I posted a video this week on Tik Tok and Instagram about the basics of food and nutrition that I would want all my clients to know if they are to get results . If you are looking to change your body composition then you need to know a certain amount of things about food. While you do not need to study a degree in nutrition, if you are missing the basic fundamental knowledge you will probably struggle a lot. I discussed this a little last week, about how the fitness industry goes in-depth about food and exercise and ends up confusing most people. For me the simple basics will work if you put enough of the other areas within the Grand Unified Theory into place, which is as much about stress management or neural connections as it is knowing biochemistry of foods. The main things you need to know about food are –

1) Energy – Food contains energy, it is what keeps us alive. Energy is measured in a unit called calories. Only four types of things contain energy (calories), they are Protein, Carbs, Fat or Alcohol.

These substrates have different amounts of energy within them. For every 1 gram of each they contain the following calories: Protein = 4 Calories, Carbs = 4 Calories Fat = 9 calories, alcohol = 7 calories.

2) Food Density – The most important element around body composition is probably having a general understanding of what is in food and how that affects you.  If you take any food, it will have a certain amount of protein, carbs, fat (and/or alcohol), ranging form 0% to 99.9%, the rest of it will be water. This varies greatly between different types of food. So many people make mistakes here because they are unaware how much energy is within a given food, especially many healthy foods, e.g. nuts have more calories in them than chocolate. Most fat loss plans aim to get you to eat more low calorie density foods so you can eat a lot of them while not actually consuming that much energy. The general advice is to choose lower calorie foods as they are much harder to overeat on (e.g. green vegetables).

You will often hear people label food groups as ‘carbs’ or ‘protein’ which may or may not correlate to actually what is in the food, so it is not overly helpful to use such broad food types.

3) Macro’s Affect How You Feel – The ratio of protein to carb to fat within your meal and overall daily intake will affect how you feel. You can use your body to guide you by looking at how often you are hungry, your level of cravings, energy and mood to experiment to find the best ratio for you. When you do this, it will be much easier to reduce your overall food intake. If you are too low in any individual macro group it will make you eat more, however, eating past this point of satisfaction will not bring extra benefits if at the expense of another substrate.

4) Hydration – The majority of people would would do better drinking more water while a smaller, yet still significant percentage would be best served by reducing the amount they drink or adding in salt alongside their water consumption. Many drinks are in fact foods in liquid form, and should be factored in as you would with any other food group.

5) Individuality, Taste & Logistics Trumps Everything – Everyone loves to argue from a textbook about what you should eat while totally forgetting the individual involved in the process. Nothing is more important for your food plan than accounting for taste, as you must enjoy the foods consumed or you will never stick to it. You must factor in your own individuality as well, which may mean you may need a different macro ratio to someone else, that some foods fill you up more than they would your friend and how much food you can eat per day. The logistics of your life and situation must also be looked at, you do not have to prepare 20 meals ahead and never go out, not everyone lives the bodybuilder life.

6) Nutrients, Chemicals & Irritants – Almost all the other advice around food is aimed at getting you to consume more vitamins & minerals from your foods or reducing the amount of toxins and chemicals in the type of food you eat. The final influence on much of our diet advice is looking at food that irritate your body, this may be from a food allergy or another pathway to disrupt your functioning. The advice may centre on buying or eating certain types of food or cooking in a certain way. It may also include eliminations or stopping non food related ‘bad’ behaviours. There is so much advice in this area that it puts most people off addressing their food or traps them in a web of information overload and inaction. Your goal should be to increase the nutrients you eat, while reducing the chemicals and toxins that get into the body. You should also look to identify and then minimise to the best of your ability foods that irritate the system.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Get up to speed on the basics of food and nutrition. Without it, you will struggle to get results or you will misspend your effort on things that will not bring you the best return on your energy. I would say the biggest learning to take away from this message would be individuality and energy. Your body is unique and it will guide you about what it needs during the process which may be very different from the next person. Secondly, you cannot discount energy when it comes to changing how you look. It is integral and central to the process.

Photo –  Some Chinese food I had at my clients house after training and a salmon and egg breakfast alongside the Tik Tok Video clip – 


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