10 Rules of Good Nutrition
Below, I’d like to present my 10 Rules of Good Nutrition. In doing so, I hope to help you rethink your whole nutrition approach and provide you with a new set of nutrition rules and habits, a set that swiftly moves you in the direction of your goals.
So here are the 10 rules:
1. Eat every 2-3 (waking) hours.
Are you doing this – no matter what? Now, you don’t need to eat a full meal every 2-3 hours but you do need to eat 6-8 meals and snacks that conform to the other rules below.
2. Eat complete, lean protein each time you eat.
Protein is the only thing that our body can use to rebuild muscle or to maintain it. It also takes more energy (calories) to break down protein, so the net effect is even lower caloric intake. Note: If you’re a vegetarian, this rule still applies – you need complete protein and need to find non-animal sources.. Note: If you’re a vegetarian, this rule still applies – you need complete protein and need to find non-animal sources.
3. Eat vegetables every time you eat.
That’s right, in addition to a complete, lean protein source, you need to eat some vegetables every time you eat (every 2-3 hours, right?). You can toss in a piece of fruit here and there as well. But don’t skip the veggies.
4. Eat carbs only when you deserve to.
Eat a carbohydrate that’s not a fruit or a vegetable (this includes things like simple sugars, rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, etc), you can – but you’ll need to save it until after you’ve exercised. Yes, these often heavily processed grains are dietary staples in North America, but heart disease, diabetes and cancer are medical staples – and there’s a relationship between the two! To stop heading down the heart disease highway, reward yourself for a good workout with a good carbohydrate meal right after (your body best tolerates these carbohydrates after exercise). For the rest of the day, eat your lean protein and a delicious selection of fruits and veggies.
5. Learn to love healthy fats.
There are 3 types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Forget about that old “eating fat makes you fat” maxim. Eating all three kinds of fat in a healthy balance (about equal parts of each) can dramatically improve your health, and even help you lose fat. Your saturated fat should come from your animal products and you can even toss in some butter or coconut oil for cooking. Your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives, and olive oil. And your polyunsaturated fat should from flaxseed oil, fish oil, and mixed nuts.
6. Ditch the calorie containing drinks (including fruit juice).
In fact, all of your drinks should come from non-calorie containing beverages. Fruit juice, alcoholic drinks, and sodas – these are all to be removed from your daily fare. Your best choices are water and green tea.
7. Focus on whole foods.
Most of your dietary intake should come from whole foods. There are a few times where supplement drinks and shakes are useful. But most of the time, you’ll do best with whole, largely unprocessed foods.
8. Have 10% foods.
I know you cringed at a few of the rules above. But here’s the thing: 100% nutritional discipline is never required for optimal progress. The difference, in results, between 90% adherence to your nutrition program and 100% adherence is negligible. So you can allow yourself “10% foods” – foods that break rules, but which you’ll allow yourself to eat (or drink, if it’s a beverage) 10% of the time. Just make sure you do the math and determine what 10% of the time really means. For example, if you’re eating 6 meals per day for 7 days of the week – that’s 42 meals. 10% of 42 is about 4. Therefore you’re allowed to “break the the rules” on about 4 meals each week.
9. Develop food preparation strategies.
The hardest part about eating well is making sure you can follow the 8 rules above consistently. And this is where preparation comes in. You might know what to eat, but if isn’t available, you’ll blow it when it’s time for a meal.
10. Balance daily food choices with healthy variety.
Let’s face it, when you’re busy during the week, you’re not going to be spending a ton of time whipping up gourmet meals. During these times you’re going to need a set of tasty, easy to make foods that you can eat day in and day out. However, once every day or a few times a week, you need to eat something different, something unique and tasty to stave off boredom and stagnation.
What about everything else?
So what about caloric intake, or macronutrient ratios, or all the other technical and theoretical issues that are often debated? The short answer is that those things only become relevant once you’re practicing the above-mentioned habits, and by practicing them I mean putting them to use over 90% of the time (i.e., no more than 4 meals out of an average 42 meals per week violate any of those rules).
Moreover, most people can achieve the health and the body composition they desire just by following those ten rules alone. No kidding! In fact, with some clients I’ve spent months just supervising their adherence to those rules and have gotten amazing results.