7 Simple Nutrition Rules for Optimal Health and Performance
Nutrition has become such a convoluted subject with a different expert touting their way of eating and demonizing someone else's seemingly every day.
It's difficult, but the key is to ignore the pendulum that swings back and forth and stick to proven principles.
This is why I prefer a minimalist approach to nutrition, to avoid the sensationalist claims that get thrown around.
So, in the spirit of simplicity, here are 7 simple nutrition rules that I follow for optimal health and performance.
1 - Eat Lots of Animal Protein
It may be an unpopular opinion in some circles but meat needs to be a major part of your diet for optimal health and performance.
My experiment with an all-meat diet made that obvious to me.
Fish, beef, poultry and eggs are filled with protein, healthy fats and lots of essential vitamins and minerals that provide so many benefits to your body and brain.
Make animal protein the foundation of every meal and your joints will feel better, you'll recover faster, sleep better, lose body fat and your energy levels will go through the roof.
2 - Quality Fruits and Vegetables
While meat provides all the protein and healthy fats that your body needs, fruits and vegetables should be your source of carbohydrates.
They're packed with a ton of vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal function of all your body's systems.
With the state of the modern diet, most people are dealing with some form of micronutrient deficiency that typically manifests as "brain fog", lethargy, lack of motivation, etc.
Filling up on quality, organic fruits and vegetables will address these deficiencies and improve your health and optimize your body's performance.
3 - Avoid Sugar and Grains
There is absolutely nothing nutritionally beneficial to eating sugar, grains or any other processed carbs.
That includes oats, pasta, whole grains and all the other so-called "healthy grains".
These low quality carb sources provide very little nutritional value and tend to do more harm in the long run.
Because processed carbs digest quickly, they cause your blood sugar to spike and dip rapidly, making you feel hungry faster.
Sugar and grains lead to constant hunger, overeating, fat gain, poor sleep quality and a ton of other negative side effects, so avoid these processed carbs at all costs.
4 - Earn Your Carbs
I'm a big fan of a low carb approach for optimal health and performance.
Not that carbs are bad but if you're following the above rules and eating lots of meat, fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed carbs, it's really hard to get a ton of carbs in your diet - you simply can't eat that much volume of fruits and veggies.
That being said, if you're going to splurge on carb heavy meals, make sure you're earning them by training hard and staying active.
A sweet potato is a great source of carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals, but if you're going to eat a heavy source of carbs like that, the best time to do it is right after you get done throwing around the bells.
Put simply, carbs aren't bad as long as you're getting them from quality fruits and vegetables, and you're training hard and earning them.
5 - Don't Drink Calories
This is just another way to say, you should only be drinking water, coffee and tea.
If something you're drinking has calories in it, there's a good chance it breaks rule number 3 and those calories are coming from sugar.
You're not a child, so cut out the soda and juices.
And keep your alcohol intake to a minimum, red wine if you must.
Drink lots of water and some coffee or tea if you need it.
6 - Eat When You're Hungry
People like to complicate this concept, so I'm going to keep this short, simple and leave nothing to interpretation.
If you're hungry, eat.
If you're not hungry, don't eat.
It doesn't matter if it's "lunch time" or if you haven't eaten all day or if you just worked out - eat if you're hungry and don't eat if you're not.
As long as you're following rules 1-5, when you eat doesn't matter.
7 - Sometimes Don't Eat At All
I know I just said that you should eat when you're hungry, but there are a ton of health benefits that come from fasting regularly as well.
Fasting will help you drop some body fat, improve your mental acuity, increase your energy and focus while also triggering your body's cellular detoxification processes.
It's also been shown to increase lifespan and help mitigate disease.
Fasting is a secret weapon when it comes to building a stronger, healthier and better performing body (and brain).
As always, I like to keep it simple.
I generally just skip breakfast most days and eat my first meal of the day at lunch.
Then once a week I'll do a 24 hour fast where I'll go from dinner on Saturday night to dinner on Sunday night without eating.
I've experimented with longer fasts but I'm not sure that the juice is worth the squeeze, 24 hours is probably enough to reap all the health benefits of fasting.
However you want to do it, just find a way to incorporate fasting as a daily habit.
These 7 rules form a hierarchy and should be the foundation of your nutrition.
Whether you want to shed some body fat, build muscle, get stronger or become a better athlete, these rules will get you 99% of the way there - the rest is individual fine tuning.
In Strength and Health,