by Jared Malvin
One of the biggest factors that will determine your success following a workout plan or working towards your fitness goals is your nutrition. There are common expressions that abs are made in the kitchen and 90% of your muscle is made outside of the gym. These expressions exist because it is very true that no matter how much and what kind of work you are putting in inside the gym it can all be undone or less effective without proper nutrition.
Nutrition is a difficult subject because it is one of the easiest things for you to understand and yet at the same time one of the most overwhelming. If you really had to think about what you should be eating to be healthy, that list is very easy to make. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes…food that is actually food. There are no product labels, no ingredient labels, zero to minimal processing etc. It is common sense that those are healthy foods that you could eat and immediately start becoming healthier.
Understanding healthy eating becomes incredibly difficult because people don’t want to eat only fruits and vegetables for a variety of reasons. People love food and they hold a very serious bond and attachment to it. The problem is what most people eat is not all real food. Plenty of packaged foods that are created in a facility with artificial ingredients to taste good is not real food. Food is what was previously mentioned, real actual food with no ingredient list or label.
Companies process food to make things for people to eat cheaply that taste good and we get addicted to that. We forget very early on in life that when it all boils down to it food is just fuel. Think about it. What we eat is only meant to provide nutrition, nutrients and energy to fuel our body. The better-quality food you ingest the better your body will be fueled and recover. Unfortunately, the food that many companies make are not nutritious or provide quality energy for your body.
This is another area where nutrition becomes difficult because many companies market food to be healthy for you and many of us fall victim to that advertising. Think of how many low fat, sugar free, etc. claims are put on food to instantly tell you it is a healthier option when you don’t know anything else about the product to know whether that is true. It most instances it is not. Remember real food is what is healthy. When a company takes out the sugar of the product to make it seem healthier to you they are generally replacing it with a sugar substitute that is actually less healthy.
More confusion can also happen with types of “healthy” food like a salad. You may eat out and attempt to choose a healthier option like a salad, but the toppings, like dressing, can make that salad quite unhealthy. Even juice and smoothie places may add extra sugar to make the drink taste better. These are the more difficult areas where people will struggle to eat healthier assuming they are. You skip a fast food restaurant for a smoothie or salad restaurant and may be eating just as bad.
To make understanding all this easier people may hire a coach, trainer or nutritionist to let them know what to eat. For some people having it all laid out for them, like a meal plan, makes this easier. I think this is great if it is customized for you, but I am personally not a fan of generic meal plans, partially because I am a picky eater and because I don’t cook. I also think that if you take the time and effort to understand what you should and shouldn’t be eating that is more beneficial in the long run for your continued healthy lifestyle. If you understand what you should be eating it is easier and more enjoyable for you to determine what exactly you want to eat rather than a list of food items you don’t enjoy.
Similar to the advertising and marketing of certain food as healthy and good for you, it is easy to get programmed with information that you don’t actually know to be true or not, but you hear it so often that it becomes part of your thinking. This is common for any vegan or vegetarian when someone finds out they don’t eat meat. Undoubtedly one of the first questions is, “Where do you get your protein?” Many people don’t know anything about protein, where it really comes from, how much is needed, etc. The importance and prevalence of protein and its marketability in today’s society programs people to automatically think if you don’t eat meat, where does your protein come from then? This is relevant because I am telling you to eat a lot of real food like fruit and the same programmed response and thought process can be heard that fruit is full of sugar and just makes you fat.
Images of my mostly fruit diet
To understand why eating high amounts of fruit and the naturally occurring sugar within doesn’t make you fat you need to think about digestion. For people on a common “diet” yes eating a bunch of fruit will possibly make you fat. That is because eating a bunch of other foods and then deciding to have some fruit to be healthy doesn’t exactly work out. Whatever you end up eating your body is only going to burn so much and the excess will be stored. If you are storing all the sugar from fruit because you ate it as part of a larger calorie-rich meal then that may not be the best option. However, if you eat fruit on an empty stomach and in small portions you can digest it well enough to receive all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients without the weight gain. This can be repeated throughout the day with many varieties of fruit to make up many of your small meals which will all then be healthy and low in calories.
After 7 months of switching to a whole foods plant-based diet rich in fruits.