Lately I feel like a question I receive relatively frequently is how can someone find good balance in their nutrition. This is a question I actually absolutely love to answer because the answer shocks folks most of the time. Now before we get too far into this, if you are looking for a super scientific, peer-reviewed journal type answer in this post – you are going to be disappointed! My goal here is provide some advice and practical information that you can put into every day use!
For starters, a point I would like to make very clear regardless of what you read on articles about the latest “diet approach” the best diet for you is one that you can follow consistently. While each approach might have different advantages, these are typically only manifested in very specific populations. The advice in this article can be applied to whichever approach you have selected for yourself!
Now before we can get to what you came here for, it is important to establish some basic knowledge. The first thing to do when trying to find some sort of balance in your nutrition life is decide what are you trying to accomplish and how many calories are required to reach that goal – most people want the quick fix but fail to realize that different goals require different approaches. For example, when I go into a steady building phase (a.k.a. BULKING for all of my gym bros) I am going to be following different guidelines than I would be if I started to want to lean out. To this point, if your goal is to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you eat and eat more than you burn if you are trying to gain – duh, right? Plain and simple, if you cannot follow the rule that aligns with your goal guess what – NO GAINS FOR YOU!
So how do you know how many calories to be eating past the vague answer of “more/less than you burn”? My recommendation is taking a 2 week food and calorie log to see what/how much you are eating intuitively and take note on what the average amount of calories in is doing to your weight. This is the same exact approach I use when establishing baseline data for my clients and it has not failed me yet! To provide a little bit of a specific example: We have a man that is looking to lose some weight and after tracking for 2 weeks he learns his maintenance calorie level is around the ballpark of 2,000 calories. Given that he is trying to lose weight, lets say he decides to make his goal intake limit at 1,750 calories and accepts that he will make up the rest of his deficit with exercise and cardio (pro tip: this is a good idea ;)). After another two weeks he notices he has lost 3 pounds – he has successfully established a calorie deficit! Simple enough, right?
Now that we know how to determine how many calories we should be eating, where should these calories come from? We have now reached the main event so get the fat-free popcorn ready!
Nutrition is sort of an ever-changing puzzle where your metabolism is the board. It is attempting to find the right combination of energy intake and energy sources to produce mental and physical sustainability. Sometimes you have to place a piece down just to see it doesn’t fit for the puzzle – even if you have to do this more than once eventually you will find the perfect piece to complete the picture.
When trying to decide what foods you can eat and when, starting off with the 80/20 rule will lead you in the right direction. What is the 80/20 rule? Very simply put, eating clean, nutrient dense foods 80% of the time while allowing the other 20% to be much less strict. I practice this approach in my every day life and it not so much a “diet” as it is a lifestyle approach. Now if you have been running all over the internet trying to find the perfect diet, I am sure you are exhausted at hearing by the point the phrase, “its a lifestyle”, because typically the people saying that are already in great shape and have almost unhealthy amounts of dedication to eating cold chicken and rice for every meal daily – it doesn’t have to be that way, I promise!
Another good practice for making sure you are finding balance in your nutrition is implementing the correct supplements. I am a firm believer that after a quality diet pattern has been established, the 80/20 rule for example, supplements do nothing but enhance the results.
Ready to take your fitness game to the next level? If you live in Allen, Dallas, or Plano, make sure to get your free day pass to join Hidden Gym! Become a part of the most motivating place in the DFW area that will help you live a healthier life!
Check out our upcoming events and stay tuned for the next experiences that will challenge you to learn and grow!