods now available to us year round (processed, refined carbs etc) the stress on our gut microbiome is continually increased. Due to the nature of digestion and absorption is altered, this allows certain elements into our bodies that should not be there (more inflammation) and reduces the amounts of good bacteria further down into our gut. Lose lose.
So what can you do about it and how can you genuinely change your eating habits for the better?
Well first of all this is a very simple illustration of what is going on!
Second, it will vary from person to person. Body type, metabolic rate, food history, activity levels and a myriad of other factors will affect how you metabolise food, how you feel and how you control your weight / fat levels.
My immediate targets for any individual would be:
1 - Naturalise your food environment! By this we want you to start eating real foods (nothing processed, preserved, loaded with sugar etc) and be prepared when you enter a new environment. There are temptations everywhere so setting out some guidelines on eating is a great way to start.
2 - Increase your activity levels relative to your food intake. Although, as stated above, there are way more factors to consider, your input of food must match your energy expenditure (exercise) and your goals (lose weight, increase weight, less fat, more muscle etc)
3 - Understand that this has to be a genuine change of habits over a long (lifetime) period of time! You can lose lots of weight with some shi**y meal replacement plan or drastically cutting calories etc but in almost all cases, those individuals will see the weight, and more, come back in the near future. This is because of your body being programmed to maintain higher levels of body fat for survival. If you starve the body it will basically do everything it can to then cling on to energy that you have (fat cells) and then when you invariably come off of a particularly crazy diet, those same fat cells are aimed ready to go meaning that you put weight back on at an alarming rate!
4 - Learn what works best for you. Test things out, calculate macros, increase your exercise and strength training. There are so many ways to do this and they can all be simple, effective and ultimately hugely enjoyable as you will feel fantastic! Again this becomes very personalised, eating more to stimulate metabolism, low carb, high fat, intermittent fasting.... there is a way that works best for you!
5 - Enjoy how quality food makes you feel. Preparing and eating quality foods (meat, vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbs etc) is incredibly enjoyable in numerous ways! Quality food tastes the best! (once you have weened yourself off of the modernised food crack you have been eating) you will feel better mentally, physically and psychologically and your body will start to regulate itself to reduce the chances of the above happening!
If you get this right, and you absolutely can, you will be enjoying healthy amounts of amazing foods, being to reach your desired weight/body composition and fight off the modern day plight of chronic disease!
It is in essence very simple yet extremely difficult!
But now is the time to make those decisions, create a healthy, happy life based around your personal needs, knowledge and a true connection to your food and your wellbeing.
So eat healthy, natural foods that you have prepared yourself. Eat enough to support activity and energy levels. Ultimately find the most positive, healthy relationship with food and yourself!
Physical, mental and psychological optimisation!
Work with Michael, a Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, at CrossFit YO4 and online for a huge amount of knowledge, a personal approach to your nutritional needs and an understanding, friendly, accountable coach to get you exactly where you want to be!